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The annual Cumberland Show, held by the Cumberland Agricultural Society, isn’t just some new-fangled event for lovers of the country; it’s been running for over 175 years. Taking place each year on a (usually) fine summer’s day, 2014 will see it held on June 14th, turning Carlisle Racecourse into a pop-up festival where agriculture, farming, food, tradition and fun are fused.
It’s often lauded as one of best family days out in Cumbria, and knowing everything that’s planned for this year, it’s little wonder: the Shetland pony Grand National; terrier racing; wresting; a zipwire; Titan the Robot (er, yeah). Whether you’re travelling for the event or just happen to be holidaying in Cumbria, read on for our definitive guide to the Cumberland Show. And afterwards, simply pop over to the event’s website to book your tickets in advance. Kids go free!
The Cumberland Show 2014: everything you need to know
The Cumberland Show: the venue
Once held at Bitts Park, near Carlisle Castle, the Cumberland Show had to move up the River Eden in 1991 to Rickerby Park – simply to accommodate its size – before transferring to Carlisle Racecourse in 2010. Racing in the area actually dates back to the 16th century, when horses would be awarded silver bells (now the oldest trophies in the UK and held in the Guildhall Museum, Carlisle). Just a short bus ride away from the city centre, you can easily explore the history of Carlisle before or after the event. There’s Birdoswald Roman Fort just 16 miles away, where some the greatest examples of turret stations along Hadrian’s Wall can be found.
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The Cumberland Show: competitions
The Shetland Pony Grand National is one of the finest events at the Cumberland Show; needless to say it’s much like The Grand National, only smaller! Jockeys are aged between 9 - 13, there are 12 mini Aintree fences, and all the pomp and parading of the event we know is present. If you like your races even smaller, there are always the terriers to watch. Away from the course, there’ll be Cumberland wrestling matches, and – of course – hundreds of creatures being judged around the show. Enormous horses, mighty beef bulls, preened poultry and – vintage cars? Yep, it doesn’t stop at the farmyard. When you’re not admiring the different breeds, grab a drink and enjoy the stilt-walkers, jugglers, and street theatre from the grandstand.
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The Cumberland Show: events
Take little ones to the Model Farm, where they can learn about shearing sheep, milking cows and even see a chick hatching from the egg. There are several species and breeds to see here, including goats, pigs and alpacas (not quite your standard farm animal…) to name a few. Afterwards, check out the ferrets and hounds at the Countryside Area, before letting little ones try the zip wire or climbing wall. There are diggers to operate, the Langholm Pipe Band to enjoy – oh, and keep your eye out for Titan the Robot. He may not make it onto the front of Country Living, but come on – he’s performed on stage with Rihanna...
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The Cumberland Show: refreshments
Whatever you fancy munching on while watching the Dog Show, you’ll find it here. Yorkshire Dales Ice Cream is, of course, a big winner with all, as are local steaks and sausages at the Fellside Food Court, and local burgers and roast beef-filled baguettes at the Solway Food Court. There’s even a Grill and BBQ at the entrance to lure you in! There’ll be a few local tipples to wash it all down with, and you’ll go home with more than just a full stomach: inside the Savour Cumbria Food Hall you’ll find cookery demonstrations, a young farmers’ cookery competition, and a number of stalls selling (and letting you sample – win!) the very best in local produce.
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The Cumberland Show: tickets
An adult ticket will set you back just £11 if you book in advance, hiking up slightly to £14 on the door. Children under 16 are thankfully free to enter, and you’ll all be shuttled to and from the show by the free bus service running every 20 minutes from Carlisle City Centre, The Crescent. The family pet (well, dog!) is also welcome along, provided you clean up afterwards and keep him or her on a leash.
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All images © Grossick Photography
Accommodation for the Cumberland Show 2014
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