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 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 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.”

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.”

This year for our 6th Book 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

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.


The pandemic pinned us all down, fixed us in place, bound us to our homes, our gardens, our neighbourhoods. For many of us, the mountains, seas, rivers and forests became places we could only dream of reaching. Now, at last, people can move once more -- can reach again the landscapes that live deep in their hearts and minds and bodies. So it’s right as can be that this year’s Kendal Mountain Festival takes ‘Movement’ as its theme, celebrating the several rich senses of that word: emotion, physical action, and -- in the month of COP26 -- political change.

The 2021Book Festival programme sings and rings with movement of all kinds: through cave-systems and forests, over fell-sides and mountain summits, running, walking and climbing, travelling by train, bike and foot, into Muslim Europe and the future of ice on Earth. Voices join us from India, South Africa and Europe, raised in celebration, exploration and passionate defence of the natural world and our part in it. Come, lend an ear, be moved

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.

The first Open Mountain event 'inclusion and connection' was held at Kendal Mountain Literature Festival in 2019. 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 reponses to some 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. 

In our third year, our particular focus was on unlocking landscapes, big and small. What does it mean to you to gain access to a landscape, and how does it happen? Are there barriers to face, physical or psychological? We wanted to know about connections you have made with places and how you approach different green and living spaces, from plant-pots to local parks to mountain ranges and oceans. You could tell us about a place that makes you feel like there are no gates, no walls and no locks, or a place you’ve struggled to find the key to.

You can watch the 2021 Open Mountain session by clicking the button below. 

the john muir trust proudly supports open mountain

© Kendal Mountain Festival 2022