With the famous Cheltenham Racecourse, the Cheltenham summer festivals, beautiful green spaces and prime shopping, there are plenty of things to do to keep you entertained during your visit to Cheltenham. Check out our guide for popular things to do in the area.
The Chapel Spa is a Moroccan style spa in the centre of Cheltenham that offers a range of relaxing spa treatments, such as massage and facials, as well as facilities, such as a hydrotherapy pool and a steam room. The centre also has a gym and offers lunch and afternoon tea, which are locally sourced from nearby restaurants.
The Cheltenham Festival is perhaps one of the most famous and well known horse races in the world. Taking place at the Cheltenham Racecourse each March, this 4-day horseracing event attracts over 200,000 visitors each year with an astounding £200 million placed in bets. With events, such as classy and refined Ladies Day, to the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup Day, each day is sure to provide entertaining and thrilling action for the Festival spectators.
The Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival takes place over 3-days in mid-June, providing samples of gourmet food and drinks. With celebrity chefs performing cooking demonstrations, fresh local Gloucestershire produce for sale, samples of gourmet cuisine from local restaurants and beer and wine tastings, this festival is every foodie’s dream.
For 6-days in early May, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival paints the town with ‘all that Jazz’, catering to over 20,000 visitors each year. The festival not only exhibits well-known Jazz players, but also supports the talents of younger British Jazz musicians just getting started in their music careers. Taking place in the picturesque Montpellier Gardens, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival is ideal for the whole family, especially for those who love music.
The Cheltenham Literature Festival takes place over 10-days each autumn and centres around the wonderful world of literature. The festival features authors, playwrights and poets with literary events that involve debates, readings, lectures and book signings amongst others. The festival runs alongside “Book It!”, which concentrates primarily on children’s literature and activities for all the younger readers out there.
For 12-days between June and July each year, the town of Cheltenham transforms into a melodious hub for composers and performers alike to showcase their musical talents. With concerts, workshops, lectures, film viewings and much more, the Cheltenham Music Festival is sure to start your summer on the right note.
With a capacity for 67,500 spectators, the Cheltenham Racecourse is always sure to have a crowd for the many horseracing events that take place throughout the year. Most famous for the Cheltenham Festival, the Cheltenham Racecourse has hosted horseracing since 1831 and brags two racecourses, a cross-country course, as well as South West England’s largest auditoria, the Centaur.
For 6-days at the beginning of June, Cheltenham welcomes over 40,000 visitors to the Cheltenham Science Festival. The festival consists of lectures, debates, competitions, interactive displays and educational exhibitions relating to the subjects of science and technology. With opportunities for science enthusiasts of all ages, the Cheltenham Science Festival offers a fun and educational way for the whole family to start their summer. You could even say they’ve got it down to a science!
Cleeve Hill provides stunning views of Cheltenham, the racecourse, the River Severn and even Wales at 1,083ft or 330m above sea level. As the highest point in the Cotswolds, Cleeve Hill has become a great attraction for those who like to walk and is part of the famous Cotswold Way walking trail. The looped trail, starting from the Cleeve Hill Golf Course, takes approximately 3-hours to complete and visitors will be awarded with amazing Cotswolds views upon their ascent to the summit of the hill.
Built in the early 1900s, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway takes us back in time with ye olde steam and diesel locomotives leading the way. The 12-mile line extends from Cheltenham Racecourse to the rural village of Laverton and provides brilliant views of the Cotswolds. There are also plenty of opportunities for youngsters with special Thomas the Tank days and appearances from Santa Claus himself during the festive season.
From choral pieces, orchestral works to operas, Gustav Holst is a well-known British composer most notable for his composition of The Planets. Born in 1874 in Cheltenham, Holst spent part of his life in Gloucestershire before moving to London to study at the Royal College of Music. As a tribute to Holst, Cheltenham has transformed Holst’s original home into the Holst Birthplace Museum to commemorate the man himself and his great success story as a composer.
With over 25,000 bedding plant species and beautiful tree-lined pathways, Imperial Gardens is a tranquil place to escape city life and go for a relaxing stroll within the heart of Cheltenham. Within the gardens, you will find a statue of Gustav Holst who was a Cheltenham native, and a chic garden bar, which is open throughout the summer months. There are also various art exhibitions that place each summer, giving visitors the opportunity to admire and purchase the work of local artists. Located in the centre of Cheltenham, the Imperial Gardens offers free and healthy fun for all ages.
The Montpellier District is one of the most fashionable and desirable locations in the Cheltenham area. With gorgeous architecture, picturesque gardens, sleek cafés, trendy bars and boutique shops with luxury items, this district is one of the finest shopping areas around. Created by two gentlemen in the 19th century as a retreat from dusty city life, the Montpellier District embodies the finer things in life, whispering tales of its elegant past with its Regency architecture and polished backdrop.
With tennis courts, row boats, a pitch and putt golf course, a skate park and more, there are plenty of healthy activities for people of all ages to enjoy at the Pittville Park in Cheltenham. Located in the centre of town, this 33-acre park is a fun and free way to spend an afternoon with the whole family. The park is a tranquil green space, great for relaxing in the sun or taking the dog out for a walk. With its two beautiful lakes and picturesque bridges, Pittville Park is a brilliant place to have a picnic and enjoy the beauty that Cheltenham has to offer.
Bust out your finest tweed jacket and your sheep dog for a weekend of clay pigeon shooting at the Prescott Shooting School. The school is open to novices and pros alike and is located just outside of Cheltenham near the town of Winchcombe. With both group and individual tuition available, the school offers lessons and practice on clay pigeon shooting, archery and air rifles. The school offers a range of packages that vary from a short 30-minutes to a weekend long excursion that includes accommodation. Whether you just want a taste of the British countryside or you need a good idea for your mate’s stag do, the Prescott Shooting School is a brilliant day out.
The Prescott Speed Hill Climb is a car racing venue with a course that is just over 0.6 miles long with an elevation of over 200 feet. The site holds events throughout the summer, featuring cars that can reach 60 miles per hour under 2 seconds, as well as showcasing vintage and classic cars. There are even opportunities to learn a bit about driving yourself with tutors available to help get you behind the wheel on the racetrack. Just outside of Cheltenham in Gotherington, Prescott Speed Hill Climb is ideal for anyone who loves cars and racing.
The Sandford Parks Lido takes us back to a time when going to the lido was the most popular British pastime during the summer months. With a 50-metre long outdoor swimming pool perfectly heated to 24C, the pool is large enough for the more serious swimmers to do their laps, whilst the rest of us splash about in the sunshine. There are also two other pools reserved entirely for your youngsters, including a paddling pool and a shallow pool with slides. The lido is sure to provide an afternoon of healthy summer fun for the entire family that will not break the bank. Don’t forget the sun tan lotion!
Occupied to this day by Lady Ashcombe and family, Sudeley Castle was built in the 15th century and has had many a famous royal resident. Whilst used primarily as a private residence, the occupiers have opened their home to visitors in order to share the beauty and history of this beautiful Grade I listed building. With masterfully grown and intricate gardens, as well as St Mary’s Church where Queen Katherine Parr is buried, Sudeley Castle has an incredible amount of space and history to explore.
Located at the Dean Close School, the Bacon Theatre and the Tuckwell Amphitheatre provides an extensive range of live theatre performances at very reasonable prices. For indoor theatre productions, check out the Bacon Theatre and, for outdoor summer performances, be sure to visit the Tuckwell Amphitheatre. With Shakespearian works, as well as more modern plays, these live performance theatres in Cheltenham are sure to keep you and your family entertained.
Perhaps misleading in name, the Brewery Cheltenham is not an actual brewery, but a 200,000 square foot retail and leisure venue. The Brewery includes restaurants, cafés, bars, cinemas, a children’s play area and a Fitness First gym. It also holds various events throughout the year, including a visit from Father Christmas and his reindeer, Cinco de Mayo festivities, Chinese New Year celebrations, as well as Burger and Dance festivals. The Brewery thrives today as a community hub and entertainment space for both visitors and locals in Cheltenham to enjoy.
The Everyman Theatre in the centre of Cheltenham offers an array of various performances, such as classic and modern plays, musicals, stand-up comedy, ballet performances, concerts and more. Located in a Grade II Victorian building, which was designed by English architect, Frank Matcham, the prestigious Everyman Theatre provides grand entertainment for every man, woman and child. Tours of the theatre can be arranged and there are even a few bars and a café that serve up refreshments prior to the shows and during the intervals.
Located within Montpellier Gardens in the Montpellier District of Cheltenham, the Gardens Gallery offers a range of art exhibitions from both local and regional artists. The gallery also hosts workshops for the general public throughout the year, which are led by local artists and teach different techniques and aspects of art. The Garden Gallery is truly a community space for art, as their main aim is to give local artists a place in which to display their creations.
Located within the leisure complex, the Brewery, the Play Farm provides a safe indoor play structure for children with a café just next to it for their parents. Following a fun a farm theme, children are able to play in a soft area with small climbing walls and slides. There is even an area for babies and toddlers, separated from the more active and energetic youngsters. You can also hire out the Play Farm exclusively for your child’s birthday, which include food, drink and party favours at just under £7 per child.
The Promenade is most notable for its great shopping, including not only luxury designer shops, but also sleek boutique shops and the more familiar high street brands. Surrounded by the lush Long Gardens with the iconic Neptune Fountain, the Promenade is one of the most beautiful areas to shop in Cheltenham. With tree-lined streets, stunning regency buildings and a floral setting, the Promenade whispers tales of Cheltenham’s long-standing and refined history.
The Screening Rooms is located within the leisure complex, the Brewery, and offers a premier cinema and deluxe film viewing experience. Order food from the comfort of your large, spacious seat and enjoy a beer whilst watching the latest and greatest films. With a great range of food, snacks, beer, wine, cocktails and barista-style hot beverages, the Screening Rooms is probably the most comfortable and luxurious cinema experience you will find in the Cheltenham area.
The Wilson – Cheltenham Art Gallery and Museum is located in the centre of town and is named after the famous Antarctic explorer, Edward Wilson. The gallery has different sections, comprising of a room that details Wilson’s explorations, as well as beautiful landscape paintings of the Cotswolds. There is also a plethora of other paintings, antique china, wood carvings, archaeological treasures, amongst other items that will interest any budding artist.
The New Court World War One Museum is located within Maxima Forum on Lansdown Road in a Grade II listed building. The actual museum is located in what used to be a Voluntary Aid Detachment hospital – one of the first of its kind in Cheltenham. The museum is a great way to look back on this famous world war to understand what life was like for the soldiers during this historic event. From stories to actual artefacts, New Court explores WWI and commemorates its centenary.