THE organisers of a hugely successful South Lakes festival are appealing for home owners to throw open their doors to visitors this November.

The Kendal Mountain Film Festival consistently sees double-digit growth in its audience figures, year-on-year, and record numbers are expected in 2019.

But the continued rise in numbers has attendees scratching their heads about where to stay, as traditionally all of the hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation is booked up to the rafters.

Clive Allen, director of the festival, said: "I have a neighbour here who owns a flat in Kendal that he rents out and he says that people are asking two years ahead."

With the town's accommodation completely full, visitors often have to look elsewhere for a place to stay, meaning that Kendal loses out.

Now organisers have come up with a solution to the problem and are seeking the help of homeowners to ease the burden on the town's hotels.

Zoe Wilkinson, hospitality manager for the festival, said: "If you track availability, you can see that options get booked up really fast.

"There's no reason why local homeowners can't take advantage of this by offering spare accommodation through home rental booking sites such as Airbnb - even if it's just for the period of the festival."

Councillor Alvin Finch, the mayor of Kendal, supported the idea. "I would strongly encourage people to open up. We need as many people coming to this festival as we can," he said.

"They are going to end up staying on the outskirts further away and we could do with them staying in the town, people bringing money into the town, making the festival more popular."

More than 20,000 tickets were sold last year for the event, which organisers say brings in £3 million to the local economy during a traditionally quiet period.

However, asked if the ever-increasing size of the festival might be a concern, Mr Allen said: "We are quite tight on space on the ground sometimes but we have got some plans for next year that will alleviate that as well."

On the call for homeowners to open their doors, Brian Harrison, director and vice-chair of Kendal BID, said: "We [at BID] support the proposition. It's a fact that at the very popular festival there isn't enough hotel accommodation in Kendal, and Airbnb would be a good way to resolve that."

He added: "The festival is a world leader. The organising committee that put it all together do an absolutely first-class job and Kendal should be really proud of it.

Despite the increased competition that it would pose to her business, Jan Nicholson, who runs the Kendal Hostel with her daughter Kristina, would welcome people opening their doors to new festival-goers.

She said: "I personally embrace Airbnb and I personally will help people to do it."

She added: "I think competition is good in Kendal."

Indeed, Jan even has plans to run a day course, for a fee, ahead of the festival, to provide guidance on how to run an Airbnb.

Rachel Tyson, head of marketing and sales at Cumbria Tourism, said: "Cumbria's stunning landscape attracts visitors from across the UK and internationally, who come to discover and connect with the natural environment; whether this be through high-impact adrenaline activities or simple countryside walks.

"Our official tourism website offers a wide range of hotels, B&Bs, guest houses, campsites and self-catering cottages in South Lakes and across the county.

"We know from our research that cultural events such as Kendal Mountain Festival provide strong motivation for return visits and longer stays, boosting the local economy and showcasing the county as a year-round destination."

Visit for more information about the festival, and call Jan Nicholson on 07714295485 for more information about Airbnb.