Kendal Mountain Literature Festival

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

At heart, Kendal Mountain Literature 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 Festival Patron Robert Macfarlane says from last year’s online Festival - “The Festival is full of songs about the dark times, is rich with stories of nature’s nurture, and of care extended across borders, time-zones, differences and distances. Online events lose in immediacy but they gain in inclusivity. People who would never otherwise be able to attend a festival event in person can this year come together in our audiences from all round the planet -- and that is hugely to be valued.”


We are delighted to have The Caravan and Motorhome Club as our Literature Festival partner this year.

Our Literature 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.”

This year for our 5th Literature Festival we are staging a hybrid event – we will welcome in-person audiences as well as hosting online events. See you there!

“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


Tickets for our live Literature Festival will be released in September, in the meantime you can catch up on last year's incredible talks on demand via the new KENDAL MOUNTAIN PLAYER!


We are honoured to host three 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.

Future places - environmental essay prize

We are living in a time of urgent environmental challenge; ecosystems are under stress and many species are in decline, but perhaps more than ever before we are also aware of the human capacity for restoration in the natural world.

The Future Places Prize calls for essays and poems that illustrate how literature can be a revelatory and imaginative force for transforming the way we encounter—and understand our place within—the living world.


“We are now in the mountains and they are in us – kindling enthusiasm, making every nerve quiver”, wrote John Muir in 1911.

Over a century later, and mountains are even more deeply in us – drawing millions of people to them each year in search of adventure, enlightenment, beauty, wonder, wildness – and nerve-quivering fear.

As the virtual world consumes more of our time and attention, and as environmental crisis deepens around the globe, so our encounters with mountains and the natural world grow ever more vital. The stories we tell about the landscapes we live in and the places we love, are crucial ways of grounding ourselves in these uncertain times.

I am so proud to be a patron of the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival – a celebration and exploration of our stories of place. I love the Lake District, the mountains – and all that this Festival stands for. Its great theme is that of imagination’s relationship with landscape – and its great vision is to bring about participation by means of inspiration. So please come and join us here in Kendal.

Open Mountain

In 2019 we launched Open Mountain - a panel discussion with performance prose and poetry, showcasing 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.

In 2019 we were delighted to invite to the stage: CMarie Fuhrman - co-editor of Native Voices (an anthology of Native American poetry), writer Claudine Toutoungi, poet Asim Khan, walking guide and writer Ange Harker and author Kate Davies.

The 2020 event was presented by Polly Atkin and Kate Davis, and we were delighted to invite to the screen; Kim-Marie Walker shared her essay ‘Scrambling’ – the voice of a Black American, a descendant of Africans enslaved & navigator of systemic racism, who is indebted to nature’s kinship; Andrew Wang described his fell running experiences; Elspeth Wilson discussed how we live in a body; Nayeli Urquiza-Haas shared a glimpse into climbing cultures and spaces in Mexico City; and Aileen Mckay spoke about the outside inside.

Submissions are now open for Open Mountain 2021: Unlocking The Landscape.

© Kendal Mountain Festival 2021