Kendal Mountain Book Festival

Our Book Festival is an interwoven and much loved part of the award-winning Kendal Mountain Festival, which takes place in Kendal each November.

At its heart, Kendal Mountain Book Festival celebrates and explores our relationships with nature, landscape, people and place sharing ideas, stories, and voices from around the world. Through literature and the arts the Festival provides an opportunity to pause and explore the living world around us.

Our Book Festival Director, Paul Scully says:“Our Festival is a place where we can reflect on our relationships with nature, landscape, society and to each other. A space where people are challenged to be receptive to different ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving. We hope you are able to join us, no matter who you are, in this wonderful community of ideas, words and wanderings.

Our 2022 Book Festival was a hybrid event – we welcomed in-person audiences and our events were filmed and are now available on our online player. See you there!


“The first principle of ecology is that ‘everything is connected to everything else’, or as John Muir famously put it: ‘When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.’ Yes, we are all climbers together on this Earth, joined to one another by ropes visible and invisible. The theme of this year’s Kendal Mountain Festival is solidarity; we want to celebrate and affirm the immense webwork of connections and relations that extends across and between the human and more-than-human worlds. As any mountaineer knows, solidarity is strength and solidarity is safety. Each is responsible for the other and reciprocal with the other. Successfully to traverse a heavily crevassed glacier, or to top out on a big-wall climb, requires an intricate dance of taking-in and paying-out rope, of togetherness and teamwork, of duty to the group. So this year we come together -- our writers, film-makers and artists, and you our audiences -- to recognise the vital importance of unity, mutual support and generosity of spirit. Viva!”

“THANK YOU for inviting me to Kendal! It was an amazing experience — such energy! Such enthusiasm! Such wonderful people!”

Deirdre Wolownick, author of The Sharp End of Life: A Mother's Story

“Absolutely superb. A natural storyteller & connector of ideas & themes. Wonderful to hear about his writing approach.”

A viewer on Dara McAnulty's 2020 talk

“A witty, gentle, original and very modern quest for the magical (not the mythical) in Britain’s landscape, which both made me laugh and moved me.”

Robert Macfarlane on Jini Reddy, Wanderland

“Such a vibrant and well attended event. I came away feeling that mountain related writing is alive and well.”

Mick Fowler on Boardman Tasker Award 2019

Festival Bookshop

Brewery Arts Centre

Looking for your next read? We’ve got all your reading needs covered at our Festival bookshop. We will stock all the books from our current programme. Come in for a browse, be inspired and take away a cracking read. Perfect place for buying your Christmas presents.There will be author book signings all weekend.


We are honoured to host two very prestigious literature awards at Kendal...

Boardman Tasker Award for Mountain Literature

Every year we have the honour of hosting the famous award at Kendal.

Established in 1983 to commemorate the lives of Peter Boardman and Joe Tasker, the Boardman Tasker Charitable Trust celebrates their legacy by awarding the annual Award for Mountain Literature and the Lifetime Achievement Award.


We are proud to be working alongside the The Nature Chronicles Prize, a brand new nature writing award, a global biennial competition.

Created in memory of Prudence Scott, a lifelong nature diarist who died in 2019, the award aims to find engaging and unique essay length works which share a commitment to truth telling and respond to the time we are in and the world as it is.

We'll be hosting the award-ceremony in November 2022 when one writer will win £10,000! And a further 5 shortlisted writers will receive £1000.

Open Mountain

In 2019 we launched Open Mountain, a panel discussion with performance prose and poetry which showcases people under-represented in the outdoors.

Open Mountain as a project is focused on inclusion in and connection with wild places, and on redefining mountain literatures and cultures to include voices and experiences often excluded or invalidated.

The first Open Mountain event was held at Kendal Mountain Literature Festival in 2019 under the theme “Inclusion and Connection”. Created out of a discussion with the poet Kate Davis we then developed it with the help of poet Polly Atkin and writer Anita Sethi. We sought submissions from people who consider themselves under-represented in mountain and outdoor literature, asking for responses to questions about how they felt about the outdoors and nature writing. We were overwhelmed and deeply impressed by the breadth, range and quality of work submitted.

One of the questions we want to ask with Open Mountain is how we make real change, and what real change looks like. That might be on the part of event organisers, editors and publishers, but also audiences and readers. What changes can we all make as individuals, and what changes do we need to make together?

In this, our fourth year, Open Mountain is proud once again to be partnering with the John Muir Trust. This year’s theme is “Affording Access”.

Submissions have now closed. We will be launching our fifth Open Mountain in April 2023. 

the john muir trust proudly supports open mountain

© Kendal Mountain Festival 2023