How it all began...

Over 40 years ago, in October 1980, Kendal hosted a new two-day event. Named the Kendal Mountaineering Film Festival, tickets were £5 and visitors were promised art, seminars, films, photography and - importantly - "two bars".

The original group of six who set up the event were Alan Evans, Jess Stock, Ian Wall, John Porter, Jim Curran and Brian Hall. Little did they know what they had started, or how influential the event would become. 

As the event grew in stature and popularity it attracted greater audience numbers, plus a veritable 'who's who' from the world of climbing and mountaineering. Yvon Chouinard, Reinhold Messner, Catherine Destivelle, Fred Beckey, Barry Blanchard, Lynn Hill, Jeff Lowe, Tommy Caldwell, Chris Sharma, Ueli Steck and Will Gadd to name but a few of those who have stood on the Kendal stage. And in film, the Festival became renowned as a launchpad and international showcase for mountain and outdoor film, premiering or screening such classics as The Bat and the Wicked, Five Days One Summer, Hard Grit, Touching The Void and Free Solo.

‘Kendal’ became recognised as the main annual social event for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK, and built its strong international reputation. 

As the Festival moves into its fifth decade, we hope we’re pretty much still in tune with the original event. We’re all climbers, skiers, runners or paddlers who are as keen to get out in the mountains as we are to produce a world-renowned Festival. Keeping it real, as they say.

Our vision is, and always has been, “To inspire more people to explore, respect and represent mountains, wilderness and their cultures” and today this seems more relevant and timely as ever.

Kendal today

Adventure comes in all shapes and sizes and so does our Festival

  • Over 150 speakers
  • World and UK film premieres
  • An international film competition
  • Entertaining events celebrating 12 adventure sports
  • A free to enter vibrant tented Basecamp village with speaker stages
  • Free Family Adventure Film sessions
  • Free online and live local school events
  • A rich programme of literature talks with book launches
  • Mountain inspired art
  • Engagement and interaction with the world's best outdoor brands
  • A fast and furious 10K trail run
  • Local food and drink
  • Plus live music and endless dance floor moves at a whole range of Festival parties...and much more!
© Kendal Mountain Festival 2023