HUNDREDS of people gathered last night for the opening of this year’s Kendal Mountain Festival.

The town’s Stricklandgate was closed for Thursday evening’s grand ceremony with a giant outdoor screen taking centre stage outside the town hall.

Sir Chris Bonington officially opened proceedings.

The noble knight of the climbing fraternity said KMF was one of the biggest and best festivals in the world and urged everyone to “give it a try.”

He added: “It is like a tribal gathering of mountaineers all mixing and rubbing shoulders with each other.”

The 2012 launch, which showed an awesome 60-minute selection of short films, paved the way for the prestigious four-day festival, which features 70 films in competition, art, literature, the legendary Rab Party, the Mountain Equipment Pub Quiz, plus the five-star Boardman Tasker literary prize, which this year celebrates its 30th anniversary.

The momentous KMF event - which this year reaches fresh peaks with more emphasis on ‘athletic endeavour’ - runs mainly at the Brewery Arts Centre and the Dojo on Parkside Road, where tomorrow (Saturday, November 17) Alistair and Jonathan Brownlee will start the adidas Terrex five-mile trail run at 11am. Race entry open to all at

Among the high altitude speakers on the festival bill will be Fred Beckey, Ines Papert, Liv Sansoz, Paul Rose, Robert Jasper, Leo Houlding, Tom Randall, Pete Whittaker, and outdoor adventurer Karen Darke, who won a silver medal in the Paralympics handcycling, will talk about her amazing climbing, skiing and cycling achievements and her whole Olympic experience at the Brewery tomorrow (Saturday, 6pm).