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In 2014, Cark-in-Cartmel will set the stage once more for the Holker Garden Festival, now in its 22nd phase, and growing – quite literally – lovelier by the year. One of the best annual events in Cumbria’s calendar, it’ll transform the town into a haven for horticulture from Friday 30th May to Sunday 1st June, and see thousands of green-fingered visitors flock to its show-stopping displays (or marquees, if the clouds make an appearance…). It’ll offer the very best in botanical advice, as well as a roster of finger-licking local foods, crafts and arts, performance and good ol’ fashioned, family oriented fun.
Simply read on for our guide to this verdant event – when the sun is shining and the merging scents of flowers are on the warm breeze, it’s sure to be one of Cumbria’s most colourful. And after, simply head for the festival's website to book your place at the show.
Holker Garden Festival: everything you need to know
Holker Garden Festival: the venue
Set in the grounds of Holker Hall, Cark-in-Cartmel, the event is hosted by Lord and Lady Cavendish. Given that Downton Abbey is now just Sunday night pleasure, you don’t need a formal introduction to attend – but the stately home and acres of parkland are still as grand as ever. The tenant farmers are, needless to say, also different to their forebears of 1900… but their artisanal honeys, cheeses and meats have been perfected over the centuries. Get your chops around Saltmarsh Lamb or Shorthorn Beef. Seriously. And, to burn off the calories, you’ll have 25 acres of Holker’s award-winning gardens to explore – access is included within the price of your ticket. You can visit the Hall itself for £3.50.
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Holker Garden Festival: gardens
Avid gardeners of all kinds come to Holker Garden Festival: designers; landscapers; experts; businesses. There will be over 200 exhibitors this year: in the Horticultural Marquee, you can expect to find anything from carnivorous plants to exotic orchids and bonsai trees; outside, some of the area’s top nurseries will be selling their wares; elsewhere, you can enjoy the majesty of the show gardens and outdoor spaces – all examples of botanical brilliance. Each day sees experts in the Garden Theatre, but the 30th will see special guest Christine Walkden – gardening expert for BBC’s The One Show – doling out tips and tricks. There’ll be a Q&A session, as well as a book signing afterwards.
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Holker Garden Festival: yum in the sun
Foodies, be prepared to sample some of the finest produce our United Kingdom has to offer. At the pop-up Cartmel Village, you’ll find all sorts of local, delectable treats awaiting your approval: sticky toffee pudding; cheese; beer. And as for snacking on the go, everyone knows a roll stuffed to capacity with spit-roasted hog does the trick (though afternoon tea with scones, strawberries and oh-so-indulgent lashings of cream will make you look just as silly when you get it all over your face). The North West’s spoils are well represented here, both in the food courts and the Festival Restaurant.
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Holker Garden Festival: family fun
The best bit about taking little ones to Holker Garden Festival? Under-16s don’t have to pay a penny. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to appeal to them; far from it. Kids be spoilt for choice when it comes to fun-filled activities. They can climb the 50-foot Helter Skelter in the centre of the festival, watch sheepdogs do their thing, watch terriers race (who knew that was a thing?), pet Shire horses Ben and Troy, or eye up vintage tractors. Flower-themed stilt-walkers will be parading through the area, and there are a host of shows for families: this year sees Gerard Naprous and the Devil’s Horsemen Stunt Riders return once again. After, head to the Tipi Village for some crafty activities.
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Holker Garden Festival: tickets
An all-day ticket for Friday will set you back just £11.30, while a Saturday or Sunday ticket will cost £11.80 – either way, the reasonable ticket price leaves you all the more pennies to spend on goods at the show (my money’s on the home-made pastries and cakes). You can, when booking tickets, choose to book a two-course lunch in the official Festival Restaurant (£15 pp), or at a slightly cheaper price, indulge in afternoon tea (£12.50 pp). Strangely, it’s pricier if you’re not sure which day you’ll visit the festival – so, if you’d like to save yourself a bob or so, just plan your trip in advance. The festival is open each day from 10am - 5.30pm.
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All images © Holker Estate
Holker Garden Festival 2014 Accommodation
Smithy House dates back to the 1700s and has retained much of its traditional charm and character. It is set in the old part of Stainton on the village green.
Smithy House has its own mature gardens and is ideal for those looking for a retreat ...
Brantfield House is a large Victorian house set in mature gardens in a quiet location overlooking the village of Bowness and Lake Windermere. The apartment is on the first floor at the front of the house, with beautifully proportioned rooms offeri...
An attractive terraced character cottage in the heart of this popular village, steeped in traditional features such as original beams, slate floor and exposed stone walls yet infused with stylish interior design, fabulous fabrics and luxurious fur...
Orton Hall is a magnificent 17th Century Jacobean mansion situated in the delightful village of Orton, near Penrith in Cumbria. Charles Stuart self catering first floor apartment is located within a wing of Orton Hall and has all the luxury, comfo...
Woodside is a romantic historic,LUXURY cottage, ideal for couples and families.It was a lodging house for the young mill workers from the Stott Park Bobbin Mill (as featured on BBC 1's Britain's Hidden Heritage) and today the mill is owned by E...
An apartment built of traditional Lake District stone and slate with all the modern comforts of home. Situated within a conservation area in the heart of Grasmere village next to the river and within yards of the churchyard where Wordsworth is bur...
Curlew is a charming and tranquil lodge with magnificent views of open countryside and the fells beyond.
Located on the edge of the Howgill Fells and nestled between the Lake District National Park & Yorkshire Dales National Park, Artlegarth Lodge...
Bush Cottage is a cosy 2 bedroom cottage, located in the charming peaceful village of Tallentire, on the North Western edge of the Lake District National Park, and just 3 miles from the bustling market town of Cockermouth.
It is a traditional ter...
Situated in an elevated setting overhanging picturesque Ambleside, yet only a minute's stroll from the centre, Boden Howe provides superb luxury accommodation for 4 people and boasts unrivalled views. This traditional Lakeland house comprises of ...
A warm welcome awaits at this charming cottage where you can be guaranteed a comfortable base from which to explore the delights of the Lake District. Ideally located in a conservation area in 'Old Ambleside' the cottage is very popular with retu...