Christmas in the Cotswolds is a magical time of year; wander through atmospheric chocolate-box villages illuminated by twinkling lights, the aroma of mulled wine and pine trees in the air, passing by cosy pubs full of festive cheer and roaring log fires.
Fall under the Cotswold’s captivating winter spell and enjoy the perfect festive break with our guide to what’s on in the Cotswolds this season. From bustling Christmas markets and dazzling illuminations, to Santa’s Grottos and outdoor ice rinks, we’ll help you get into the Christmas spirit!
15-25th November 2018
The historic Gloucester Quays will be filled with Yuletide cheer during its award-winning annual Victorian Christmas Market this year. Don your skates and take a turn around its glittering outdoor ice rink, admire the festive scene from above on the Ferris wheel and find the perfect presents for your loved ones at the plethora of market stalls as you tap your feet to the joyful sound of live choirs and brass bands.
22nd November-9th December 2018
Start your Christmas with a bang as you stroll through the cinnamon-fuelled markets, a mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate in hand and browse over 200 traditional stalls boasting the best crafts and gastronomic delights that Bath has to offer. One of the most popular Christmas markets in the Cotswolds, there is a Santa’s Grotto, along with an ice rink, plenty of family entertainment and an Après Ski Bar to enjoy a glass of festive cheer.
22nd November-15th December 2018
Enjoy a piping glass of mulled cider and a bratwurst while you peruse over 40 stalls selling all manner of quality gifts, crafts and food. Housed in gorgeous wooden chalets under the magical Christmas lights on the Promenade, the Cheltenham Christmas Market is a shopper’s delight and is guaranteed to make you feel festive.
23rd November 2018-1st January 2019
This family favourite Christmas event in the Cotswolds sees Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire becoming a winter wonderland of illuminations. Wander beneath twinkling tree canopies adorned with frosty snowflakes and glistening baubles, around the lake where brightly-lit boats bob across the water among dancing fountains and listen to the mesmerising voices of the Singing Trees. End your magical stroll with a spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate accompanied by toasted marshmallows.
Selected dates between 24th November-24th December 2018
Father Christmas and his cheeky elves are heading to Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park in Gloucestershire on selected dates during November and December this year. Watch little faces beam with delight as you enter his grotto; there are gifts for all the good girls and boys and the chance to have their picture taken with the jolly red man. Children, toddlers and young adults with a Father Christmas booking will also be invited into the elves workshop to make a Christmas eve box. Booking online in advance is highly recommended.
30th November & 7th December 2018
Join festive crowds of Christmas shoppers as Broadway begins the Cotswold Christmas markets season in style with two special evenings of late-night shopping. Treat yourself to a mulled wine and a warm mince pie while you browse the independent shops and join in the merriment with carol singers, street entertainers and even pony sleigh rides through the picturesque Cotswolds village.
1st December 2018
Festooned with seasonal decorations, Bourton-on-the-Water is a picture-postcard setting to enjoy Christmas festivities. On the 1st of December, its famous Christmas tree in the river will be lit and the whole village will be ablaze with sparkling lights. There are some lovely boutiques to purchase unique gifts and local produce from that you won’t find anywhere else, with many of the shops staying open until late and if you’re feeling peckish, there are a wealth of eateries offering festive fayre and winter warmers.
Selected dates between 1-23rd December 2018
As twilight falls this Christmas, follow an enchanting trail of light through the sensory winter wonderland of Westonbirt, The National Arboretum in Gloucestershire. This illuminated trail magically wends its way through the Arboretum’s world-famous tree collection for around one mile, creating a mesmerising display to delight all ages. Discover the Christmas village full of craft activities, fairground rides and friendly stilt walkers, and don’t forget to share your Christmas wishes with Santa. Indulge in a hog roast and gourmet burgers accompanied by a mulled wine or hot chocolate with whipped cream as the aroma of roasting chestnuts and toasted marshmallows fills the air, before browsing the arboretum’s festive gift shop. Booking in advance is essential.
Selected dates within 1-24th December 2018
Combine the nostalgia of a steam railway with the excitement of meeting Santa for a festive day out in the Cotswolds. Whether you chuff merrily along on the ‘Santa Railcar Special’ from Toddington or the ‘Santa Steam Special’ from Cheltenham Racecourse Station, Santa and his mischievous elves will be there to welcome each family and present every child with an exciting gift. There are complimentary mince pies, hot or cold drinks, biscuits and fruit for all who take part.
2nd December 2018
Encapsulating the true spirit of the Cotswolds festive season, the quintessential Cotswold village of Chipping Campden comes alive with cheery traders, family entertainment, music and wonderful food. The Christmas tree of light will be lit and with the soothing background music of the local choir, you’ll find foodie gifts, hand-crafted pressies and usually a bit of Glühwein to help you get into that merry spirit. All you need is a flutter of snow and it’s a scene worthy of a Christmas card!.
4th December 2018
Get your winter woollies on and embrace the festivities on offer with the whole family at the Winchcombe Christmas Festival, a much-loved Christmas event in the Cotswolds. In addition to the town’s shops offering a later opening time, there are over 40 market stalls laden with traditional Christmas gifts and festive food, as well as carol singing, live music, street entertainers and the chance for children to meet Father Christmas.
7-22nd December 2018
The city of dreaming spires will be filled with festive joy as the Oxford Christmas Market lines its historic streets with colourful wooden chalets this year. With the sound of choirs singing Christmas carols in the background, shoppers are sure to find the perfect stocking-fillers amongst the bountiful selection of artisan wares. Indulge in some spiced cider, mulled wine or hot chocolate as the aroma of roasting chestnuts fills the air, and of course, round it all off with a mince pie.
8-30th December 2018
Delight in some seasonal sparkle and experience the night-time magic of Sudeley near Winchcombe through its spectacular illuminated trail. Don your hats and scarves and follow the White Rabbit to discover some of the wonderful characters from Alice in Wonderland nestled within the grounds. Sip festive warmers of mulled wine and hot chocolate, tuck into hot savoury and sweet treats and marvel the castle ruins lit up in all their glory.
Where to stay in the Cotswolds at Christmas
The Cotswolds is a truly magical destination to spend the festive period in - not only are there these wonderful events to visit, but the winter scenery is simply stunning and perfect for a Christmas break to remember. With many of our cottages boasting roaring log fires, cosy blankets and fully-equipped kitchens, they are the perfect setting to gather the family and celebrate this special time of year. Why not have a browse of our Christmas cottages in the Cotswolds and start planning your yuletide holiday? Don’t forget to pack your Christmas jumper!
How will you be enjoying Christmas in the Cotswolds? Let us know on Facebook and Twitter and tag us in your Instagram photos too!
Dates are correct at the time of publishing; however, they are subject to change.