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christmas in the cotswolds

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Christmas in the Cotswolds: Ultimate Guide

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The most wonderful time of the year is coming. However you choose to spend Christmas, getting into the festive spirit for the Christmas season is just magical. From festive shopping to sipping mulled wine in cosy pubs, there is simply nothing better.

With plenty of Christmas events and fun for all the family, you’ve got to see the magical winter wonderland that is Christmas in the Cotswolds.

christmas in the cotswolds christmas markets festive season

Why visit the Cotswolds at Christmas?

There are pretty villages filled with twinkling lights, ice skating, cosy fires, the smell of mince pies and maybe even a little bit of snow, Christmas is the perfect time to visit the Cotswolds.

Whether you’re planning a Christmas break in the Cotswolds this year or perhaps you live locally and want to get into the festive spirit, here are 13 great things to do at Christmas in the Cotswolds in 2023. From light trays and carol singers to Christmas markets where you can enjoy the warm, festive atmosphere and pick up the most unique gifts from independent shops let’s get stuck in.

Christmas in the Cotswolds: The best things to do this festive season

christmas markets cotswolds christmas in the cotswolds

1. Visit the Christmas Market at Blenheim Palace

17 November – 17 December 2023

Step into a captivating winter wonderland at Blenheim Palace and embrace the essence of the holiday season. Let the timeless tale of Sleeping Beauty enchant you within the palace walls, or wander through an enchanting trail of lights set across 150 acres of majestic gardens. In search of the ultimate stocking stuffer? The Great Court beckons with over 70 stalls of designer and artisanal wares, offering the perfect opportunity to find that exceptional gift as you revel in the festive atmosphere.

2. Cirencester Christmas Market

2 – 3 December 2023

On the 2nd and 3rd of December, join in the festivities for a heartwarming chorus of live carols beneath the twinkling Christmas tree in Cirencester’s market square, complemented by a glass of the finest local cider. And for those on the hunt for that special Christmas present, Cirencester extends its festive charm with additional Christmas Gift Markets on the 10th, 17th, and from the 19th to the 21st of December.

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3. Explore the Enchanted Light Trail at Cotswold Farm Park

Friday to Sunday throughout November and December 2023 – Plus 20th – 23rd and 28th – 31st December (excluding Christmas eve)

Experience the enchantment of the holidays with your loved ones at Cotswold Farm Park. Delight in the heartwarming activity of feeding animals in their cosy stables, savour the sweetness of toasted marshmallows paired with warming hot chocolate beside a crackling fire, and be captivated by the twinkling lights of the Enchanted Forest.

Early birds who book before October’s close typically enjoy a festive 20% discount on their admission. Stay tuned for the announcement of the 2023 dates, at which point we’ll refresh this information.

4. Spectacle of Light, Sudeley Castle

24 November – 30 December

The Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle stands out as a renowned holiday highlight in the Cotswolds. This dazzling event promises a magical experience for everyone, whether you’re embarking on a charming family adventure or seeking a whimsical evening for a couple’s retreat. Let the allure of the Spectacle of Light ignite your wonder and imagination.

5. Get out for a wintery walk

If there is one thing we all enjoy at Christmas, it has to be the food. Whether you’ve eaten too many pigs in blankets at lunch or snacked on more samples at the Christmas market than you should’ve done, a magical walk in the Cotswold countryside will always put it right.

Leckhampton Hill just south of Cheltenham has the most beautiful views from the top and includes a loop around its rare limestone grassland. Or take a long winter walk by following the 5.4-mile circular route from Bourton-on-the-Water along the Rivers Windrush and Eye to Upper and Lower Slaughter.

Or, why not follow the start of the Cotswold Way? From Chipping Campden, the 4.1-mile circular walk to the viewpoint at Dover’s Hill, where you can see as far as the Black Mountains in Wales on a clear day.

6. Take to the hills for some sledging

If you’re lucky enough to see some snow this Christmas in the Cotswolds, get yourself wrapped up warm, grab your sledge or baking tray if you need to improvise and enjoy a downhill ride.

Some of the best places for sledging in the Cotswolds include:

  • Cleeve
  • Crickley
  • Leckhampton Hills near Cheltenham
  • Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons
  • Broadway Tower
  • Cirencester Amphitheatre.

7. Children’s Christmas Trail at Batsford

1 December – 5 January 2023

An ideal outing for family fun, meander through Batsford Arboretum on a quest to spot festive characters. Successful little seekers are rewarded with a prize to cherish at home! Keep an eye on this page for the 2023 dates update, coming soon.

8. Christmas at Cogges Manor Farm

Dates TBC

Meet Santa Claus in person at Cogges Manor Farm, where he’ll be stopping by from the North Pole for a weekend brimming with family-oriented festivities. Plus, take part in their workshop to master the art of crafting the quintessential Christmas wreath for your table arrangement.

9. Spend a night at the panto

The festive season is incomplete without the vibrant spectacle of a pantomime. It’s a beloved family ritual, replete with songs, dance, and the joy of audience involvement. This holiday, immerse yourselves in the whimsy of ‘Mother Goose’ at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham from November 24, 2023, to January 7, 2024, or enjoy the timeless story of ‘Cinderella’ at the Chipping Norton Theatre, running from November 15, 2023, to January 14, 2024.

There’s also Treasure Island at the Barn Theatre in Cirencester running from November 20th 2023 to January 6th 2024. Or you can catch Aladdin at the Stratford Playhouse (December 15th to 31st December 2023), Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at The Subscription Rooms in Stroud (December 20th to January 6th 2024), Beauty and the Beast at Tewkesbury’s Rose Theatre (December 2nd 2023 to January 6th 2024).

10. Get your skates on!

Fancy getting your skate on? Cheltenham Ice Rink returns to the Imperial Gardens for 2023! Open from the 17th of November 2023 to the 1st January 2024, get down there and enjoy some hot drinks and delicious treats available at the Imperial Gardens bar.

You can also try your hand at skating at the Bath on Ice in Victoria Park from the 17th of November 2023 to the 3rd of January 2024, or visit Cotswold Water Park’s Gateway Ice Rink from the 24th of November to 3rd January 2024.

11. Sing along to Christmas carols

Christmas isn’t right without carol singers! Listen or join in across various Cotswolds churches. Carol concerts take place in the Market Place in Northleach (date TBC) and at weekends in the Dyrham Park estate church.

cotswolds wreath making

12. Make your own Christmas wreath

Love getting creative and doing something everyone can get involved? There are a variety of wreath making classes across the Cotswolds this year! Take a peek at our what’s on page for more.

13. Get the family together for a festive pub lunch

There are those who will spend Christmas in the kitchen, baking cookies, cooking turkey and all the trimmings, then falling asleep on the sofa in their apron whilst watching the Eastenders Christmas special.

But, then we have those who are the opposite of this. Stay calm, there is no need to be afraid because Christmas in the Cotswolds is the best place to be, the hotels, pubs and restaurants around put on the most delicious Christmas lunch.

Here are some just to give you an idea, but we could go on all day:

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Ready to get into the festive spirit?

And there we have it! Christmas in the Cotswolds really is an experience in itself, with so many Christmas events, Christmas crafts, plenty of Christmas music and not forgetting… Mulled wine!

We can’t wait to welcome you this festive season.

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