The Cotswolds is a beautiful region of the UK to visit at any time of the year, but during the coldest months it becomes a true winter wonderland.
The UK’s long winter nights makes many of us want to wrap up warm and stay inside, but those that make the effort to venture out are rewarded. On the run up to Christmas the region becomes covered with beautiful twinkling lights, with special events taking place at spectacular venues across the Cotswolds, including stately homes.
And even when the weather’s at its worst, you’ve still got the pleasure of getting cosy in some of the UK’s most pretty country pubs. There you can grab a mulled wine and a blanket, and curl up in front of a roaring fire.
Things to do in the Cotswolds in Winter
We asked our favourite bloggers based in the Cotswolds to offer their tips on the events not to miss during winter and here’s what they came up with…
Tara from Cotswold Tara
After the final embers of bonfire night fireworks have burnt out, it’s hard to motivate the family to leave the house after 4pm. The winter nights draw in earlier and earlier, and nighttime seems to begin sometime after lunch.
Cue Christmas at Blenheim, the perfect antidote for dark winter nights. After a welcoming mulled wine or hot chocolate in your commemorative mug, you are free to walk through the fully immersive light display that spans the formal gardens of this historic Cotswold institution.
The festive display will put you firmly in the Christmas spirit, with stunning snowflakes and giant baubles filling the ancient trees. There’s a welcome pitstop halfway round with a range of chalets offering refreshments: our 2017 favourites were artisan marshmallows to roast on open fire pits – delicious! The final leg of the tour included stunning projections onto the old stables and a walk through drop light area, which is perfect for that Instagram-worthy Christmas card picture!
If you’re not ready for the night to end, returning to the courtyard gives you an opportunity to enjoy the gift shop and a warming stew to send you on your way.
One final tip – on your way around the lights, be sure to keep an eye out for Santa and his elves, you never know where you might find them…
Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle
Lucy from – www.ontheluce.com
Sudeley Castle is one of the Cotswolds’ historic gems. This castle near Winchcombe has a royal history going back 1,000 years and its chapel is the final resting place Henry VIII’s last wife Katherine Parr. Now a private home, it’s a fascinating place to visit at any time of year, but on winter evenings it gets an extra dose of sparkle for the Spectacle of Light.
The first Spectacle of Light event was held in 2016 and it’s quickly become a Cotswolds Christmas tradition. Over 20,000 LED lights are used to illuminate the castle, chapel and gardens, painting them with bright colours and sparkling lights. You follow paths through trees hanging with lanterns and glitter balls, tunnels of fairy lights and glowing fountains reflected in the water below. And you can warm your hands up with a mulled wine or a hot chocolate along the way.
Each year the lights and music used for the event are completely different, so you never know what to expect. This year’s Spectacle of Light is being held on 8–9, 13–23 and 27–30 December 2018 and is based on the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, so it’s a magical way for the whole family to get into the Christmas spirit.
New Years Day racing at Cheltenham Racecourse
Tara from Cotswold Tara
The festive season is well known as a time to wrap up, stay inside and overindulge by the fire.
Nothing blows away the cobwebs like an afternoon at the home of jump racing, Cheltenham Racecourse. Don your tweed, fill up the hip flasks and get 2019 off to a flying start with a full card of nine races, usually starting around midday.
For those with a clear head or bringing the family, the gates open at 10:30 so why not make a fully day of it? Before the first race, take a walk through the hall of fame to learn about the historic runners and riders at Cheltenham, as well as the Family Fun Zone, which this year will include a visit from Paw Patrol!
To stay warm between races, make sure to take shelter in the Arkle Bar for a flavour of ‘classic Cheltenham’, or enjoy the stunning Princess Royal stand, completed in 2015. This stand is also home to the Owners and Trainers Enclosure so be sure to keep an eye out for jump racing ‘royalty’ when in the vicinity.
Whether you’re a seasoned race-goer or you don’t know your furlongs from your fetlocks, you cannot help but be captivated by the magic of Cheltenham Races.
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