Beer Festivals in the Lake District

Craft Beer

The modern beer festival can trace its origins back to 1810, when King Ludwig I of Bavaria married Princess Therese. The happy union was celebrated with a huge parade, with local ale and wine merchants supplying the refreshments. The party was repeated annually with breweries quickly realising the event provided a great retail opportunity. Today, this annual celebration is better known as Oktoberfest.

In the UK, the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA) held their first festival in 1975, and since then, festivals have cropped up all over the country, with CAMRA playing a supporting role in many of them. In recent years, there has been a backlash against large breweries, whilst craft and microbreweries have become increasingly popular. Beer festivals are a fantastic way of enabling these smaller breweries to market their products, and for festival-goers, they are a lot of fun.

Where to Find Beer Festivals in the Lake District

A pie and a pint is a staple for many folk here in Cumbria, especially after a long day in the fells. Real ale is extremely popular, and this is reflected in the explosion of breweries that has taken place across the county in the last couple of decades. We now have around 40 breweries, which is not bad for a county that is England’s second least densely populated.

This popularity is also reflected in the number of beer festivals that are held in the county; there are around 15 per year. Some are large events drawing in huge crowds over a couple of days, whilst others take place in the rural pubs that inhabit some of the remotest areas of the Lake District. All of the festivals combine excellent ale with entertainment and lively conversation to create fantastic events that are certainly worth checking out.

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The Punch Bowl Beer Festival, Great Broughton

  • Location: The Punch Bowl Inn, 19 Main Street, Great Broughton, Cockermouth, CA13 0YJ
  • Date: February
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The small village of Great Broughton lies to the west of Cockermouth, and is home to the Punch Bowl Inn – a community run pub that prides itself on only serving locally brewed ales. A team of volunteers runs the pub with profits donated to charities in the village. The pub holds a beer festival each February, celebrating local ales, and there are usually around 20 different beers to try. This is a very small festival with a community feel, but visitors to the area will be given a warm welcome.


Northern Craft Beer Festival, Staveley

  • Location: Hawkshead Brewery, Mill Yard, Staveley, LA8 9LR
  • Date: July
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Hawkshead Brewery has been brewing real ale since 2002, initially within a converted barn in Hawkshead, before expansion saw it move to its current premises in Staveley. The brewery creates 120 barrels of beer every week, making it one of the larger breweries in the area. Twice a year, the brewery hosts a three-day beer festival in its very own purpose-built beer hall. Along with beers created by the Hawkshead Brewery, you can sample a selection of ales from smaller breweries that have been invited to attend. These are family friend events, and along the with beer, you will find live music and food.


Loweswater Beer Festival

  • Location: Kirkstile Inn, Loweswater, CA13 0RU
  • Date: April
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The Kirkstile Inn is a Lake District classic, having provided rest to weary travellers since the reign of the Tudors. It is a popular place to stop for visitors to the western lakes. Until 2009, it was home to the Loweswater Brewery, who created ales in one of the inn’s outbuildings. Loweswater Brewery merged with Cumbrian Legendary Ales and the brewery was subsequently moved to Hawkshead, whilst maintaining production of the famous Loweswater Gold. The inn celebrates its links to the brewery each year with a beer festival featuring around 20 different ales. Food is also available to buy.


Woolpack Cider and Sausage Festival

  • Location: The Woolpack Inn, Hardknott Pass, Eskdale, CA19 1TH
  • Date: June
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This isn’t strictly a beer festival, but for those who prefer their tipple to be of a more fruity variety then this festival is sure to be a hit. The Woolpack Inn is one of Cumbria’s oldest inns, and is nestled at the foot of the ancient Hardknott Pass. The pub holds this fun festival each April, and there are normally over 50 ciders and over 25 flavours of sausage (all locally sourced) to try. Entertainment can be found in the form of live music and an extraordinary tractor pull.


Kirkby Lonsdale Beer & Music Festival

  • Location: Kirkby Lonsdale Rugby Union Football Club, Underley Park, Kirkby Lonsdale, LA6 2DS
  • Date: April or May
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The rugby club at Kirkby Lonsdale host a beer and music festival each year that is free to attend. Along with a large selection of locally brewed beers and ciders, there is entertainment from around 30 local bands, a large marquee with children’s entertainment, and a trade area with crafts and other items to buy. Camping is also available with charges applicable.


The Strands Inn & Brewery Beer Festival

The stunning Wasdale valley is the location for this popular beer festival. The village of Nether Wasdale, at the western end of Wastwater, is home to The Strands Inn and Brewery. The brewery has been in operation since 2007, and there are around 30 different beers created each year. The festival is a three-day event each May and features beers created in the brewery. There is live music and food available throughout.


Millom Rugby Union Club Beer Festival & Social 7s Tournament

Each year Millom Rugby Club combines a three-day long social 7s tournament with a beer festival. Start each day watching the rugby matches, and then head over to the beer tent to sample various ales, with entertainment provided by a live band. In recent years a Ladies Tent has been added where you can purchase prosecco and gin. Food is available throughout the weekend and you can camp in the grounds for a small charge. All of the proceeds go to supporting the team’s junior division.


Keswick Beer Festival

  • Location: Keswick Rugby Club, Davidson Park, Crow Park Road, CA12 5EG
  • Date: June
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The Keswick Beer festival attracts thousands of visitors each year, and is one of the largest beer festivals in the area. Over 150 ales are featured each year, and a plethora of live acts contribute to the party atmosphere throughout. The festival is operated by the Keswick Rugby Club and the Keswick Lions, and all proceeds are split between the two groups who then use the money to fund local initiatives such as sports programmes for children. Tickets sell out quickly and are usually released in December.


Boot Beer Festival

  • Location: Boot Inn, Eskdale, CA19 1TG; Brook House Inn, Eskdale, CA19 1TG; Woolpack Inn, Eskdale, CA19 1TH
  • Date: June
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The Boot Beer festival originated after the disastrous foot and mouth outbreak at the turn of the millennium. In order to try and bring visitors back into the Eskdale Valley, three pubs joined forces to create this festival, that has since grown into a large four-day event featuring over 140 ales. Each of the three pubs, including the Boot Inn, the Brook House Inn, and the Woolpack Inn, hosts different activities, including quiz nights, live music and tractor pulling. Food is available throughout, and the festival welcomes children, with play areas around the valley. A shuttle bus is in operation between the venues, and the valley is best accessed via the La’al Ratty, a narrow gauge railway.


Furness CAMRA Ulverston Beer Festival

  • Location: Coronation Hall, County Rd, Ulverston, LA12 7LZ
  • Date: September
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This is a popular festival, attracting visitors from across the north-west of England. The festival takes place in Ulverston’s Coronation Hall, with plenty of space to accommodate the 100 plus ales that are available to try. On the Saturday night of the festival, there is live music and food is available throughout the event. There are commemorative glasses and awards for beers in various categories are given.


Grasmere Guzzler

The small village of Grasmere becomes alive with music and beer each September as Tweedie's Bar and Lodge, formerly known as the Dale Lodge Hotel, hosts the Grasmere Guzzler. This beer festival attracts a few thousand people into the village each year, and features well over 100 ales and ciders, sourced locally and from across the globe. There is live music, a BBQ, and during the day there is entertainment for children. You can also camp in the hotel’s grounds for a small charge.


Silloth Music & Beer Festival

  • Location: Silloth Green, Lawn Terrace, Silloth, Wigton, CA7 4AW
  • Date: September
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The Silloth Music and Beer Festival is a family-friendly event that takes place each year on the village green of this small coastal town. There is live music throughout the day and evening, and a huge selection of real ales and ciders to try, many of which are locally brewed. The festival is a not for profit event, with any surplus revenue generated used to fund future events on the village green. Children are permitted into the event during the day, and there are various activities for them to try.


Castle Green Beer Festival, Kendal

  • Location: Castle Green Hotel, Castle Green Lane, Kendal, LA9 6RG
  • Date: April
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The Castle Green Hotel in Kendal holds a beer festival each year, featuring a host of ales largely from the Bowness Bay Brewery with a select number of guest ales also included. There is live music on both nights of the festival. Furthermore, the adjacent restaurant, Alexander's, offers a discount on food for those attending the beer festival.


Broughton Festival of Beer

Coordinated by the Furness branch of CAMRA and the landlord of the Manor Arms, the Broughton Festival of Beer sees pubs across the town and in surrounding villages coming together to host a series of events and tastings over a four-day period. Over 90 ales and ciders are usually featured, and there is additional entertainment in the form of live music at some of the venues. Shuttle busses are available to transport you between the various locations.


Carlisle Beer Festival

The Carlisle Beer festival is held each year by the Solway branch of CAMRA, who have been holding beer festivals for over 25 years. Over 75 different beers and ciders are available to try, and the festival often features beers that have not been available anywhere else. There is an award ceremony with various categories and food is available throughout the event.


Cockermouth Beer Festival

Cockermouth has a long history with real ale being home to Jennings Brewery. Jennings, now owned by Marstons but operated as an independent business, has been brewing beer using water from the town’s River Derwent for over 100 years, and has customers all over the world. Jennings work with the voluntary group Cockermouth Round Table to put on a festival each year that not only celebrates this century long association, but also helps to raise money for good causes around the town. There is live music and over 60 real ales and ciders to try.