*The content in this post was written in-line with the Covid-19 restrictions at the time. Please follow the current Government guidelines relating to lockdown, social distancing and all relevant matters.*

In an uncertain world, we all need something to look forward to, so how about 21 ideas for 2021? We’ve mixed free fun with lively days and nights, as well as a little luxury, to inspire your brighter new year.

Let’s dance

Who doesn’t love live music, with all the atmosphere, excitement and euphoria that conjures up? Cumbria aims to host some fabulous festivals in 2021, like the established Kendal Calling in Lowther’s Deer Park near Penrith, as well as the new Carlisle Country Music Festival, or you could head west to the outskirts of Silloth for Solfest where this year’s stars include Echo and the Bunnymen, Razorlight and Basement Jaxx. 

Organiser Tom Johnston says: “Festivals are freedom from day to day life. When we can all dance together again we will cherish every moment more so than ever before.”


Sporting chance

Armchair supporter or active athlete? Maybe 2021 is the year to up your game. With both Carlisle United and Barrow in the same football league, it’s an exciting time to be on the terraces. Perhaps you prefer the sound of leather on willow? Go and support your local cricket team. Or you could even try a sporting challenge of your own. How about the Asics Windermere Marathon to raise much-needed funds for the Brathay Trust?

The magnificent seven

There’s always much excitement in Cumbria about the announcement of new Michelin stars. At the time of writing, the county had seven venues, with more stars per head of population than London. If budget allows, head to Askham Hall near Penrith, Cottage in the Wood near Keswick, HRiSHi in Windermere, Forest Side in Grasmere, The Old Stamphouse in Ambleside or the famed L’Enclume or Rogan & Co in Cartmel. Alternatively, watch out for their chefs appearing at events like September’s Taste Cumbria food festival – there’s usually one star in the line-up and you can always grab a few free samples…

Taste Cumbria
Taste Cumbria


Cumbria is a fantastic natural playground, but sometimes you want something with a little more structure. How about the gorgeous treehouse at Lowther Castle, the historic quirkiness of Wray Castle on the shores of Windermere, the hands-on experience of Allan Bank at Grasmere, or the fun pools of Dalton Leisure Centre near Barrow? We defy the grown-ups not to get involved…

Discover the difference

Explore some unique Cumbrian experiences in 2021. Maybe climb to the top of the Bowder Stone or go boating or paddling in one of our many beautiful lakes? Watch the racing tides of Morecambe Bay and the Arnside Bore, or, even try your hand at glass blowing at the UK’s last producer of hand-blown crystal

Quiet time

Make 2021 the year you really take some time out for yourself and find a bit of space to breathe and relax. You could pick a spot with a bench and an amazing view, head to the woods for some forest bathing, do a bit of fishing, or even try some tranquil wild swimming

Loweswater - credit Suzanne Elsworth
Loweswater – credit Suzanne Elsworth

Country charm

We don’t think anywhere does a country show quite like Cumbria. With the farming community, the landscape, the traditions and the skills this county has to offer, they are a fascinating experience. Try the Cumberland Show near Carlisle, the Westmorland Show at Milnthorpe, or one of the small but mighty events like Grasmere Sports or Egremont Crab Fair.

Make the move

Could 2021 be the year you find your dream house? If working from home is your new normal, you’ve a hankering for isolation in a place by the sea, or if you want the bright lights of a town or city, perhaps it’s time to put down new roots. Our mortgage advisors are always happy to have an informal chat.

Family fun

Whether you’re looking for a way to tire out the kids at the weekend, want to broaden your minds with something educational, or even just find a new experience that the entire family can enjoy, you’re going to be spoilt for choice. How about walking with alpacas, swinging from the treetops or watching a great film for starters?

Shop local

There’s something gratifying about buying from a truly local independent business and the opportunities on Cumbria’s high streets are endless. 2021 is a year when they’re going to need your support, so shopping local is a win-win for everyone. 

Andrew Marshall, chairman of Cockermouth & District Chamber of Trade, says: “Fabulous high streets are something Cumbria has in abundance and taking a wander there can be a leisure activity all of its own. They’re great places to eat, drink, shop and explore, where you can find all your staples and some unique treats too.”

The Chopping Block Penrith
The Chopping Block Penrith

Read all about it

This county has been the inspiration for thousands of writers, whether that’s the poems of William Wordsworth, the novels of Melvyn Bragg, or the Cumbria Life magazine columns of Hunter Davies, so it’s no wonder it’s also home to some excellent literary events. 

Keswick’s Words by the Water, which brings together some of the best writers in the business every year, has something to suit everyone, from politicians and poets to Booker prizewinners and brilliant creators of fiction.

Spoil yourself

We think 2021 is the year to love yourself, so how about a bit of a pamper session? You could head to a luxury spa, discover a new relaxation treatment or even just splash out on a new lippy! For all-out self care, try somewhere that gives you the wellbeing benefits of being outdoors combined with an expert beauty boost, like The Falls Spa at Lodore Falls on the shores of Derwentwater.

The Falls Spa
The Falls Spa

From little acorns

There’s something very satisfying about growing things from scratch – whether that’s some simple bulbs or herbs in a pot, or watching a fledgling tree appear from a discarded conker or seed. Test your green fingers by getting something to bloom in your garden or on your windowsill, or helping out with a conservation event for the benefit of all, like those run by Cumbria Wildlife Trust.

Learn something new

Whether you had disastrous attempts to bake your own sourdough bread, or tried and failed to learn a new language, why not stick with your attempts at self improvement in 2021 and take on a new challenge? Have a look at Cumbria County Council’s adult learning classes or try something a little more bespoke, like a workshop with Carvetii Coffee, something hands-on and beautifully creative with a talented artisan, or a really practical skill like bricklaying or plumbing.

Carvetii Coffee
Carvetii Coffee

Discover the dark side

If you’ve never got up to watch the sunrise, or seen the sun set from the West Cumbrian coast, how about trying that this year? (Personally, we recommend every sunset should be accompanied by proper fish and chips, eaten straight from the paper – it enhances the whole experience!) Alternatively, you could do some stargazing in one of the county’s darkest spots. Have a look here for some inspiration.

Stage a night out 

Cumbria attracts some great theatre performances – from dance or drama, to comedy or critically-acclaimed live screenings. 

Deanne Shallcross from Whitehaven’s Rosehill theatre says: “Why travel to big cities to see quality live entertainment when it’s on your doorstep? Rosehill presents top performers across many genres, including comedian Gary Delaney on a warm-up run for his new tour. Experience TV’s one-liner extraordinaire up close and personal in our intimate auditorium.”

Step it out

Hands up who walked a whole lot more than usual during 2020? Why not continue the trend in 2021? It’s free and it’s great for your physical and mental health. Try the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Trail which is brilliantly accessible for all ages and abilities, do a circuit of Talkin Tarn near Carlisle, head to the coast near Barrow for some solitude or find a sheltered woodland stroll. Just make sure you’re prepared for whatever the Cumbrian weather may throw at you…

Do your bit

Community has come to the fore like never before in recent months, so perhaps you could help out at a local charity? Cumbria CVS supports all sorts of non profit organisations and has plenty of advice for those who want to volunteer.

The great British staycation

Ever noticed that you’re great at doing the tourist thing when you’re far away on holiday, but hopeless at seeing the attractions that are on your own doorstep? Why not change all of that in 2021 and explore somewhere close by? You could stay in a hotel or cottage in a valley you’ve never visited before, discover museums or historic houses you’ve only heard of, walk paths that are totally new to you, and eat out at some hidden gems. And the best bit? You’ll only be an hour or so away from home. Find some ideas at www.visitlakedistrict.com.

Storrs Hall
Storrs Hall

Love art

There’s no shortage of galleries to visit in Cumbria – we love the fine art of Abbot Hall in Kendal and the classics at Carlisle’s Tullie House. If you want to start your own collection, splash out on a Grayson Perry at Castlegate House Gallery in Cockermouth, or discover Cumbria artists at the Upfront Gallery in Unthank near Penrith. One very evocative exhibition for 2021 will be ‘Through the Locking Glass – one year on’ at Rheged in March.

Claire Logan-Stephens from Rheged, says: “For some artists, it was a time to produce their best work, with no interruptions. For others it challenged them to work in a very different way, with limited materials or a new inspiration.”

Work it out

If recent events have caused chaos in your working life, or if you’ve decided 2021 is the year to become master or mistress of your own destiny, this could be an exciting time to do things differently. Could you turn your passion into a business? Do you have amazing skills you could turn to your advantage if you were self employed? Or do you want to follow your dream and find a new career? Help is at hand from the likes of Cumbria Growth Hub

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