There are many festive activities for you to enjoy throughout Christmas time in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire. Whether it’s Christmas shopping, dining out or a Christmas-specific activity, there are lots for all ages to enjoy.
Who doesn’t enjoy seeing Christmas lights lit up on winter evenings? Go beyond your traditional Christmas light trail experience and join one of the unique events below.
The Spectacle of Light is a popular attraction in its 7th year running. You can follow the illuminated trail of lights around Sudeley Castle’s beautiful grounds.
It is run on select evenings from 25 Nov to 30 Dec, and when booking, you have an allocated time slot so that it is not overcrowded and you can enjoy it at a comfortable pace. Hot food and drinks are available. Tuck into doughnuts or chilli fries, or take a hot chocolate with you as you take in the views of the magical gardens. There are also gluten-free and vegan options available.
Some new additions for 2022 include a sparkling water feature and the mesmerising “Field of fire”.
There is free parking available onsite.
Enjoy the illuminated woodland trail set up by Santa’s elves. The course is 1 mile long and takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour and a half to complete.
Santa will make a brief appearance on the trail, but the Enchanted woodland is primarily operated by Santa’s elves, who are there to entertain visitors.
Before you enjoy the illuminated woodland trail, soak up some festive cheer in one of the two Christmas villages. Two villages are available to visit, one before the course and one after. Both have food and drink stalls and some traditional fairground rides.
Enchanted Christmas runs throughout most evenings of December and some of November. Booking in advance is essential.
The trail is entirely on complex paths, so it is suitable for wheelchairs, mobility scooters, and pushchairs.
Free parking is available for visitors onsite, and you will be directed to one of the two car parks available.
Enjoy the gardens at Blenheim Palace as they shine with a million lights as festive sounds play. Admire the lights in various settings, with lit-up tunnels, reflecting lakes, and decorated trees. There is also a fire garden and large illuminations to see. Don’t forget to catch a glimpse of Santa!
In the gardens, you’ll also find independent street food vendors. Hot drinks are also available, meaning you can take a hot chocolate with you as you walk around and admire the gardens.
Within Blenheim Palace is The Kingdom of the Snow Queen, where the Palace rooms are converted to a wintery kingdom of ice. It feels like a true winter wonderland. You can also enjoy a winter wonderland-themed afternoon tea. To participate in this experience, you can add it at the end of your booking process, and you’ll require a ticket to Christmas at Blenheim Palace.
A Christmas market is also available to visit with small traders set up in wooden chalets, perfect for some Christmas shopping. The Christmas market opens on 18 Nov and runs until 18 Dec. On the nights the trail is open, the market will stay open until 9 pm; on unilluminated nights, it closes at 6 pm.
Christmas at Blenheim Palace starts on 18 Nov 2022 and finishes on 2 Jan 2023. Parking is available onsite, but charges apply. Parking needs to be booked in advance.
The Suffolks Market is a popular Cheltenham event, and the Christmas Market in the Suffolks runs on Sunday, 27 Nov, from 11 am to 5 pm. This Christmas market has an emphasis on local, independent traders. You can expect to see arts & crafts, designers & makers, and food & drink.
Cotswolds Market organises Cheltenham’s Christmas Market and runs daily from 8 Dec to 24 Dec this year.
It is set up along the Promenade and the Long Gardens in front of Cheltenham’s Municipal Office. You have many opportunities to get some unique Christmas presents and enjoy delicious treats.
Cheltenham’s Christmas Craft Market is run on the 19th and 20th of November, the same weekend Cheltenham launches its Christmas shopping. This market is dedicated to local craftspeople selling handmade goods. It is located alongside the Cheltenham Christmas Market.
Explore new vendor stalls with handmade crafts and delicious food. The Pop Up Christmas Market in Cheltenham runs from 2nd – 4th December. It is located alongside the Cheltenham Christmas Market.
Roaming festive street entertainment will occur in Cheltenham town centre every weekend from the 19 Nov through 24 Dec. More details are coming soon!
Going to see a show is a tradition amongst many families at Christmas time, and there are a few different things for you to go and watch this year in Cheltenham’s theatres.
Celebrate Christmas films with The Studio Orchestra in Cheltenham Town Hall as they cover music from various festival favourites, from Elf to Harry Potter to Home Alone and more!
Catch this show on Saturday, 3 Dec. Book your tickets for Christmas at the movies now.
This family-friendly show is about two friends and one person on a magical adventure to discover the world of The Snow Queen. The show runs from Thursday, 24 Nov – Saturday, 31 Dec; specific dates have already sold out, so book your tickets to avoid disappointment.
Dick Whittington is a family favourite. It’s a classic pantomime show about a man and his cat.
This show runs from Friday 25 Nov – Sunday 8 Dec.
Here are some activities for those who love to make crafts around Christmas time.
Christmas wreath-making workshop with afternoon tea
Participate in this unique festive experience – create your own classic festive door decoration and enjoy some afternoon tea at Ellenborough Park.
The person responsible for decorating the 5-star hotel also teaches the workshop, so you’re in safe hands. The workshop also includes a festive-themed afternoon tea from turkey and cranberry finger sandwiches to mini mince pies.
Learn how to design, carve and print your lino Christmas cards. Once you’ve finished the workshop, you can take your lino print to use again and send out Christmas cards to friends.
Your ticket price includes a light lunch in the cafe, a festive sandwich, and a hot drink. Book your ticket.
This is a unique way to say hello to Santa. Travel from Cheltenham Racecourse station to the North Pole (Winchcombe) on a Steam Train. You’ll meet Santa and his elves in his cave and explore a winter wonderland there.
The entire experience lasts almost 3 hours and includes complimentary refreshments, hot drinks, and mince pies.
There is free parking available at Cheltenham Racecourse station.
Whilst Cheltenham Council has sadly announced that its pop-up ice rink is cancelled for 2022, Gloucester Quays’ ice rink is still going ahead in the city centre of Gloucester, so you can still participate in this fun, festive activity in a location close to Cheltenham.
Christmas shopping officially launches in Cheltenham on 19 Nov, when the lights are on.
Join the high street ceremony with two 15-minute festive performances, then head to The Brewery Quarter for a free lively entertainment show.
The location of the performances:
Cheltenham High Street at Cambray Place and pedestrianised Promenade at 5 pm
Imperial Gardens and High Street near M&S at 6.30 pm
The festivities in The Brewery Quarter begin at 3 pm.
On the 19 Nov, you’ll also notice the appearance of 10 Nutcracker Kings around Cheltenham. If you follow the trail and find the name of the 10 Kings, you can enter a draw to win a £100 Cheltenham gift card. Learn more about the Nutcracker trail.
There are many reasons to stay in Cheltenham through the festive season, and you can stay in one of our luxury apartments to make the visit extra memorable.
You can view our range of properties available throughout Christmas and New Year, but here are some of our highlights that are still available:
Elizabeth House, Flat 1, is a property in the heart of Cheltenham, just a short stroll away from Cheltenham’s restaurants, bars, and shops.
Also close by is Elizabeth House, Flat 6, which is in the desirable Cheltenham location again.
14 Tivoli Mews is another one of our properties available throughout the festive period. That is in a beautiful part of Cheltenham, close to Bath Road and Cheltenham’s Promenade.
Please note that any stays from 23rd – 30th December have a 5-day minimum stay requirement. We can also provide Christmas trees and decorations on request.
There are many festive activities throughout November and December in Cheltenham and Gloucestershire, with something to suit all interests.