The autumn is a wonderful time to visit the UK, and the Cotwolds is a particular delight at this time of year. As the summertime gives way to cooler temperatures, the colours are a magical sight. And with feasts and festivals popping up all over the place, and Christmas just around the corner, already quaint market towns somehow become even more delightful.
So, if you’re looking for some things to do in the Cotswolds in the autumn, here are our top ten activities to keep you busy.
1. Enjoy the Autumn Colours at Westonbirt Arboretum
Location: Westonbirt, Tetbury GL8 8QS
Westonbirt Arboretum is beautiful all year round, but particularly scenic in the autumn months. As the leaves turn from green to deep rusty and golden hues the entire place is a feast for the senses. Check out the Katsura Tree in particular, its bright yellow leaves and candy floss smell is something quite special.
Set in amongst tranquil Cotswold countryside, the Arboretum is a peaceful haven where you can enjoy nature at its best.
2. Check Out the Blenheim Horse Trials
Location: Blenheim Palace, Woodstock OX20 1PP
Blenheim Horse Trials is an annual event held in September at Blenheim Palace in Woodstock, near Oxford. It’s a three-day affair, inviting you not only to enjoy the stunning palace grounds but to watch the dressage and showjumping events, peruse the shopping stalls, and even watch the amazing falconry displays in the Family Fun Zone.
3. Pick Your Own Pumpkin
Location: Cotswold Farm Park, Guiting Power, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL54 5FL
Nothing depicts Autumn like the humble pumpkin, and if you want to choose your own, Cotswold Farm Park lets you handpick one from its fields. When you buy your Farm Park admission ticket, you can also buy a token for the pumpkin PYO for just an extra £1.
Aside from the pumpkins, the Farm Park itself invites you to interact with the animals, and discover rare species on its wildlife walk.
4. Eat & Drink in a Cosy Costwolds Pub
You can’t go far in the Cotswolds without stumbling across a quintessentially English country pub. And there’s no better time of year than autumn to cosy up by the fire and enjoy a pint of local beer and a delicious meal, especially after a brisk walk along the country lanes.
A short pick of our favourite Cotswolds pubs:
- The Chequers at Churchill
- The Kingham Plough
- The Potting Shed at Crudwell
- The Wheatsheaf in Northleach
- The Village Pub, Barnsley
- The Swan in Swinbrook
- The Swan in Southrop
- The Bell at Sapperton
- The Falkland Arms at Great Tew
- The Victoria Inn at Eastleach
5. Go to a Country Show
Location: Batsford Rd, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0AB, United Kingdom
Country shows pop up all over the Cotswolds during the autumn. The Moreton Show is just one of these, where locals and visitors, come together to celebrate local farm crafts, prizewinning livestock and all sorts of interesting shops and displays.
Moreton Show has been held annually since 1949 on the Batsford Estate, so has a long history behind it. A truly rural experience that’s well worth doing if you’re in the Cotswolds in September.
6. Cheltenham Literature Festival
Location: Cheltenham Town Hall GL50 1QA, Imperial Square & Montpellier Gardens GL50 1SD
Held annually in early October, Cheltenham Literature Festival hosts an impressive list of authors, writers, poets and politicians to celebrate the written word.
The programme includes workshops, interviews, debates and conversations, and is a great way to discover new writers or enjoy the work of your favourites.
7. Take a Long Circular Walk
You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to Cotswolds walks, and there’s no better time to enjoy the rolling hills, cute country lanes and chocolate box villages than the autumn months.
Our favourites include circular walks starting in Winchcombe, Bibury, Chipping Campden and Minchinhampton (you can find the routes here), and walks that centre around a great local pub.
Wear layers, waterproofs and a good pair of walking shoes and embrace whatever weather is thrown your way!
8. Go Stargazing by Campfire
The Cotswolds is relatively unpolluted by light, and is therefore a great spot in which to lie back in the open air and watch the stars go by. Bring a flask of hot chocolate, a torch and a blanket to snuggle under, and head to some of our favourite stargazing spots: Painswick Beacon, Frocester Hill in Stroud, or Nottingham Hill in Cheltenham.
9. Enjoy a November 5th Firework Display
Bonfire Night – or “Guy Fawkes Night” as it’s traditionally called – is a big deal in the UK, so if you’re around in November, you must set aside the night of November 5th to check out a Cotswolds firework display.
The evening revolves around a huge bonfire on top of which sits an effigy of Guy Fawkes who was executed for attempting (and failing) to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. After the bonfire is lit, you can watch the firework display whilst enjoying a mulled cider or hot chocolate by the bonfire.
Some of our favouirte annual bonfire nights include:
- Cheltenham Round Table Fireworks Extravaganza
- Tewkesbury Rotary Club’s Bonfire Night and Fireworks Display
- Bonfire night at Soho Farmhouse
10. Get Spooked at Frightmare
Location: 1 Brunswick Road, Gloucester, Gloucestershire, GL1 1PU
Over Farm just outside Gloucester is where you should spend your Halloween if you’re in the Cotswolds at the end of October. Utterly spine-chilling, Frightmare offers you the chance to explore the farm when it’s been taken over by zombies and ghouls. If you can hold your nerve long enough, you can also enjoy the Haunted Hayride and carnival to complete your trip.
We’re big fans of the Cotswolds in the autumn. The rusty-coloured countryside, cosy pubs, and bracing walks, not the mention all the feasts and festivals, are all good reasons to make a trip here from September through November.
And if you’d like to get more out of your trip, check out our walking or cycling tours in the Cotswolds, or get in touch directly to find out more.