Where to go in the North West for festival vibes without the three-day hangover
If your idea of festival-going is a lost weekend of warm beer, no sleep, and body-hammering hedonism, a "fitness festival" may seem like an abomination. But bear with us, exercise and partying actually mix better than you think. They're both all about the endorphins after all; combine the two and you're flying (and without the dramatic crash the following week).
It's perhaps why the standard "yoga field" at a music festival has taken on a life all of its own in recent years and there’s now a full calendar of events where movement, rather than music, is the main attraction. Be it running, yoga, hiking or outdoor swimming.
We've put together a list of local wellness and fitness festivals where you can meet people who are into the same scene as you, try out new sports and activities, and soak up the festival vibe.
There's often live music or DJs in the evenings. And many fitness festivals have on-site bars serving booze; it’s not all coconut water and turmeric tea. There’s usually a decent range of food trucks too.
Another plus point; you can expect the surroundings to be a little bit special; some of these events are held in National Parks where the views are as famous as any Glastonbury headliner.
In our roundup below, we've got one-day and weekend festivals in and near Manchester and across the North West, including in the Lakes and the Peak District. Wild weekends but without the regrets? We like the sound of that.
THE FARM CLUB YOGA FESTIVAL | PICKMERE, KNUTSFORD | 14 AND 15 MAY
Head to Pickmere Lake for this mood-lifting wellbeing festival featuring yoga, wild swimming, food cooked over the fire, and live DJs. Held at bucolic fitness haven The Farm Club, it’s a chance to immerse yourself in nature without having to stray too far from your home comforts (you can be back in Manchester in 45 minutes). Highlights include breathwork and a sunset swim in the lake led by Leo Oppenheim, a cacao ceremony with Full Power Cacao, and live soundtrack movement sessions with Wild Heart Yoga (pictured).
KESWICK MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL | KESWICK, LAKE DISTRICT | 20-22 MAY
Um, isn’t this Kendal’s territory? What next, Keswick Mint Cake? A Kendal Pencil Museum? Turns out there’s a pretty big difference between the Kendal and the Keswick Mountain Festivals with Keswick’s spring event focusing on races, mountain skills, and outdoor activities, while Kendal’s winter festival is more about films, speakers and literature. With a campsite, a festival village and live music, Keswick promises a proper festival feel for families and outdoor adventurers. Highlights include a swim across Derwent Water, a multi-day triathlon challenge, and a vertical run up Skiddaw (in case merely walking up one of England's highest mountains is a bit too tame for you).
TRAIL PURSUIT | BUTTERMERE, LAKE DISTRICT | 27-29 MAY
The winner of the most stunning location for a festival award goes to Trail Pursuit in the Buttermere valley. This weekend adventure in the mountains combines trail running with live music, yoga, and skills workshops. And although the terrain in these parts is challenging, to say the least, there will be trails for all levels of runners from beginners to the ultra-fit. Basically, they don’t want the steep slopes to put you off, even if you’ve never run outside the city before. There’s camping and glamping on-site, plus adventure films, talks from inspirational athletes, and ice baths (though if you've ever tried swimming in Buttermere, you'll question whether that last one is really necessary).
EDEN ESCAPE FESTIVAL | PENRITH, CUMBRIA, 27-29 MAY
This “family-friendly weekend filled with adventure” is held at Mains Farm Camping and Caravan Park on the serene and green banks of the River Eden near Penrith. Start the day with yoga in the River View Tent, head to the Breakfast Cinema Club for films from Kendal Mountain Festival, take a dip in the river, or head out on an excursion into the hills. There’s also an 80s disco on Saturday night, plus workshops, kids' activities, and loads of tempting food and drink to be snaffled.
MANCHESTER HOLISTIC INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF YOGA | VICTORIA BATHS, MANCHESTER | 25-26 JUNE
Sink deep into your asanas in the tiled pool spaces of one of Manchester’s favourite buildings. This one-day event brings together yoga, art, music, food, and meditation. Learn about Ayurveda and mindfulness under the guidance of teachers from India and Manchester, and practise different forms of yoga including Ashtanga and Hatha.
SECRET GARDEN FESTIVAL | FORMBY, SOUTHPORT | 24-26 June
Starting with a fancy-dress sonic disco on the Friday night, this wellness weekend on a farm in Formby looks like a whole lot of fun by the sea. There are copious yoga-orientated activities to explore including crystal reiki yin with a live harp player, goddess meditation, and “witch wound healing” (surely worth the ticket price alone?) With three big marquees, you can choose between chilling, partying, or unleashing your inner child through playful activities such as laughter yoga and circus skills. With camping on-site, a holistic market, live music and performances, and food and drink stalls too, it ticks all the summer festival boxes and then some.
TRAIL RUNNING FESTIVAL | EDALE, PEAK DISTRICT | 12-15 AUGUST
A new addition to the running festival calendar, this gathering in the Peak District is from Focused Performance, a company with loads of experience in organising trail running holidays and weekends. Led by a UK athletics coach, you can expect runs for all levels plus yoga to stretch out those hamstrings, fireside talks, gong sound baths, live music, masterclasses, and food prepared by their chefs.
KENDAL MOUNTAIN FESTIVAL | Kendal, Cumbria | 17-20 November
Now in its fifth decade, Kendal Mountain Festival is known for its programme of films, speakers and events on adventure sports and the outdoors. If you enjoy soaking up the culture surrounding the great outdoors - the books, the art, the brands, the big-name adventurers - this is the weekend for you. This year’s line-up is yet to be announced but expect film premieres, inspiring speakers, family activities, the Kendal Mountain Literature Festival and more. Could be just the thing to lift a dull November weekend. Book accommodation now if you fancy staying overnight, it’s popular.
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Main image: Keswick Mountain Festival
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