Lying on the outskirts of the stunning Cotswolds, in the county of Gloucestershire, Cheltenham is the perfect place to spend the day – either as a visitor or for those who are lucky enough to live there. Whether it is excitement, classic sites, or festive fun, there is something for everyone in Cheltenham, all set amongst elegant Regency architecture and nestled in the beautiful countryside.
Cheltenham is a wonderful town to wander around. You can visit the bustling town centre, explore one of Cheltenham’s largest suburbs – Charlton Kings, with its fantastic eateries and breathtaking countryside, or admire the balustrade balconies of the Regency buildings. Additionally, there are a plethora of ways that you can enjoy a great day out in Cheltenham, especially over the winter!
1. Cheltenham Christmas Markets
Located on The Long Gardens and pedestrianised Promenade, in front of the Municipal Buildings, Cheltenham Christmas Markets are the perfect place to get in the festive spirit, get some retail therapy, support local businesses, and add a little sparkle to your life. With about 80 market stalls for your perusal, you can marvel at the highly skilled artisanal skills on display, buy unique presents for your loved ones, and relax with a glass of mulled wine and a delectable Christmassy snack.
Cheltenham Christmas Markets run from 8th December until 24th December 2022, but if you are unable to wait that long, you could also visit the Cheltenham Christmas Craft Markets which will take place between the 19th and 20th of November. They’re definitely one of the best things to do in Cheltenham come Christmas time.
2. A Day at The Races
Cheltenham’s famous racecourse is the home to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and jumps races throughout the year. Set in the rolling Cotswold hills, the racecourse in Cheltenham has been hosting horse racing events for over 120 years and is the place where the hooves of horses thud on the ground, the roar of the crowd push them on, and fortunes are won and lost.
There are plenty of days of racing throughout the year, including The November Meeting on the 11th to the 13th of November 2022, The International on the 9th and 10th of December and Cheltenham’s New Years’ Day Races on the 1st of January 2023.
3. The Wilson Art Gallery and Museum
The Wilson is Cheltenham’s award-winning gallery and museum that provides excellent exhibitions, displays, and events. The recently refurbished building holds a range of different collections for you to discover, including items relating to Dr Wilson’s expeditions to the Antarctic with Captain Scott, an extensive Arts and Crafts Movement collection, and a selection of interesting items relating to Cheltenham’s past.
Over the winter, The Wilson will host a range of different collections, events, workshops, and music, including Iwanowski’s exhibition, ‘Clear of People’, lino Christmas card printing workshops, and live music in The Wilson Kitchen (arts café).
4. Cheltenham Microbrewery Tour
Are you interested in more than just drinking beer to get drunk? Do you have a curiosity about the art of brewing, want to understand more about the science behind what makes a great beer, and want to support local Cheltenham businesses? Then the Cheltenham Microbrewery tour is for you. In this fascinating walking tour (with the bonus of trying some of the beers, of course), you can visit three of Cheltenham’s finest microbreweries, that produce beer ranging from classic British to hoppy American-style beer.
The tour runs until the 14th of December 2022, Mondays to Sundays.
5. Cheltenham Promenade Guided Tour
Cheltenham has a rich history, incorporating characters such as Jane Austin, the Duke of Wellington, and Charles Dickens. Its memorable regency architecture is a feature that is never forgotten by visitors to the town, and a Promenade guided tour takes you through its history, including its famous buildings and parks. There is a range of different tours to suit all tastes – from the Regency ‘Tea Tour’, walking you through Cheltenham’s historic buildings and gardens, and finishes in a gin and tearoom, to the ‘Curry and Colonels’ Tour, looking at Cheltenham’s links to India and unique history.
The walking tours last one and a half hours each, leaving at different times throughout the day. More information can be found on their website.
What to do in Cheltenham
Whatever you are interested in, Cheltenham has something to offer you. It has a well-served railway station and bus links across the country and links to the M4, M5, M6, and A40.