October 17, 2023
Festive Things to Do this Christmas in the Cotswolds
The Cotswolds is a beautiful place to visit all year round. But during the festive season, its honey-coloured villages capture the magic of Christmas, with twinkling lights, winter markets and even a dusting of snow if you’re lucky.
From wintery walks and sledging to laughter-filled cosy pubs, Christmas markets and events, the Cotswolds really is a winter wonderland.
Ready to get into the festive spirit? Here’s our guide to things to do this Christmas in the Cotswolds.
1. Visit the Christmas Markets
Christmas markets mark the beginning of the festive season, popping up from as early as mid-November.
They’re great for picking up little gifts or for simply wandering around and admiring the stalls with a cup of mulled wine in hand.
Bath Christmas Market: 23th November – 10th December (Bathchristmasmarket.co.uk)
Moreton-in-Marsh Christmas lights switch on and market: 25th November
Tetbury Christmas Fair & Market: 2nd December (Tetbury.gov.uk)
Chipping Campden Christmas Market: 2nd December (Campdenmarket.co.uk)
Winchcombe Christmas Festival: 8th and 9th December (Winchcombe.co.uk)
Cheltenham Christmas Market: 14th December – 23rd December (Cheltenhamchristmasmarket.co.uk)
2. Follow the Illuminated Light Trail at Blenheim Palace
The Illuminated Light Trail at Blenheim Palace is a must-see. Follow the twinkling lights through the gardens, and discover glowing tunnels and mesmerising reflections in the enchanting lake.
Once you’re done, warm up with a hot chocolate and a mince pie in the Christmas market.
Dates: 18th November – 2nd January. More info: Blenheimpalace.com.
3. Watch a Christmas Film in Magical Surroundings
The Alfresco Film Company is creating a festive cinema experience at Stanbrook Abbey Hotel, near Worcester.
Films include The Holiday, Frozen, Nativity!, and Elf, and there’ll be comfy deckchairs, plenty of cosy blankets, warm drinks and festive snacks, too.
Dates: 21st – 22nd December. More info: Alfrescofilm.co.uk.
4. Explore Sudeley Castle’s After-Dark Experience
Returning for another year, Sudeley Castle is illuminating the grounds with a light trail. But this isn’t any light trail, you’ll be met by the famous characters from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz along the way.
Dates: 24th November to 30th December. More info: Sudeleycastle.co.uk.
5. Visit the Cotswold Christmas Shop
It’s Christmas all year around at the Cotswold Christmas Shop, in Lechlade. It’s the perfect place to get a special Christmas tree decoration or gift. (High Street, Lechlade, Glos, GL7 3AE; Cotswoldchristmasshop.co.uk.)
6. Enjoy a Festive Afternoon Tea
Add a little sparkle to your visit with a festive afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. Enjoy seasonal delights like turkey and cranberry sandwiches, spiced scones, festive cakes and mince pies.
A couple of mouth-watering options this Christmas include:
- Festive Afternoon Tea at The Slaughters Manor House – from 28th November – 23rd December. More info: Slaughtersmanor.co.uk.
- Festive Afternoon Tea at Stratton House Hotel – enquire for dates. More info: Strattonhousehotel.com.
7. Go Ice Skating
Outdoor ice skating has become a classic Christmas activity for the whole family. Glide on the ice under the twinkling lights, and then warm up with hot chocolate… or something a little stronger? Mulled wine, anyone?
This year, you’ll find festive ice rinks at:
- Cotswolds Water Park’s undercover Gateway Ice Rink. From 24th November – 3rd January. More info: Gatewayicerink.co.uk.
- Bath Royal Pavilion. From 17th November – 3rd January. More info: Bathonice.co.uk.
8. Visit Malvern Winter Glow
Malvern Winter Glow is one of the biggest festive events in the Cotswolds. At the Three Counties Showground magical festive activities await, from ice skating to fairground rides, Christmas markets and even the chance to meet Father Christmas in his grotto.
Dates: 24th November to 6th January. More info: Winterglow.co.uk.
9. Walk in a Winter Wonderland
The Cotswolds can be a winter wonderland at Christmas, and there’s nothing better than getting out and crunching through the frosty fields on two feet.
Take a walk around the iconic Bourton-on-the-Water and admire the beautifully decorated Christmas trees; take a hike up to the top of Little Solsbury Hill, near Bath. Or why not follow a section of the Cotswolds Way?
Make sure you finish at a cosy pub with a roaring fire, to warm up!
10. Go Sledging (if it’s snowy!)
If the Cotswolds happens to be covered in a thick blanket of snow at any point this Christmas, then put on your hat and gloves, grab your sledge and head to one of these great spots:
- Crickley Hill, Birdlip
- Leckhampton Hill, Leckhampton
- Broadway Tower, Broadway
- Cleeve Hill, Cheltenham
- Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons
- May Hill, Longhope
- Pittville Park, Cheltenham
- Painswick Beacon, Painswick
Thinking of a festive trip to the Cotswolds? Check out our pick of the area’s very best hotels.
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