Kicking off tomorrow, Kendal Mountain Festival boasts a more diverse range of films and speakers this year as part of an aim to showcase people under-represented in the outdoors.

The highlights include ​a talk by Dierdre Wolownick​, who became the oldest woman to climb El Capitan, an ascent of the Old Many of Hoy by blind climber Jesse Dufton, and an event hosted by British survival expert Megan Hine featuring inspirational individuals who have overcome personal barriers in their lives.

Around 18,000 adventure fans are expected to flock to the outskirts of the Lake District for the Kendal Mountain Festival this year, which bills itself as “the main social event for outdoors enthusiasts in the UK.”

Jesse Dufton’s blind ascent of the Old Man of Hoy


The four-day programme of more than 200 sessions, speakers and film showings aims to celebrate the best stories from the world of adventure. It spans human endurance, wild environments, fascinating cultures and inspirational journeys.

The theme of this year’s festival is ‘Openness’. Artistic Director, Claire-Jane Carter said:​ “Openness ensures freedom and creativity; the mainstays of mountain culture. The festival theme is both a call to action to the outdoor community and a commitment from our programming team to challenge the status quo and broaden the people, places, experiences and ideas represented on stage.”

Kendal Mountain Literature Festival Patron, Robert Macfarlane added: “To be open to the world is an ethical – even political – stance, as well as an aesthetic one. At a time when borders are being reinforced, positions hardened, prejudices deepened, when walls are literally being built between communities and nation-states, openness beco​mes vital. Now, more than ever, we must keep our minds and our mountains open.”

A session will welcome five new writers to share their perspectives, including Polly Atkin, Anita Sethi and Kate Davis. Called ‘Open Mountain’, it will raise questions about who is allowed in, or shut out of, particular places and conversations, and why.

A talk in the festival’s ‘Basecamp’ area

The festival will also feature ​Dierdre Wolownick​, who, inspired by her world famous son, climber Alex Honnold, became the oldest woman to climb El Capitan at the age of 66, and an event hosted by British survival expert Megan Hine featuring inspirational individuals who have overcome personal barriers in their lives.

Inspiring stories

Climbing will be represented at the festival by leading climber Alex Megos, alpine mountaineer and photographer Ben Tibbetts, and crack climber Pete Whittaker. Two running films will be premiered: ​Wainwrights​, which follows Paul Tierney’s record breaking challenge this summer, and ​a look behind the scenes of The Berghaus Dragon’s Back Race​.

For those looking to slow the pace, ​Wilderness Songs will use 30 years of wildlife sound recordings made by the Emmy award-winning experts behind Frozen Planet and Blue Planet, from the frozen seas of Antarctica to the vibrant jungles of Costa Rica.

Kendal Mountain Festival will run from November 14 – 17. The full programme can be found on the festival’s website.