Forge Festival

With Young People

Forge Festival is The Knotted Project’s most exciting and ambitious project to date. This annual theatre festival, now in it's 3rd year, is co-designed with young people empowers creative young people across Cumbria to tell their story and make a statement through original performances that they co-create with professional artists from The Knotted Project.

A Creative Generation, Forge Festival

What’s to come in 24/25?

After two extremely successful Forge Festivals in 2022 and 2023, we are thrilled to have secured public funding from The National Lottery through Arts Council England for the next two years of Forge Festival. 

Forge Festival, A Creative Generation’ is a unique and inspiring programme of creative activity engaging schools, communities, and early career artists in Cumbria. Over 2 years, we aim to nurture a creative generation of young people, ready to have their voices heard and create change through the power of theatre. 

Each year of activity will result in an ambitious young person-led festival at Abbot Hall, Kendal. In 2024, young people will co-create with professional artists to develop original performances expressing their authentic views on our environment and climate change, igniting urgent dialogue within their community.

Over the 2 year project, we will develop local talent by commissioning Early Career Artists to create original performance pieces to be toured to rural venues across Cumbria, expediting their journey to a successful creative career.


Forge Festival 2024 will take place on Saturday 4th May at Abbot Hall Gallery and will include performances from Barrow Young Company, Brewery Youth Theatre and Young Carers from Carer Support South Lakes.

Forge Festival is supported using public funding by The National Lottery through Arts Council England. It is also supported by exceptional local partners including Lakeland Arts, Brewery Arts, Barrow Full, Rosehill Theatre, North Yorkshire Council, Wave Forward and Centre for Social Futures at Lancaster University.


Programme Saturday 4th May 2024

“I felt ownership over it, I could see that my ideas contributed to it. Our ideas have been heard, taken into the planning process and actually used. This was our festival that we put together!”
Youth Advisory Board Participant 2022

Forge Festival 2022/23

What has happened so far?

Forge Festival 22/23 clearly demonstrated the talent, dedication & creative ambition that exists within Cumbria whilst raising the volume on young voices in our community. Both years culminated in an extremely successful & unique young person-led festival at the acclaimed Windermere Jetty Museum.

Over 2 years, seven Performance Companies created original live performance pieces alongside professional lead artists, which were performed in outdoor and unusual spaces across the museum, specialising in an art form such as Dance, Spoken Word, Music and Theatre. 

Five Early Career Artists received a specialist package of support to develop their creative practice, plus a £1,000 commission to create a unique live performance piece for Forge Festival in 2023.

Ten Youth Advisory Board members over 2 years co-produced the festivals, taking the lead on festival marketing, programming, producing, access & inclusion, ensuring each festival was young person led.

Forge Festival 22 & 23 successfully nurtured and established a strong network of young creatives across Cumbria, preparing young people for future creative careers. 

Forge Festival 22/23 was supported using public funding by The National Lottery through Arts Council England. It was also supported by exceptional local partners including Lakeland Arts, Theatre by the Lake, Great Place Lakes and Dales, Carers Support South Lakes, Wave Forward, Institute for Social Futures, Kendal College and Queen Katherine school.

Have a watch of these snippets from our Forge Festival 22/23 documentaries and creative films: Created by Nick Farrimond.

“I thoroughly enjoyed Forge Festival. The performances were polished, and the pieces had clearly been devised with passion. It was a great way to give young people a voice”
Forge Festival Audience Member

Our 4 Early Career Artists from 2024. Kyra Scott, Yarrow Spillane, Matt Sowerby and Sophie Thomas.

All Forge Festival Photography by Owen Peters