Best time to visit the Lake District

You pack for any weather when you vacation in the Lake District, and you will usually be glad you did.
This is the wettest region of England, and when you’re exposed to the elements on a fell, a rain shower turning up out of nowhere, it really can feel like it. Even in May, typically the driest month of the year, daytime showers are common, and fogs can envelop mountain views at any time, making it essential to properly prepare when walking. It’s very hard to complain when the rain results in lakes and landscapes as impressive as these. Come in the spring to admire fluffy lambs and Wordsworth’s daffodils in all their glory, autumn for long days and magnificent foliage, the winter for snow-dusted fells, summer for idyllic family activity vacations and the cream of Lakeland festivals. The only rules of thumb here are to avoid the most popular locations in peak season, and always bring your raincoat, just in case.

The Lake District, month by month

Springtime brings with it bouncing baby lambs, tapestries of bluebells in the woodlands, and the daffodils that so inspired William Wordsworth, one of the Lake Poets, on a walk around Ullswater. April is the start of the main tourist season in England’s largest national park, with May your best chance of dry skies, although even then it’s never guaranteed. June is a fantastic month for vacationing in the Lake District too, with long days, butterflies and bees in the hedgerows, and the summer crowds still a little way off. The busiest months of the year in the Lake District are July and August, when school vacations coincide with pleasant temperatures up to around 19°C, and views from the fells seem to go on endlessly, as do the lines of walkers on popular routes. Well-known destinations such as Bowness-on-Windermere, Grasmere and Keswick get intensely crowded in summer, so either pop by for the day or give them a miss entirely – other parts of Lakeland, such as Buttermere further to the west, are much less-visited but just as attractive, with great walks all around. With the advent of autumn the crowds thin away like the leaves on the trees. From September it gets milder, you can expect temperatures around 9°C, but it’s a wonderful season for walking. Woodland foliage is ravishingly colourful in October, the days are still long enough to tackle the higher fells, and the promise of a crackling fire in a local pub every afternoon will keep you plodding along happily. While most family activity vacations run through the warmer summer months, hardier souls can look at an October half term getaway. The Lake District weather, always predictably unpredictable, is even more changeable at this time of year, so instructors wisely keep their itineraries flexible. For instance, if rain makes rock climbing unsuitable, you might head for an indoor climbing wall instead. By November the rain showers are getting heavier and more regular, but strong winds make umbrellas impractical. The onset of winter towards the end of the month brings with it cool, crisp days and bracing winds. It’s always advisable to check the forecasts if walking at higher altitudes and to advise people of your intended route – in late autumn and winter it’s crucial. From December through to March, snowfall is likely. The lower-lying fells get around 20 days of the white stuff every winter, while further up there is a much heavier dusting. Hill sheep with their woolly fleeces are little bothered, but you’ll want thick jumpers, waterproofs and headgear to be comfortable. Crampons are recommended for fell walking. The advantages of visiting the Lake District in winter are far fewer people around and stunning views on clear days. January and February get very cold, as low as -3°C at night, but when it feels as though you’ve got the whole place to yourself, who’s complaining?

Lake District Weather Chart

RAIN (mm)

Our top Lake District Vacation

Cumbria Way walking tour in England

Cumbria Way walking tour in England

Classic walks with high passes & remarkable views

From £1060 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2023: 22 Jul
Travel Team
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Lake District festivals & events

Agricultural shows take place in the Lake District throughout the year. They’re great fun for visitors and great for bringing communities together and helping traditional skills survive. Livestock judging is combined with sheepdog demonstrations, sporting activities such as fell running, falconry and Cumberland wrestling, and competitions to judge the best shepherd’s crook. The Coniston Country Fair, held in June, is one of the best.

There are monthly farmers’ markets across the Lake District – Keswick has a well-attended one every Thursday and Saturday. The best way to sample regional specialties, from curly Cumberland sausage to Cartmel sticky toffee pudding and Grasmere gingerbread, they’re also a valuable source of income to local producers, so it’s money well-spent.
Food festivals are also prolific here, some dedicated to sausages or chillies, but all championing and sustaining the region’s culinary heritage. Craft brewing is big in the Lake District too, and there’s no shortage of beer festivals for you to quaff your way through the local ales. For something a little more unusual, the Egremont Crab Fair in September also hosts the World Gurning Championship!

March sees the annual literary festival ‘Words by the Water’ take place at the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick. Lakes Alive, held in early September across multiple locations, is another major cultural event, while King Pocky’s Derwent Water Regatta in midsummer is a quirky bonanza that will float the boats of fans of Swallows and Amazons.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Oliver Clarke] [Intro: Emphyrio] [Market day at Keswick: Bill Boaden]