Visiting the Lake District in Winter

There’s no cosy place than a Lake District cottage after a walk out in the wintery fells

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Shake the snow globe and picture the scene

Crackling fires and gorgeous grub in cosy country pubs. Wrap-up-warm winter walks. Hearty hikes up snow-topped peaks (gear permitting, of course). Breathtaking sunsets and sunrises over the fells. Gazing in awe at spectacular starlit night skies. Sipping a cup of warming mulled wine (maybe two) at a Christmas market. Coffee stops in quaint villages. Mooching around museums and historic houses. Taking in a traditional pantomime, perhaps?

Now, stop picturing the scene and make it a reality by booking your winter wonderland trip to the Lake District. There’s no better place to visit in winter than the Lakes.

What are the best places to visit in the Lake District in winter?

The Lakes are a fabulous destination all year round and winter is particularly special – It’s not so crowded for one thing, which means fewer cars on the road too.

You can take advantage of any special last-minute offers on accommodation – and maybe even treat yourself to a Michelin-starred meal with the money you save?

We’re biased, of course, but we think anywhere in the Lake District is worth visiting. The winter-tinged landscapes are a treat for the eyes, with gentle yet bracing walks and more strenuous hikes to enjoy – just make sure you’re well prepared if you’re heading up high.

The pubs, cafes and restaurants are warm and welcoming – who doesn’t love a roaring fire? And many villages and towns are lit up in twinkly anticipation of Christmas.

Whatever you plan to get up to, we have cosy cottages to base yourself in all over the Lakes.

And remember to keep an on our What’s on guide so you can make the most of your visit.

Are there any Christmas markets in the Lake District?

Absolutely. Let’s face it, you aren’t doing the festive season properly without a visit to a traditional Christmas market or festival.

Christmas markets in the Lake District

Mince pies and mulled wine; local crafts and good food; live music and street performers – it wouldn’t be in the spirit of Christmas not to indulge. Here’s a rundown of a few you can look forward to in the Lakes this winter.

Ambleside Christmas Lights

Make sure you put Saturday 18th November in your diary if you’re visiting the Lakes this winter because that’s the day the Christmas lights are switched on in Ambleside.

What else can you expect? Well, stalls and live music; a family fun zone; not one but two Father Christmas cruises; and a lantern procession featuring Santa himself. And did we mention there’ll be some of the best fireworks of the year!? We have now.

Ulverston Dickensian Festival

Ulverston is just outside the National Park but it’s one of our favourite Cumbrian towns so we had just had to include it. Every November (25th and 26th this year) the clocks are turned back to Victorian times in this historic market town as it hosts its Dickensian Festival.

Locals (and visitors) dress up in period costume; a Victorian helter-skelter and fair entertains young and old; several performance stages keep the music flowing; strolling performers – fire eaters, magicians, jugglers and more – keep the laughs and gasps coming; food stalls fill empty stomachs; and a good time is had by all – finishing off with a grand costume parade through the town.

Hawkshead Christmas Fair

The cobbled streets of Hawkshead will come alive on the 2nd and 3rd of December for its annual Christmas Fair, with indoor and outdoor stalls, selling food, gifts and crafts; live music and other entertainment, including brass bands and roving street entertainers; a magical lantern parade; and a visit from the big man in red himself.

Carlisle Christmas Market

If you’re looking for a more traditional, German-style Christmas market (there will be bratwurst), then take a day trip out of the Lake District to Cumbria’s only city, Carlisle.

From December 1st to the 17th the city will be home to over 40 alpine-style festive chalets crammed to the rafters with food, drink, crafts, decorations, gifts, and a great big helping of Christmas cheer.

Holker Hall Winter Market

Close to the charming village of Cartmel, Holker Hall (home of the Cavendish family) is hosting a 3-day winter market from the 3rd to the 5th of November. You can look forward to a wide range of stalls selling artisan gifts, food and drink, handmade crafts and more. There’ll also be live music from local musicians to enjoy at this family-friendly event.

What else is going on this winter in the Lake District?

Lake District Christmas Events

Get booked in for some festive cheer with these fun for-all-the-family Lake District Events

Upcoming Christmas Events
All events

Stars shinin’ bright above you…

Of course, the Lake District landscape looks spectacular in the winter daylight with its rugged snow-dusted mountains, crystalline lakes, rolling countryside and wondrous woodland. But, when darkness falls, it’s time to look up at the clear winter skies.

Cumbria is blessed with some of the darkest skies in the UK – and never more so than in winter – which makes it a heavenly haven for nebular nabbers, constellation collectors, and shooting star spotters alike.

Read our guide to find out some of the best places to stargaze in the Lakes. Or check out what’s going on during the Cumbria Dark Skies Festival to see what stargazing events you can take part in.

Sail away

We think the best way to see the Lake District fells in all their frost-dusted, snow-blanketed winter splendour (if you’re not climbing them, that is) is from a boat.

Several companies operate all year round, including Ullswater Steamers, Windermere Lake Cruises, and Coniston Launch. Wrap up warm, climb aboard, and admire the views, before thawing out in front of a roaring fire in a local hostelry.

Lake District Ski Club

This one’s a bit niche, but If you’ve brought your own skis and you’re up for an adventure, coupled with a strenuous climb, you could see if the Lake District Ski Club is running its 360-metre button tow and accepting day skiers who aren’t members.

It will all depend on how much snow there is and how busy it is on the day, so always check before setting out.

Located on Raise near the top of one England’s highest peaks (Helvellyn), about an hour’s walk from Glenridding (longer if the snow is deep), it offers one of the best places to ski in England, with nine recognised (if a bit rough and ready) runs. But be warned – it’s quite an undertaking and you’ll need to be an experienced skier, physically fit and used to mountain environments.

And there’s more!

Plenty of historic houses and other attractions are open all year round these days so you won’t be short of things to do in the Lake District this winter. Here’s a small selection of our favourites.

Lakes Aquarium

Over two floors at the Lakes Aquarium, you’ll find hundreds of incredible creatures from the Lake District and around the world, including diving ducks, blind cave fish and the amazing axolotl – these awesome amphibians are able to regenerate their limbs, gills and parts of their eyes and brains. Pretty cool, eh?

Derwent Pencil Museum

Want to see a gigantic pencil? Be rude not to. Home to one of the biggest colour pencils in the world (almost eight metres long), the Derwent Pencil Museum in Keswick is well worth a visit.

You enter the museum through a recreation of the mine where graphite was first discovered in the sixteenth century, learn about the fascinating history of pencil making through the ages and see how Derwent make their fine art pencils today.

Blackwell House

One of the finest examples Arts & Crafts architecture, with nearly all of its original features still intact, Grade 1 listed Blackwell House also enjoys a gorgeous and peaceful setting with views over Windermere and the Coniston fells.

Formerly a holiday home and a school, it’s now recognised as an internationally significant masterpiece of artistic design. Please note: the house is closed for the first two weeks of January.


Overlooking Coniston Water, Brantwood was the home of Victorian writer and art critic, John Ruskin.

Now a museum dedicated to Ruskin and the arts, it holds events and exhibitions all year round, and is also co-home to the Cumbria Wisteria Collection – Ruskin was also a noted garden experimenter and the 250-acre estate features eight unique gardens created by him.

Where to Stay for Your Lake District Winter Break? 

Take a look below to find your perfect winter wonderland.

Enjoy your stay, and don’t forget to drop us a line if we can help you with anything to do with your visit to the Lake District this winter.

Book your stay for Christmas & New Year

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