Want to know the best times to visit the Cotswolds? Our top picks of things to do each month will help you decide. Whether you want an idea for a romantic weekend away, you wish to discover some of the Cotswolds’ most quirky traditions or you fancy seeing the lavender fields at their finest, certain months are best. For any events and venues mentioned, please check dates and opening times before travelling.
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A host of quirky things to see await you in the Cotswolds and January kicks off the year with wassailing. What’s that you might be thinking. Well, it’s an Anglo-Saxon term that relates to drinking to good health. Traditionally, a wassail bowl was taken around local village pubs and songs were sung to wish villagers a healthy and prosperous year ahead.
To witness this lively celebration live on, head to Stroud where entertainment from wassailers, mummers and street performers bring the town to life with the art of wassailing. It lasts just one day, but it’s a day full of music, dance and fun that’s sure to cheer you on a cold winter’s day.View Cotswolds Cottages
February is the month of love, so the perfect time to treat your beloved to a romantic cottage for two in the Cotswolds. With a setting of stunning countryside and chocolate box villages, you are halfway there to impressing your other half.
However, wrapping up warm for a hand-in-hand stroll in the fresh air, followed by lunch in a cosy pub is special too and in February it’s all about the snowdrop walks. Painswick Rococo Garden in the town of Painswick is one of the best places to see snowdrops in all their glory. No less than around 5 million come into bloom here and cover the banks and woodlands in a blanket of dainty white buds.
Other beautiful places to enjoy a snowdrop walk include Colesbourne Gardens and the National Trust’s Newark Park Gardens.View Cotswolds Cottages
The Festival™ at Cheltenham is a horse-racing extravaganza held at Cheltenham Racecourse in March. Spread over four days, the meeting features Grade I races including the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Queen Mother Champion Chase. Whether you wish to place a bet or simply want to watch the horses – and riders – go head-to-head for first place, Cheltenham is renowned for its atmosphere.
If you are planning a trip to the Cotswolds with a group of friends, this event is very popular, especially if you like to dress up, socialise and end the day with a meal in one of Cheltenham’s superb restaurants.View Cotswolds Cottages
The Cotswolds is blessed with beautiful gardens and in April many that are closed for the winter reopen to visitors. The gardens at Highgrove, the private home of Their Majesties The King Charles III and The Queen Consort, are quite special and are open for visits (from April to October).
You must pre-book a tour in order to visit and there are several to choose from, including Spring Walks and Cyclamen Strolls. However, the Champagne Tea Tour is a real treat and includes a tour with an experienced guide who will show you around some of the king’s favourite parts of the garden, followed by afternoon tea in Highgrove’s elegant Orchard Tea Room.View Cotswolds Cottages
May is the time to abandon the image of the Cotswolds as a quaint and tranquil location, for a day or two at least. For this month sees two of the region’s quirkiest traditions celebrated in crazy style.
First up, there’s the Gloucestershire Cheese Rolling competition. The dramatic event begins when an 8lb Double Gloucester cheese is rolled down Cooper’s Hill which is part of a beautiful, and usually serene, nature reserve in Gloucester. Competitors chase the cheese, rarely staying on two feet, and first to the bottom wins it.
Secondly, there’s the Tetbury Woolsack Races, where participants race around a course carrying a sack of wool and the event culminates in celebrations in the town.View Cotswolds Cottages
From around mid-June the lavender fields in the Cotswolds begin to flower in a sea of vibrant purple buds. The Cotswolds Lavender farm is a fantastic place to see this mesmerising spectacle before the crop is harvested in full bloom towards the end of July.
Cotswold Lavender is set on a family farm, overlooking Broadway and the Vale of Evesham. As well as viewing the lavender, you can purchase a range of lavender-infused products including essential oil, body lotions, candles and lavender tea. Meanwhile, there is a wildflower meadow that attracts a host of butterflies and insects to visit, as well as the Beechwood Trail where kids can enjoy nature walks.View Cotswolds Cottages
Summertime is time for festivals and outdoor concerts galore. Battle Proms at Blenheim Palace is a highlight of the summer social calendar in the Cotswolds. A showcase of battle re-enactment and wartime nostalgia, the event invites you to picnic by day whilst enjoying a variety of air displays, then revel, with a glass of champagne in-hand, at an evening concert that concludes with fireworks.
Meanwhile, the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford is a first-class celebration of aviation history. If you love the roar, noise and splendour of an air show, this one is for you.View Cotswolds Cottages
The Cotswolds has lots of family-friendly things to see and do in the school holidays. Every August Bank Holiday Monday, the village of Bourton-on-the-Water hosts a mini football match in the shallows of the River Windrush. It is quite something to watch. While in the village, pop into the Model Village where children and grown-ups alike can pretend to be giants for a while.
For animal-lovers, there’s the Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens near Burford, that’s home to a wide range of birds, mammals, primates, reptiles and amphibians.
Meanwhile, Feastival held over the August Bank Holiday weekend is a family-friendly event full of good music, food and entertainment.View Cotswolds Cottages
In September, it’s time for the Moreton-in-Marsh Show which is held annually on the first Saturday of the month. It is a very popular agricultural show that celebrates rural Cotswolds life.
A host of events and competitions entertain visitors throughout the day and can include anything from a Shetland Pony Grand National to motocross displays. Meanwhile, highlights for many include the Horse Show, the Livestock Grand Parade and the Dog Show.
For little ones there are activities such as meeting farm animals and learning circus skills. Add to this the opportunity to sample local produce such as cheeses and stalls selling everything from handicrafts to wellies, and you have an interesting day out for all.View Cotswolds Cottages
For bookworms, one of the best times to visit the Cotswolds is October for the Cheltenham Literature Festival. Held over 10 days, a variety of events and activities for all age groups are on offer and you can discover new fiction writers, listen to poetry recitals and hear talks from celebrity authors.
At this time of year, there are also many spectacular displays of autumn colour in the Cotswolds. Head to either Westonbirt Arboretum or Batsford Arboretum and see the maple trees in the most incredible shades of red, orange and gold. Both are very popular in October so tickets should be booked to avoid disappointment.View Cotswolds Cottages
The Cotswolds is home to some of England’s most beautiful historic and stately homes and November is a fantastic time to visit them. They can be less busy than the summer months and towards the end of November they tend to be dressed for Christmas which is always magical.
Where to start? By the end of November Blenheim Palace’s after-dark illuminated outdoor trail is ready to explore and promises thousands of lights, seasonal sounds and a backdrop of trees and the lake.
Sudeley Castle and Gardens hosts a similar event, the Spectacle of Light, in its gardens that includes sparkling water features, fire, lights and lanterns.View Cotswolds Cottages
Treat yourself to a pre-Christmas break in the Cotswolds to enjoy shopping in village boutiques and Christmas markets, fun and festivities. With beautiful scenery and quaint country pubs with roaring log fires, it is a fantastic place to get into the festive spirit.
Every year in Bourton-on-the-Water a huge Christmas tree is put up in the middle of the River Windrush, making the village a lovely place to shop for gifts and savour a festive lunch in one of the charming cafes.
Meanwhile, for the full-on Christmas market experience, try Blenheim Palace, Cheltenham, Cirencester and Gloucester.View Cotswolds Cottages
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