A cultural hub for much of the northern Lake District, Carlisle has plenty going on. Be it intimate gigs, laugh-out-loud comedy, thought-provoking theatre or some fiercely contested football matches, there’s something for everyone in one of England’s most northern cities.
Entertainment in Carlisle
The city might not be able to boast big international names, but it does do local acts, breaking bands and intimate gigs like few other cities.
Welcoming nearly a million customers each year on the bank of the River Eden, The Sands Centre is one of the north’s leading entertainment hubs, with a wide spectrum of guests booked in. Spanning indie, pop, acoustic acts, full orchestras, folk music and more, with names like Jake Bugg, The Happy Mondays and Kate Rusby, and joined by Beatles, Dire Straits and Elvis tribute acts. With events most weekends, the centre is booked up nearly a year in advance, so it’s easy to plan ahead and get your tickets well ahead of your visit. We’re perfectly placed for all the action, with our Carlisle Central hotel less than a mile away from the venue.
With ace acoustics, an adventurous booking policy and nearly 20 years of history behind it, The Brickyard is one of the best-loved music venues in Carlisle. Housed in a 100-year-old church, the 320-capacity venue has welcomed hundreds of up-and-coming bands since opening in 2002, while it also doubles up as a nightclub with DJs like drum and bass icon Andy C and New Order’s Peter Hook having taken to the decks. Hugely popular, The Brickyard book their programme up to a year in advance, so check their website for the latest listings.
If you prefer your music to be a few decades older, then head to The Source off Nelson Street, Carlisle’s undisputed home of jazz and blues. With an excellent sound system, atmospheric lighting and an intimate atmosphere, The Source rightly pride themselves on their live music. And it’s not just jazz and blues that you’ll be able to hear, with regular indie tribute acts slotted into the schedule. At just over a mile away, at our Carlisle Central hotel, we’re in the right place to let you get your live music kicks.
So named as until 2013 it was a fully functioning part of the emergency services, the Old Fire Station Arts Centre is the new kid on the block. It has been renovated in some style to create four main spaces, including a highly recommended café and bar, a main auditorium for live music, comedy and theatre and exhibition spaces. The venue has a broad musical remit – everything from punk, ska, pop, rock, country music, Latin, jazz and RnB is catered for, with largely original acts booked rather than tribute bands. Again situated just a mile from our Carlisle Central hotel, the Old Fire Station Arts Centre is a great addition to Carlisle’s already-bustling music scene.
The Sands Centre
Old Fire Station
The Lake District has a reputation for theatrical flair – largely due to the stunning landscapes and their settings in films and TV shows. And that flair is reproduced in Carlisle, where four venues all bring something different to the theatre scene. From amateur productions to all-singing-and-dancing West End musicals, Carlisle does it all. We’ve rounded up our pick of Carlisle theatre in our dedicated page.
There’s no dedicated comedy club in Carlisle, but there are plenty of venues that put on monthly comedy throwdowns, as well as hosting bigger touring comics.
The Venue host their monthly Comedy Club with a trio of guest comics invited down to tickle your funny bone. As the name indicates, it’s a multi-purpose space that also hosts club nights, cabaret acts, wrestling, live music and touring comics along with its regular comedy night. One of the largest spaces in Carlisle, The Venue can host anywhere from 60 to 900 people, and has several on-site bars to keep you lubricated throughout the show.
Alternatively, the Old Fire Station Arts Centre in Peter Street is another Carlisle venue that frequently hosts comics on the rise, with Jimeoin, John Robins, Iain Stirling and the Chef Show all booked in the last year. With a variety of spaces available to suit each performance, the centre can adapt to each show, creating the right atmosphere and capacity. Like a lot of other Carlisle venues, they book far in advance, sometimes working a year ahead, giving you plenty of time to book your tickets.
Home to Carlisle United since 1909, it’s almost a miracle that Brunton Park is still standing – the grandstand burned down in the 50s, while the stadium was flooded in 2005 and 2015. Despite those trials and tribulations, the ground is still serving the team well. With a capacity of 17,000, it’s a well-equipped ground that has witnessed several league titles and two cup victories during its time.
The team are in a slump compared to their peak from the late 60s until the mid-1980s and currently play in the fourth tier of the English league, but they did win the Football League Trophy in 1997 and 2011. Having suffered relegation to the non-league Conference in 2005, the team are undergoing something of a resurgence, with increased support and made it to the promotion play-offs in 2016 only to get beaten in the semi-final.