Agricultural Shows in the Lake District

Herdwick Sheep

Agricultural shows have a long history in the UK. It is thought that the first show took place in Lancashire in 1768. Whilst early shows were a way of enabling farmers to showcase their livestock ready for market, they developed in the 19th century to become an important date on the rural social calendar. Although much of the focus still remained on the livestock, entertainment was added in the form of sports and competitions. As the shows grew bigger and more popular, traders soon realised that such events provided a captive audience, and market stalls became a feature.

Today there are over 150 agricultural shows across the UK each year. Some are extravagant three-day events complete with fairground rides and live music that draw in thousands of visitors. Others are quieter, often based in villages and smaller towns, with more traditional forms of entertainment.

Where to Find Agricultural Shows in the Lake District

Agriculture is a vital part of the Cumbrian economy, which is hardly surprising given the predominantly rural landscape. Farming is more than an industry here. For many people it is a way of life with many farmers still using traditional methods for managing their livestock, such as the hefting of Herdwick sheep. Consequently, agricultural shows play an important part in the Cumbrian economy, enabling farmers and traders to come together. As with shows elsewhere in the UK, these have also become important social events.

There are around 20 shows taking place each year in Cumbria and the Lake District of varying sizes. Whilst livestock judging is a key theme for almost all of these events, all of the shows listed here have something to attract wider audiences, whether it is market stalls, fairground rides, or sports competitions. Furthermore, most also have competitions in traditional Cumberland and Westmorland Wrestling – a quirky sport that dates back to the Viking invasion of the UK.

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Cumberland County Show

One of the biggest, and one of the oldest, the Cumberland County Show has taken place almost every year since the 1830s and draws thousands of visitors from across the county and beyond. Previously held at Carlisle Racecourse, the show moved to East Park in 2017. There is lots to see and do at this show for the whole family, with sheepdog trials, ferret displays, birds of prey displays, a petting zoo, craft and trading stalls, wrestling, vintage vehicle displays all packed into the showground – plus lots more!


Skelton Show

  • Location: Old Park, Hutton-in-the Forest, Nr Skelton, CA11 9TH
  • When: July
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For a small village show, this one certainly punches well above its weight, attracting around 10,000 visitors in recent years. Now held in the grounds of the beautiful estate of Hutton-In-The-Forest, the show originated in the small nearby village of Skelton in the late 1800s and has grown to become an important date on the agricultural show calendar. Along with traditional livestock judging competitions the show features live music, trade stands, a crafts tent, a bar, vintage vehicles, and of course, wrestling.


Penrith Agricultural Show

  • Location: Brougham Hall Farm, Penrith, CA10 2DE
  • When: July
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The first Penrith Show took place in 1834. Since then, it’s gone from strength to strength, taking place every year on the fourth Saturday of each July. Around 10,000 people visit the show each year, and whilst the Penrith Agricultural Society is keen to keep the emphasis on agriculture, the show has lots to attract a wider audience. There are market stalls, vintage vehicles, show jumping, dry stone walling demonstrations and competitions, and even a rabbit show. Wrestling makes an appearance, and there’s a food hall and craft tent.


Coniston Country Fair

Overlooked by the Old Man of Coniston and situated on the shores of Coniston Water, the Coniston Show has a truly spectacular location. You will find everything you might expect at this traditional Lakeland show, including livestock competitions, sporting events, such as wrestling and falconry displays.

The show’s unique selling point is the six-mile fell-running race that takes participants up to the summit of the Old Man and back. There are bouncy castles, a children’s pet show, an egg throwing competition and much more for the little ones – plus plenty of trade stands to browse through.


Cockermouth Show

  • Location: The Fitz, Low Road, Cockermouth, CA13 0HH
  • When: July
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The Cockermouth Show takes place each year at the end of July, and has done so since 1849. It’s a popular event with locals and those from further afield, bringing thousands into the small west Cumbrian town. Livestock is on display, alongside farm vehicles both vintage and new. There are trade stands galore, show jumping, wrestling and you can even try riding a rodeo bull. There are fairground rides and bouncy castles for children, and plenty of food stands dotted around the showground.


Ulverston and North Lonsdale Agricultural Show

This is a great event for the whole family, usually taking place during the first week of the school summer holidays. Along with more traditional aspects of agricultural shows, such as livestock judging the Ulverston and North Lonsdale show is packed with things to do. There are hands on experiences, such as a mini petting zoo, plus entire zone for entertaining children. Cookery demonstrations take place in the food hall where you will find a plethora of local goods to try and buy, and there’s live entertainment with comedy and music.


Ambleside Sports

With a focus on traditional sports rather than livestock, Ambleside Sports is a quirky agricultural show that takes place on the last Thursday of every July. Competitions are held throughout the day in various disciplines, including hound trailing, fell running, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, track racing and cycling.

Children are encouraged to enter, with categories for various ages and additional fun races for younger children. When not watching the racing, there is plenty to keep spectators entertained with a large trade area, fairground rides, a circus skills workshop, live music, a climbing wall, and the all important bar and food court.


Cartmel Show

Cartmel is famous for horse-racing, so it’s unsurprising that horses are a predominate feature at the Cartmel Show with show jumping, carriage driving, and numerous classes for horse judging forming a significant part. In addition, there is livestock judging for other breeds of animal, a dog show, a mounted (on horseback) fancy dress parade, and, of course, wrestling. There is entertainment for children, food and craft stalls, and you could even learn a bit of dancing, weaving, or stone masonry!


Lakeland Country Fair

The Lakeland Country Fair takes place in Torver, near Coniston, overlooking the gorgeous Coniston fells, and includes a wide range of events and activities. The main event includes a Fell Pony display with various dog shows, wrestling, horn blowing, fell races for adults and juniors, and more. The show features ample trade stands, as well as a children's area with a bouncy castle and trampoline in addition to a bar for refreshments and a bbq.


Lowther Show

The beautiful grounds of the Lowther estate south of Penrith is a delightful setting for this large country show that takes place each year in August. This is one of the larger agricultural shows in Cumbria with something to suit all interests and tastes. The main arena features displays from horses and birds of prey.

The Lowther Hound show is a must see event, whilst the mini Folk Roots festival is sure to be a hit with music lovers. There are various competitions in country pursuits, as well as opportunities for members of the public to try certain activities, such as falconry and clay shooting. There are wildlife displays, inflatables and trampolines for children, and hundreds of trade stalls selling crafts, food and more.


Rydal Sheepdog Trials and Hound Show

  • Location: Rydal Park, Ambleside, LA22 0PL
  • When: August
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Smaller than many of the other agricultural shows, the Rydal Sheepdog and Hound Show takes a more traditional approach. The show started in 1901 when a local landowner created a sheepdog trial competition.

Today, sheepdog trials are the main focus of the Rydal Show, and are accompanied by a judging competition for hounds. The annual Shepherds Crooks and Sticks Competition is also held at the show, and there are a number of trade stalls to peruse. Hot food is available and there is a licensed bar.


Gosforth Show

  • Location: Gosforth Showfield, Seascale, CA20 1HT
  • When: Usually Third Saturday in August
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The first Gosforth show took place in 1876. This small village in West Cumbria sees hundreds of visitors return each year to this quirky event where you can see dancing and racing sheep. Along with livestock competitions, there are show jumping demonstrations, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, sporting events for children, a tug-of-war battle, live music, and plenty of trade stands selling a variety of goods and food.


Hawkshead Show

  • Location: Hawkshead Hall Farm, Hawkshead, LA22 0NN
  • When: August
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Not many people realise that Beatrix Potter, author of Peter Rabbit and other children’s fairy tales, was also an award winning sheep farmer. Potter spent many years living close to the quaint village of Hawkshead, and regularly entered the show’s judging competitions for her livestock. She often won and later would become a judge.

Today, the show still has an extensive selection of classes for livestock competitions, and there is plenty for members of the public to see. There are hound trails, show jumping, and dog displays. You will also find horticultural displays here, as well as local crafts, plus a good number of trade stalls.


Grasmere Sports

  • Location: The Showfield, Stock Lane, Grasmere, LA22 9SL
  • When: August
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Different to most of the other agricultural shows that take place in Cumbria each year, the name of this event gives a good clue to its focus. Grasmere Sports primarily features sporting events, but still features many aspects that are found in elsewhere in agricultural shows, such as hound trails, and sheepdog demonstrations.

Livestock judging is largely absent, replaced instead with a selection of sporting activities such as track racing, tug-of-war, mountain bike racing, and fell running, with different categories for children and adults. The first Grasmere Sports took place over 150 years ago, when shepherds and farm workers attending the local sheep fair, attempted to demonstrate their skills through wrestling and running. Today it’s a popular event, and in addition to the sporting activities, there is live music and market stalls.


Black Combe Country Fair

The picturesque Eskdale valley is the setting each August bank holiday Monday for the Black Combe Country Fair. This is a popular event, attracting a few thousand attendees each year. The fair originally started around 50 years ago as sheepdog trials, but grew to encompass other activities.

Today, the event has numerous classes for dog show awards, as well as dog racing, a fell race, a vintage vehicle display, fell pony rides, and a fell race. There are activities for children, as well as a good number of trade stands, food stalls and a beer tent.


Keswick Show

  • Location: Pump Field, Braithwaite Old Bridge, Braithwaite, Keswick, CA12 5TD
  • When: August Bank Holiday Monday
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First held in 1860, the Keswick Show takes place every August bank holiday Monday. One popular draw of the show is the array of horses performing stunning tricks in the show-jumping arena. This is a large show with thousands of visitors each year, and there is plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

You will find livestock competitions, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, sheepdog demonstrations, trade stands, a craft tent selling locally produced goods, and a huge children’s area with activities for all ages, all located on the edge of the pretty town.


Ennerdale Show

  • Location: Kirkland Leaps, Kirkland, Frizington, CA26 3XZ
  • When: August
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Now in its 110th year, the Ennerdale Show had an intriguing start, when at the end of the 19th century a very cold winter saw the Ennerdale lake completely freeze over. The cold snap meant that children at the local school struggled with a lack of heating, and a group of local farmers came together to try and raise money to support the school.

They came up with the idea of a flower show, which was a great hit, and repeated annually. Livestock competitions were later added, and the show has (with the exception of periods during the World Wars) continued each year since. All of the traditional Cumbrian show features are here, including livestock shows, wrestling, vintage vehicles, hound trails, children’s sports, and a fell race.


Westmorland County Show

  • Location: Westmorland County Showground, Lane Farm, Crooklands, Nr Milnthorpe, LA7 7NH
  • When: September
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From humble beginnings in 1799, making it the oldest of Cumbria’s agricultural shows, the Westmorland Show has grown steadily over the years. It’s one of the most popular, reflected in the 30,000 people who visit the show annually, and in the national vote that saw it come near the top of the UK’s favourite agricultural shows.

Livestock in numerous categories are judged and paraded here, and there is show jumping, a hound parade, bird of prey displays and even working ferrets. Away from the animals, you will find a number of craft and shopping marquees, as well as a marquee dedicated to traditional crafts, such as yarn spinning. Of course, no Cumbrian agricultural show is complete without Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, and championship titles in the sport are awarded here.


Wasdale Head Show & Shepherd’s Meet

  • Location: Show Field, Wasdale Head, Seascale, CA20 1EX
  • When: October
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The Wasdale Head Show & Shepherd’s Meet is one of the more traditional agricultural shows. The name “Shepherd’s Meet” and date in mid-October reflects the tradition of shepherds getting together at the end of the main farming season to discuss their trade and to enjoy some social activities. Prizes are awarded to sheep and sheepdogs in various categories.

There is also a Shepherd’s Crook competition where intricately carved crooks are judged on their design. Anyone attending can enter the “Best Shepherd’s Boots” competition, and those with fine beards may like to enter the “Best Beard” contest. There are also trade stands, vintage vehicles and a craft barn.