For centuries, villages in the Lake District have been celebrating their local traditions and gathering together during the summer months. These very special events are a wonderful way for guests to get a taste of Lakeland life and traditions, with many of these sports and traditions unique to Cumbria.
Hound trailing is a very old Lakeland sport and the first recorded hound trails at Grasmere took place in 1840.
In this uniquely Cumbrian sport, hounds run over the fells after a scented aniseed trail in a test of speed and stamina. The trail hounds can average speeds of 20 miles per hour. The best hounds ignore distractions such as drinking from becks or rabbit scents to cover the 10 miles in between 25 to 45 minutes.
For spectators, the most exciting sight is the finish where trainers use whistles and bells to encourage their hound across the line.
Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling
This traditional sport, brought over by the Vikings, takes place at summer shows across the National Park. The earliest recorded match was in 1785 on a frozen Windermere near to Rawlinson's Nab.
Many wrestlers wear the traditional costumes of white long johns, embroidered velvet trunks and a white vest. The wrestlers 'tekk hod' – take hold - and grasp each other with their chin on the other's shoulder. The loser is the first to touch the ground with any part of his body, apart from the soles of his feet. The contest is judged on the best of three falls. Breaking hold is the equivalent of a fall.
The name of this sport comes from the local term 'fell' meaning mountain. Fell runners tackle arduous off-road routes at high levels and with gruelling gradients. Local children as young as 9 take on this challenge which is really inspiring.
Rushbearing processions take place in Ambleside and Grasmere in the summer. They follow the tradition of gathering reeds from the lakes to replace the covering over the earthen floor of the local church. Children of the parish carry a cross made of rushes or flowers, and a band leads the procession to the church.
Annual Lake District events and festivals
See what's on in Cumbria and the Lake District throughout the year with our guide to the region's annual events.
Combining running, climbing and other mountain sports with a varied line-up of music, talks and film.
An annual gathering of gypsies and travellers, who come together to buy and sell horses – more than 5000 can be seen here during the weekend.
Established for almost 180 years, this is the region’s top county and agricultural show.
A traditional Cumbrian event showcasing many of the local sports we have mentioned above.
A traditional procession and a programme of children’s sporting events.
Offers visitors an insight into Cumbrian life on the shores of Coniston Water.
Visit for the displays of preserved machinery and vehicles from days gone by, with plenty of other activities for all the family to enjoy too.
A day dedicated to the region’s traditional sports, alongside a variety of food and trade stands.
An international classical music festival held in several beautiful locations across the Lake District.
Another chance to see this Cumbrian tradition in an event which dates back over 400 years.
Held at Cartmel Racecourse, this traditional country show is a hit with both visitors and locals alike.
Featuring gundog trials, horse trials and its own food and beer festival.
A small country show with livestock displays, trade stands and events including dog display shows.
One of the Lake District’s most popular traditional events, with competitions in several of the local area’s sports.
A lively county show showcasing local food producers, a variety of livestock and animals, and a number of interesting displays and shows.
A chance to see some traditional sports in action as well as the region’s local breed of sheep, the Herdwick Sheep.
A gathering for those who love adventure, film and interesting talks.
Ambleside Lantern Procession
A pretty procession through the town, while hundreds of people carry paper lanterns through the streets, backed by the display of Christmas lights.
A gathering of stalls selling food, drinks, gifts, arts and crafts, perfect for a spot of Christmas shopping.
Discover the Lake District
Discover even more of what the Lake District has to offer with our complete guide to the Lake District. If you've fallen in love with this National Park's charms and quirks, head to our collection of cottages in the Lake District to book a holiday you will never forget.