Ulverston is a comparatively large civil parish. It is bounded in the east by the Leven estuary, Crake, Coniston Water and Yewdale Beck. To the west the boundary follows a chain of hills, and beyond that lie the towns of Kirkby-in-Furness and Askam and Ireleth. To the south is relatively low land, which rises quickly. In the north are hills such as Coniston Old Man. The settlements of the parish are mainly concentrated in the eastern part.
The area around Ulverston has been inhabited since the Bronze age and Ulverston itself is was recorded in the Domesday book in 1066 as Ulvrestun which is an old Norse name.
The Sir John Barrow Monument, known in the town as hoad monument after the hill on which it rests, is the most visible landmark in Ulverston and worthy of the steep walk up the hill to see it. The views from the top extend right across Morecambe Bay to as far as Blackpool Tower on a clear day.
It was built in 1850 as a memorial to Sir John Barrow who was Second Secretary to the Admiralty and a great promoter of Arctic voyages of discovery and it is 100 ft high. The monument is based on the Eddystone Lighthouse. There is a slightly scary spiral staircase leading up to the lantern chamber.
Ulverston is twinned with the town of Albert in France. The two towns regularly meet to play football at Easter with the Cyril Barker Shield being contested every year. The match’s location is alternated between Ulverston and Albert. In July 2016 Ulverston, birthplace of film comedian Stan Laurel, was officially twinned with Harlem, Georgia, USA the birthplace of Laurel’s screen partner Oliver Hardy.
Ulverston calls itself a ‘festival town’ in reference to the many and varied festivals which take place in Ulverston over the course of the year. The most renowned of these is the Lantern Festival, which involves hundreds of local residents creating lanterns out of willow and tissue paper and parading them throughout the town in winding rivers of light. The annual event culminates in a lively display of theatrical performance and fireworks in Ford Park, and was organised entirely by the community themselves for the first time in 2008.
Other popular festivals include:
- Flag Festival
- Dickensian Festival
- Beer Festival
- Charter Festival (including the Lantern Festival)
- International Music Festival
- Furness Tradition
- Comedy Festival