Cumbria is bursting with performances to enjoy this season with more dance, music, theatre and cinema than you can shake a stick at.

From a Japanese film festival to a new contemporary music and literature festival packed with gigs, to entertaining family musical theatre to thought provoking dance, the rural region has a thriving creative scene to rival any metropolis, you just need to know where to look.

Starting with the National Theatre Connections festival which takes place at Theatre by the Lake from March 17-19.

It will showcase exciting work by the next generation of actors and producers with local youth theatre companies including local Kendal’s Brewery Youth Theatre, Theatre Royal Youth (Workington) alongside TBTL’s own Young Company.

Don’t miss the UK’s largest festival of Japanese Cinema on the theme which runs at the Brewery Arts Centre in Kendal until March 27.

This year the film festival explores the idea of ‘Happiness’ which has long been a staple theme in Japanese cinema. The Brewery’s Film Programmer Chris Ashton has selected a variety of films from the festival that will be shown in the Brewery’s intimate Warehouse venue.

These include ‘A Banana? At This Time of Night’ (March 6) about an eccentric character with muscular dystrophy who falls in love, a tale of gambling addiction and family loyalties in ‘Sea of Revival’ (Marc 13), for all WWE and NXT fans out there one is a must ‘My Dad is a Heel Wrestler’ (March 20) when nine year old Shota discovers his Dad is actually the despicable heel wrestler Cockroach (Gokiburi) Mask, then something completely different to end the season ‘Ride Your Wave’ (March 27) is a moving anime about a surf-loving college student called Hinako.

Looking for a contemporary music, literature and arts fix? Hop on board the poetry bus for live performance by acclaimed Poets Kim Moore and Clare Shaw. They will perform their own contemporary work and also share Wordsworth’s words with passengers as they journey on the on the 555 and 599 routes on March 19.

The following week, the Aerial festival (26-29 March) launches.

Taking place in and around Ambleside the programme already has a sold-out show! Headliners include Kate Tempest (sold out), Hayden Thorpe (Wild Beasts) and the only show outside London for The Barbican’s ‘The Lark Ascending’ featuring Vashti Bunyan.

Literary website Caught By The River will host an afternoon aboard a classic steamer on Windermere, featuring authors Helen Mort, Amy Liptrot, Jack Cooper and Roy Wilkinson. There will be late night sessions in ’Sporties’ at The Ambleside Tavern with BUMS (Barrow Underground Music Society), Brooklyn born but Barrow-based Niko and a vinyl only DJ set from legendary Cumbrian producer Aim and the Kendal-based Sierre, acclaimed by Redbull Music as one of Britain’s most promising new producers. There will also be a multi-sensory installation and performance by Lone Taxidermist at the Ambleside Tavern.

For innovative theatre check out Night of the Living Dead ™ - Remix by imitating the dog on the 3-4 March Brewery Arts Centre. Expect a unique shot-for-shot stage recreation of George A. Romero’s classic 1968 zombie movie for today’s theatre audiences.

The wonderful musical production of Malory Towers opens at Theatre by the Lake on 27 March. Nostalgic, naughty and perfect for now, it is musical of high jinks, high drama and high spirits for the family to enjoy.

For more ideas on arts and cultural things to see, do and hear in the Lake District go to