In an industry dominated by supermarkets selling cheap imported food, food markets and festivals have an important role in keeping local suppliers in business. They are a great way for people to find out more about what sort of produce is available in their own area, and try new foods that they may not have considered buying before.
Food markets tend to be regular, smaller affairs with traders selling their goods, whilst food festivals generally take place once a year, and feature forms of entertainment alongside market traders.
Cumbria has an amazing array of specialities, including the curled Cumberland Sausage, Grasmere Gingerbread, Kendal Mint Cake, and Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding. In fact, we love food so much that we have several days a year dedicated to celebrating our local produce.
Across the national park and wider county area, you will find an array of food festivals and farmers markets taking place throughout the year where you can experience the culinary delights that the area has to offer. We have listed them all here, so you can hopefully find something taking place near you.
- Brampton (by Moot Hall): Last Saturday of every month, 9.30am-1.30pm
- Brough-Under-Stainmore (Memorial Hall): Third Saturday of every month. 9.00am – 1.00pm.
- Carlisle (City Centre): First Friday of every month, 9am-3.15pm
- Cartmel (Priory): Third Friday of every month (February – December), 10-4pm
- Cockermouth (URC Church): Every Friday, 9am-12.30pm
- Egremont (Market Hall): Third Friday of every month, 9.30am-1.30pm
- Kendal (Market Place): Last Friday of every month, 9am-3.15pm
- Keswick (Market Square): Every Thursday & Saturday, 8am-4.30pm
- Orton (Village Centre): Second Saturday of every month, 9.30am-2pm
- Penrith (Market Square): Third Tuesday of every month, 9.30am-2.30pm
- Pooley Bridge (Behind the Sun Inn): Last Sunday of every month (April – September), 10.30am-2.30pm
- Sedbergh (Joss Lane Car Park): Every Wednesday, 8.30am-2.30pm
The markets are stocked with produce that have either been grown / reared locally, or have been baked / cooked locally. You will find a delightful choice of goods here with Herdwick lamb, high quality cheeses, chutneys, cakes, and puddings all available. Most take place once a month with some being more frequent.
Food Festivals in the Lake District
TASTE CUMBRIA FOOD FESTIVALS
- Taste Cumbria Kirkby Lonsdale: 2019 Date TBC (Mid April)
- Taste Cumbria Ulverston: 2019 Date TBC (Late May)
- Taste Cumbria Whitehaven: 2019 Date TBC (Late July)
- Taste Cumbria Cockermouth: 2019 Date TBC (Late September)
- Taste Cumbria Christmas (Cockermouth): 8th & 9th December, 2018
In 2009, the town of Cockermouth experienced devastating levels of flooding that decimated most of the businesses based in the town centre. The following year, in a bid to demonstrate that the town was open for business, a group of local businesses worked with the CN Media group to create the Taste Cumbria Food Festival.
The first festival was held in September 2010 and was a huge success. Since then, Taste Cumbria has expanded with a number of festivals and events taking place across the county each year. Along with market stands selling a delicious selection of locally produced goods, each festival features celebrity chef demonstrations, talks and masterclasses, as well as pop-up restaurants and entertainment for the whole family.
For each festival, the main event is free, but the demonstrations, talks, and masterclasses are usually ticketed events that must be booked in advance. All of the events take place within their respective town centres with the aim to bring visitors into the local shops, as well as the festival itself.
KENDAL FESTIVAL OF FOOD
- Location: Kendal Town Centre
- Date: 2019 Dates TBC (March)
- Times: TBC
- Cost: TBC
The Kendal Festival of Food first took place in 2009, and in recent years, has attracted over 30,000 visitors into the town. The festival took a break in 2017, but is due to return in 2018, bigger and better than ever. The festival hosts a huge food market where you can purchase delicious Cumbrian goods. There are cookery demonstrations, competitions, and activities for children. It’s a great day out for the whole family.
CUMBRIA SAUSAGE FESTIVAL
- Location: Muncaster Castle, Ravenglass, Cumbria, CA18 1RQ
- Date: 4th-6th May, 2019
- Times: 10.30am to 5pm
- Cost: TBC
First held in 2015 the Cumbria Sausage Festival is now a favourite event for visitors to the Lake District during the May bank holiday weekend. The festival offers much more than sausages with a large market selling delicious Cumbrian goods with cakes, chutneys, artisan breads, high quality meats, and delicious cheeses all available to try and buy.
In addition, there are celebrity chef demonstrations, and various activities for children. Entry to the festival is free but you need to pay to enter Muncaster Castle gardens, with adult prices starting at around £9.
SEDBERGH FOOD FESTIVAL
- Location: Various Venues, Sedbergh
- Date: 2019 Date TBC (Mid June)
- Times: TBC
- Cost: TBC
Local businesses in the small town of Sedbergh, near Kendal, come together each June to celebrate Cumbria’s rich food heritage. The festival takes place in various venues across the town, with events such as the “Mad Hatters Tea Party”, and “Brunches of the World” being very popular. The showcase event takes place during the first weekend of the festival, when a large market takes over the town centre. There are also events offering entertainment, such as talks and film screenings. You can find more information on their Facebook page.
EDEN FOOD & FARMING FESTIVAL (PENRITH ON A PLATE)
- Location: Penrith Town Centre
- Date: 2019 Date TBC (Mid to Late July)
- Times: Varies (Penrith on a Plate 10am-5pm)
- Cost: Free
The Eden Food & Farming Festival is a celebration of everything that the borough of Eden in eastern Cumbria has to offer the gastronomic world. The festival is a week-long event that begins with Penrith on a Plate on the first Saturday, and finishes with the Penrith Agricultural Show on the second Saturday. Between these two events, there are tours of various local producers available, as well as talks and concerts to attend.
Penrith on a Plate is the showcase event for producers with a large market for traders to sell their produce. During this event, Penrith town centre is also host to celebrity chef demonstrations, street entertainment and activities for children.
CARLISLE FOODIES FEST
- Location: Carlisle City Centre, CA3 8NX
- Date: 2019 Dates TBC (Mid to Late July)
- Times: 10am-6pm
- Cost: TBC (Normally free and £5 for chef demonstrations)
The Carlisle Foodies Fest takes over the pedestrianised section of Carlisle city centre each year, and is a joint enterprise between Carlisle City Council and RR events. The festival celebrates Cumbrian food and drink, alongside international cuisine. There is a huge market with traders from across Cumbria and further afield that is free to attend. There are also celebrity chef demonstrations for which you will need to book a ticket in advance. In addition, there are street performances and activities for children.
HOLKER CHILLI FEST
- Location: Holker Hall, Cark-In-Cartmel, Grange-Over-Sands, LA11 7PL
- Date: 2019 Dates TBC (Early September)
- Times: 10.30am-5pm
- Cost: TBC
This quirky chilli festival is held each year in the grounds of the magnificent Holker Hall estate. Chilli companies from across the UK attend, and you can sample a plethora of fiery goods, if you dare. There will be cookery demonstrations, fire eating performers, musicians and other performers, as well as children’s activities. The highlight of the festival is the chilli eating competition, where competitors try some of the hottest chilli products on the planet.