The clocks have been put back one hour, the trees are mostly bare having lost their golden leaves, and we have had the first frost of the season, which was surprisingly harsh for this early stage. We are pretty certain that winter has arrived here in the Lake District, and now we are just waiting for that first sprinkling of snow on Helvellyn. So, are we closed for business? Absolutely not! In fact, winter is a great time to visit this World Heritage Site, especially if you are seeking a short weekend break.

1. Amazing Photography Experiences

Sunken Gate at Derwent Water

Sunken Gate at Derwent Water

The snow-capped mountains, frost covered trees and fields, and crisp, still mornings where mist swirls above lakes so calm they create a mirror like effect, this all combines to result in picture postcard views that are not to be missed. Many of the photographers based in the Lake District do the bulk of their work in the autumn and winter, and it’s easy to see why.


2. Spectacular Sunrises and Sunsets

Foggy Sunrise at Crummock Water

Foggy Sunrise at Crummock Water

Enhancing the picture postcard scenes mentioned above, the rising and sinking sun over low level cloud and mist creates something magical. We thing there is something a little bit romantic about getting up to watch the sunrise above a lake, and during the winter you don’t have to get up that early to do so, with sunrise occurring between 7.30am and 8.30am in November and December.


3. Christmas Lights Switch On

Christmas Lights Switch On

Our Georgian streets come alive during the winter with bright, sparkling lights illuminating our independent shops. In late November, many of the towns have special celebrations where there is a day or afternoon of festivities followed by the lights being switched on for the first time. This year the dates are as follows:

  • Carlisle: Sunday, 19th November, 2017 from 2pm to 5.30pm
  • Kendal: Sunday, 19th November, 2017 from 1.30pm to 5pm
  • Keswick: Friday, 24th November, 2017 at 6pm
  • Ambleside: Saturday, 18th November, 2017 from 10am to 6pm
  • Windermere & Bowness: Saturday, 25th November, 2017 - Times TBC
  • Cockermouth: Sunday, 19th November, 2017 from 2pm to 6pm
  • Penrith: Saturday, 25th November, 2017 - Times TBC

4. Christmas Shopping

Mother and daughter with Christmas presents

We are not just lakes. Our towns are brimming with independent shops, many of which sell locally crafted goods, especially when it comes to Christmas markets. The adventurer in your life will love something from the amazing selection of outdoor gear shops that can be found in Ambleside. The jewellery lover will adore the pretty gemstones and precious metals found in handcrafted jewellery available in shops in Keswick. Children will love our independent toy shops, such as those found in Cockermouth. Foodies will be delighted with something picked up from the Taste Cumbria Christmas market, and don’t forget to pop into the Lakes Distillery for a wee dram or two, or three…


5. Christmas in a Cosy Cottage

Prefer to get away from all the fuss at Christmas? There’s nothing better than waking up on Christmas morning in a cosy Lake District cottage with a roaring fire and a delightful vista over the fells. We have numerous holiday homes and cottages that can be let out on a self-catered basis and equipped with everything you need to cook the perfect Christmas dinner. Don’t want to spend the day cooking? Check out the local favourite supermarket Booths with branches in Keswick, Penrith, Ulverston, and Kendal. Their ready-to-cook Christmas menu is simply divine. Alternatively, book into a local restaurant or pub, but don’t delay, places are going fast!


6. Wintry Walks to Blow Away the Cobwebs

A Snowy Helvellyn

A Snowy Helvellyn

As tempting as it is to hunker down inside away from the elements during the dark winter months, a brisk walk in cool conditions will do wonders to lift your spirits. You don’t have to go far to experience breath-taking views with low level fells, such as Latrigg and Orrest Head, being easily accessible and offering delightful panoramas of snow-capped peaks from the top.


7. New Year’s Eve Gala Dinners

New Year's 2018

If you want to celebrate New Year’s Eve in style then you should definitely consider the Lake District for an end of year break. You won’t find many public celebrations, but a lot of the finer hotels in the Lake District host private, multi-day celebrations that often include black tie gala dinners, guided walks and exclusive boat tours. Some even include private firework displays. Check out some of the private parties listed in our guide to New Year's celebrations in the Lake District.


8. Skiing!

Man skiing

Yes, you read that correctly. You can go skiing in the Lake District in the winter. It is entirely dependent on snowfall, but during a “good” year, it’s possible to have around 60 days suitable for skiing. Skiing takes place on Raise, which is adjacent to Helvellyn and has nine pistes. However, it’s worth noting that there is no accommodation or hire facilities on Raise, and the ski tow is entirely run by volunteers in the Lake District Ski Club. You must join the club and buy a lift pass before you can use the skiing facilities at Raise. You can find out more information on the Lake District Ski Club website.


9. It’s Out of Season, but There Is Plenty to Do

Gone are the days where everything shuts up for the winter. Many of the Lake District’s attractions remain open throughout the colder months, albeit with limited opening hours. Lowther Castle is open every day, whilst at Muncaster Castle and Wray Castle the castle buildings might be closed but you can still access the grounds and Muncaster’s owl centre. Grizedale and Whinlatter Forests are open all year round, but if you prefer to stay indoors then you will find something to entertain you at the Rheged Centre, or you could pop over to the Lakes Aquarium. Most of the lake boat cruises are in operation, with some only operating at weekends, whilst both the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway operate every day.