At a stroke: Windermere's Great North Swim / AFP


The skies above Windermere will light up this Thursday when Cumbria hosts one of the four opening events of the London 2012 Festival (0845 267 2012;, the cultural celebration of the Olympic and Paralympic Games that runs till 9 September. A French group, Les Commandos Percu, will take to the shores of Windermere for On the Night Shift, a free open-air production mixing music and pyrotechnics, which will also mark the arrival of the Olympic torch in the county.

The performance will also open Lakes Alive (01539 720252;, a programme of arts events taking place across Cumbria throughout the summer, mainly free of charge. Among the fun will be Masquepony, the UK's first street arts festival with camping laid on, taking place in Cartmel on 17-19 August.

Next weekend, 22-24 June, the spotlight will fall on Windermere again when it hosts the Great North Swim (, the UK's biggest outdoor swimming event, which attracts elite athletes and charity fundraisers to complete a choice of three distances – half-mile, one mile and two miles.

The Langdale Gala ( is due to take place once again on 1 July on Walthwaite Meadow at Chapel Stile. The traditional Cumbrian event will include fell races, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, and tug of war.

Children can follow a creative treasure trail across the local landscape at a new exhibition at William Wordsworth's former home, Dove Cottage in Grasmere (01539 435544;; £7.50). It is called "Pen, Paint and Pixels, Touring the English Lakes Across 250 Years". Artistic freeze frames of the same scenes have captured moments in time from 1769 to the present day. Families can go in search of the same views with the help of Ordnance Survey map co-ordinates for a spot of art, geography and map reading rolled into one.

Another way to get little legs out and about is to follow one of a new series of self-guided story walks, Tale Trails (07939 074197;; £4.95). The walks, which range from one mile to six, feature fun characters inspired by the myths and legends of Cumbria. A colourful illustrated and laminated map points the way, detailing sights and wildlife to spot.

A fleet of 35 electric bikes is now available for hire in the Lake District National Park ( There are 12 places where the bikes can be picked up around the central Lakes and 33 free charging points. The bikes are supplied with mapped routes. Hire costs from £15 per person for a half day.

For more information visit