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They say happiness is best shared - we reckon the same is true of walking and exploring in the great outdoors, and what better way to get together than at a mountain or walking festival?

keswick mountain festival

Each year, communities of hiking and mountain lovers across the country share their love of adventure with the aim of promoting the joys of getting outside and its associated health benefits, and mountain and walking festivals in the UK have definitely grown in both popularity and number in recent years. With a new wave of outward bound adventure groups and community outfits dedicating their time to organising local walking festivals, mountain film festivals, summer events and winter walks, there's no excuse not to head out to explore some of the UK's most spectacular outdoor spaces this year.

Some walking festivals follow famous pre-existing national trails or beautiful coastal routes, and most take place in some of the wildest, and often best protected, landscapes in the UK. And one of the great benefits of taking on a walk or a new activity at the festivals on our list is that they're led by highly trained leaders and guides, meaning that you're likely to gain new outdoor skills and knowledge of local areas along the way - whether you fancy hiking in the Yorkshire Dales or South Wales.

If you're keen to walk, explore or just rub shoulders with some similarly active and adventurous folk in 2020, we've rounded up Britain's very best mountain and walking festivals.


Kendal Mountain Festival

19th to 22nd November

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Kendal Mountain Festival is one of the most well-known adventure festivals in the world, let alone the UK, and has a prestigious heritage that dates back to 1980, when a group of six local mountaineers set up a small celebration of the British outdoor community in the pretty market town of Kendal in the heart of the Lake District. The festival's speaker sessions and film screenings host some of the world's best-known adventurers and mountaineers, but there's also a growing selection of more outward bound opportunities, from hikes in the local area to trail runs across some of the most impressive landscapes in the country.


Keswick Mountain Festival

15th to 17th May


Another festival based in the glorious Lake District, Keswick Mountain Festival is more of a traditional festival than Kendal, taking place in the countryside and offering camping, a great music lineup and a range of outdoor challenges all over one weekend. Trail runs, triathlons, open water swims and hiking challenges are bookable on the festival's website, and all take place in the stunning hills around the UK's four highest mountains - Scafell and Scafell Pike, Skiddaw and Helvellyn. Evening, day and weekend tickets are available, with a weekend ticket costing £75 with camping included.


Base Camp Festival

10th to 12th July

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Base Camp Festival is all about off-site adventure activities. This small, community-run festival, taking place in Wales this year, offers a diverse range of activities run by local guides, all organised by not-for-profit adventure organisation Explorers Connect. Unlike some festivals, all the adventure activities you might fancy, including coasteering, climbing, hiking, cycling and running, are included in the price of the ticket, and a relaxed atmosphere pervades, with a silent disco, acoustic music sessions, adventure speakers and storytelling keeping everyone occupied in the evenings. Tickets from £130.


Walk Scilly

1st to 10th April

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This week-long walking festival plays host to a number of organised walks and hikes around some of the most unspoilt parts of the magical Isles of Scilly, a subtropical archipelago just off the Cornish coast. Guided walks and themed walks are held during the week, with knowledgeable local experts seeking out hidden treasures to allow walkers to fully experience the wildlife, plant life and natural geography of this unique part of the world. To book walks and to find out more, head to the Visit Scilly website.



Isle of Wight Walking Festival

2nd to 17th May

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The Isle of Wight is one of the country's longest running and most established walking festivals, and a great place to start if you're booking your first. Unique routes are organised during two weeks of festivities, with local experts, guides and outdoor enthusiasts uncovering hidden gems within the landscape of this varied and diverse little island. Half of the Isle of Wight is recognised as an area of outstanding natural beauty, with 60-miles of dramatic heritage coastline and more than 500 miles of well-maintained and signposted footpaths. Walks are geared to suit all ages and abilities, and many of the walks are downloadable as PDFs on the festival's website if you're visiting outside of May.


Crickhowell Walking Festival

17th to 15th March

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The charming town of Crickhowell in Wales is the perfect starting point for exploring the pocket of wilderness that is the Brecon Beacons National Park. Nine days of guided walks, graded by difficulty, are bookable via the walking festival's website, and provided you follow the festival's recommendations on what to wear and pack for each hike, there should be guided walks suitable for all age ranges and abilities to take part in - ideal for picking the right hike if you're bringing kids. Walks are affordably priced from £6.50, and are led by expert local guides and leaders.


New Forest Walking Festival

12th October to 3rd November (2019 dates)

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Wildlife and walking lover? The New Forest is an area of southern Britain abundant in protected landscapes where a wide variety of wildlife thrive. This walking festival is perfect for those wanting to delve deeper into the history and heritage of this part of the country, and local experts are on hand on each of the walks to talk you through each location and what can be seen when walking through the forest. The walks take place at a variety of locations and timings, usually across October, so check the festival website for more information.


Gower Walking Festival

30th May to 7th June


This week-long festival is the perfect opportunity to explore the miles of excellent paths and walking trails of the glorious Gower peninsula, a jewel in Wales' coastal crown. Throughout the course of the festival, walks take place along the entirety of the area's Wales Coast Path national trail from Crofty to Mumbles - more than 50 miles - so there's an opportunity to join in guided walks at any point. Gower Walking may be a small, locally run festival, but it offers an increasingly diverse range of walks and adventures with varying degrees of difficulty. Walks are searchable and bookable on the festival website.


Moray Walking Festival

12th June to 21st June

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This midsummer walking festival covers a large area of unspoilt Scottish landscape in north-east Scotland, and was originally devised to help promote the Moray Way, a circular 100 mile path that opened in 2011. Since then, the festival has grown in leaps and bounds - last year there were more than sixty events spread over 10 days, from walking and hiking events and hill skills to bushcraft, wild swimming, wildlife watching and kayaking. The breadth of activities on offer at the Moray Walking Festival reflect the huge diversity and beauty of Scotland's landscapes - head to the festival to discover what makes this area so highly respected in the world of outdoor adventure.


Suffolk Walking Festival

9th May to 31st May

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This inclusive walking festival encourages people in and around Suffolk to get outside and enjoy time spent in the wild, with a number of walks organised during the month in May. Working closely with charities RSPB and OneLife Suffolk, who promote health-giving walks across the county, the festival caters for everyone from keen hikers to casual dog walkers, with many walks accessible by wheelchair users. Tickets go on sale in March and can be booked on the walking festival's website.


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