Why Cumbria is the perfect place to get Creative

Cumbria’s exciting and respected arts scene makes it a perfect place to immerse yourself into a degree course. With galleries, museums and festivals right here on your doorstep, The University of Cumbria is a wonderful place to nurture your imagination and embark upon your creative journey.


Let’s start with festivals. There are a whole host of artistic festivals that happen right here in Cumbria that celebrate everything from outdoor filmmaking to comic books! It’s also home to one of the UK’s most popular music festivals: Kendal Calling, which has seen headliners in the past including Snoop Dogg, Elbow, Kaiser Chiefs, Run DMC, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Madness, Basement Jaxx, Rudimental and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. Here are just some of the festivals you can enjoy whilst studying here in Cumbria.

Keswick Film Festival (February)
Organised by the local Keswick Film Club, the festival also includes the Osprey Short Film Awards.

Words by the Water (March)
This literary festival takes place over 10 days and allows readers and writers to get together for a series of lectures, discussions, workshops and special exhibitions.

Rock The Fells (July)
Set up your tent and camp at this small rock festival at the edge of the Lake District. As it’s only a day festival, you can spend your Sunday taking in the picturesque sights of the Lake District with a relaxing walk.

The Lakes International Comic Art Festival (October)
This celebration of comic art takes place in the centre of Kendal and celebrates comic writers and artists from around the world. There are exhibitions, workshops, masterclasses and films, not to mention the opportunity to meet some of the most famous comic artists.

LICAF blog,

Kendal Mountain Festival (November)
This mountain film festival aims to get the public exploring the great outdoors. The festival features guest speakers, filmmakers and athletes and is dubbed the ‘Oscars of outdoor filmmaking’ and the films celebrate all aspects of outdoor life including extreme sports, wildlife and environmental documentaries.

KMF logo,

Art Scene

As well as the incredible festivals (we didn’t even get around to mentioning to food ones), there is a magnificent art scene in Cumbria with magnificent galleries peppered around the county. One of the highlights has to be Carlisle’s Tullie House. This wonderful Grade One listed building was the winner of the Cumbria Life 'Best Museum' Culture Award 2017 and houses considerable collections of fine and decorative art, human history and natural sciences. There are three permanent galleries and two temporary spaces, hosting a frequently changing variety of art. If you’re looking to get more hands-on, the Carlisle Arts Learning Centre on West Pomfret Street has a marvelous social compass and offers some wonderful workshops and classes for adults, including art, ceramics, photography and jewellery making. It's a wonderful way to meet kindred spirits whilst brushing up on your skills.


There are a multitude of theatres in Cumbria, where you can head to watch an amateur or professional show. The Theatre by the Lake’s recent productions include The Picture of Dorian Gray, starring Emmerdale actor Jonathan Wrather, and Educating Rita, acted exceptionally by Stephen Tomkinson and Jessica Johnson. The Old Fire Station is another popular venue, with a programme celebrating live music, comedy, theatre and art exhibitions that is packed to bursting. Don't be fooled by the intimacy of this venue; performers include Matt Richardson, Pete Doherty and Mark Watson and tickets are excellent value. If you’re looking to get involved with amateur theatre, the West Walls Theatre is spectacular. The company hosts 7 internal productions a year, giving you plenty of opportunities to tread the boards.

Whilst both impressive, the university also owns its own highly-regarded Stanwix Theatre: a premier performance space that is right at the heart of the uni’s community. The Main House Theatre seats around 200 people and is state of the art thanks to a total refurbishment in 2015. Around 80 different performances are staged here each year and it's regularly the home for visiting guests, who have included in the past, Eddie Izzard, Al Murray and Ardale O'Hanlan. It’s an incredible resource to our Musical Theatre students.

Stanwix stage,

When you combine a passion for the arts with one of the nation’s most beautiful counties, it’s no wonder that Cumbria has born some of the UK’s most celebrated creatives. William Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter, Postman Pat author John Cunliffe and the great architect Giles Gilbert Scott. With breathtakingly beautiful, inspirational, landscapes making up the heart of Cumbria; a bustling art scene and some of the UK’s best creative courses, it’s a great place to start your creative career.

If you’re passionate about joining an industry in a county that allows you to exercise your creativity, enrolling into one of the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Arts courses can help you get there. Whether it’s Creative Writing BA (Hons); Games Design BA (Hons); Musical Theatre BA (Hons); Graphic Design BA (Hons) or Wildlife Media BA (Hons) – the only course of its type in the UK – that ignite a fire within you, our specialised courses boast close creative industry connections and a focus on practical proficiency that gives you the confidence and skillset you need to achieve your ambitions. It’s no wonder that 96.6% of The University’s Institute of Arts students are either working or in further study within six months of graduating (DLHE 2017).