Nows the time to kick-start holiday planning with a trip to the Cotswolds this Easter. Its less than two...
Christmas is better in the Cotswolds! If you’ve ever been to one of our festive markets, you’ll understand why. The atmosphere is utterly unbeatable, and we do Christmas with a traditional approach, so pretty lights and mince pies are always guaranteed. From shopping for beautiful handmade crafts and gifts to warming up those cold hands with a hot cup of mulled wine, there’s simply nothing better than a visit to our beautiful Cotswold towns and villages during the merry season.
Here is our guide to Christmas markets in the Cotswold area, including when to visit and where to stay for the perfect festive break.
Gloucester Quays Victorian Market
This is an award-winning Christmas market that everyone should visit at least once in their life. Its the citys longest running winter market, and also one of the biggest in the region. So if you want to make sure there’s plenty to do for the whole family, Gloucester is the place to be during the Christmas holidays. There are so many different stalls to choose from, plenty of street food to keep your bellies filled, and even an open air ice rink to get you in the festive mood. For superb views of the city and the market lit up with sparkling fairy lights at night, make sure you add the Ferris wheel to your Christmas market adventure.
When to go: From the end of November (until Christmas Eve)
Where to stay: Book a few cosy nights at Painswick
Chipping Campden Christmas Fair
If you want a traditional Christmas fair set in a quintessential English market town, be sure to add Chipping Campden to your festive travel bucket list. Throughout the year, Chipping Campden attracts tourists from all around who come to see its elegant terraced High Street and its many independent shops. This truly is a place where things are kept local and authentic in every way, including at Christmas time! The winter season here is fantastic, with its low key, small scale market which normally kicks off on the first Saturday of December. Get there early though, because you don’t want to miss the official lights switch-on. It’s a must attend event that marks the symbolic start of the yuletide period. Expect carol singers, local entertainment and a big Christmas tree extravaganza, as well as some fabulous stalls on launch day.
When to go: The first weekend of December
Where to stay: Stopover at Chipping Campden right in the heart of the action (recently refurbished inside).
Broadway Christmas Market
Another traditional event for vacationers in search of English tradition and fantastic light displays. This is a night time event which takes place after dark, so those pretty fairy lights will get you in the festive spirit. Shops will stay open especially late during this time and there will be Christmas stalls for shopping and crafts, live music and entertainment, food and tasty street eats, hot drinks such as mulled cider or mulled wine, and even pony sleigh rides for the little ones. Whilst Broadway is a small village, this event is pretty big in terms of how many people it attracts each year, with visitors travelling from all over to enjoy the magical market atmosphere.
Stay local and dont forget to stroll around in the daytime. There are many independent shops and galleries to check out, and the traditional architecture makes your visit all the more interesting.
When to go: The last Friday in November and the first Friday in December
Where to stay: Stay at the stunning Halfway House, located right on the High Street for easy access to events all winter.
Bath Christmas Market
This fantastic market is simply not to be missed if you’re in the Cotswolds this holiday season. This is more of a grand scale affair, usually with more than 200 stalls and chalets to choose from. You may need to check the market map to navigate this place, and theres fab entertainment around every corner. From soulful choirs and live musical performances to brass bands and fun storytelling, all ages will be catered for. Lights, wares and decorations line the citys historic streets and for food lovers, there’s classic mince pies and piping hot mulled wine as well as other modern treats to line your stomach. If youre hungry after a day of sightseeing, the Bath Christmas Market is the place to go!
With all the grand architecture, hidden squares and old cobbled streets, this historic city is perfect for keen photographers looking to capture some unique memories.
When to go: Normally from mid-late November to early-mid December.
Cirencester Christmas Market
There are many reasons why Cirencester Christmas Market is one of our favourites. Firstly, we feature many gorgeous holiday cottages in and around the town, and its a great central base to explore the rest of the Cotswold region. Secondly, Cirencester is incredibly easy to get to the train at Kemble is just an hours journey from the capital, and the town links all the main A roads. But more importantly, we love Cirencester at Christmas because of the amazing atmosphere, as locals come together to celebrate the happiest time of year. It all takes place at Market Place and West Market Place (located in the centre), and theres a large pedestrianised area made from beautiful York stone.
If youre here to shop, you will find everything from gourmet food and artisan produce to crafts, candles, wooden toys, jewellery and clothing. Theres even an antiques fair, so you can pick up a one of a kind piece.
When to go: From early December onwards.
Where to stay: Dont miss a beat by booking into our Castle Mews cottage which is right in the heart of the action, located just off Castle Street.
Bourton-on-the-Water Christmas Fayre
If you want a late night shopping extravaganza with a Christmassy atmosphere and beautiful lights, head over to the rural village of Bourton-on-the-Water. With the peaceful River Windrush and its low bridges, this is also a wonderful place to stay or visit in the daytime. Many tourists come here to see the traditional stone houses or go to the nearby attractions, such as the Model Village and Birdland Park and Gardens (both fantastic for children). In December, everyone comes together to witness the official Christmas lights switch-on and to soak up the festive atmosphere at the Christmas Fayre. The switch-on event is particularly special as the village Christmas tree sits in the middle of the river, surrounded by water. So the views are indeed unique.
Other fun things to do in the past have included childrens fairground rides, Punch & Judy shows, appearances from Santa Claus, and delicious food on sale such as hog roast.
When to go: Early December for one night only, until 9pm.
Where to stay: Check into one of our many Bourton-on-the-Water holiday homes, such as Pear Tree Cottage which sleeps up to 6 people and is located on a quiet lane but is close to amenities.
Winchcombe Christmas Festival
The town of Winchcombe is known for its fantastic festivals and events throughout the year, and Christmas time is no different. From the Festival of Music and Arts or the three day Walking Festival in May to the annual Winchcombe Country Show in August, theres always something to do here. And theres always a lively and colourful carnival atmosphere, which is amazing for those who have never visited! The Winchcombe Christmas Festival takes place in early December and promises to provide fun and entertainment for all ages. Come shopping for gifts, crafts and artisan products at the festivals many stalls, whilst enjoying carol singing and live music to get you in the Christmas spirit. And just like carnival fun youd expect of Winchcombe at any other time of year, therell be lots of entertainment including stilt walkers, jugglers, town criers, and more.
When to go: Traditionally held on the first Tuesday of December.
Where to stay: Stay at Miller’s Cottage (sleeps 4), set along a beautiful row of traditional stone cottages.
Cheltenham German Christmas Market
Another major market not to miss this Christmas and a great place to continue on the evening for a night out in the city. Situated in the beautiful setting of The Promenade and adorned by spectacular Christmas lights, Cheltenhams wonderful market brings together 40 chalets, each selling a range of quality gifts, crafts, food, snacks and drink. Its considered as one of the best Christmas markets in the country taking on the Bavarian theme, and you will be able to pick up some amazingly unique artisan items. This beloved event, which is enjoyed by locals and tourists alike, begins in late November, giving you plenty of time to pick up presents for loved ones. Therell be a nice winter BBQ to warm your boots, choirs and performances, and a chance to meet the animals or visit Santas Grotto for the kids.
When to go: From late November to mid-December time.
Stroud Christmas Farmers Markets
For guests who are in the market for some local produce (perhaps youre cooking up a family feast in your cottage or planning a party?), this is not to be missed. The festive Farmers Markets will take place in late December, in the run up to the 25th, and will be bursting with fantastic local produce. This ensures that locals and Christmas holiday makers alike will be getting the freshest and tastiest seasonal ingredients by Christmas Day or New Year.
Come here for the best free range turkeys, organic chicken, duck and other festive meats, huge sprout stalks, deliciously sweet parsnips and other veggies, a fantastic wine selection, real ale, and many other artisan products or food/drink from local vendors. This is the finest food market to stock up for your self-catering holiday.
When to go: In late December, in the run up to Christmas.
Where to stay: Stay in stunning Grade II listed Rose Tree Cottage near Bowbridge, just on the outskirts of Stroud.
Stroud Christmas Gift Markets
If it’s crafts and gifts you’re after whilst in Stroud, there are also a number of market days in December dedicated to just that. Find unique gifts, artisan products and thoughtful stocking fillers from local designers, artists and craftsmen. You can also pick up the most beautiful handmade Christmas cards, as well as traditional decorations for your home. If you’re a collector of unique handmade baubles and tree adornments, this is one of the best markets to come to at this time of year.
On the specified dates, the market normally runs from 9am to 4pm and will take place at Cornhill Market Place. Admission is free and you can call 01453 758060 to find out more information about this year’s events.
When to go: From mid-late December, in the lead up to Christmas Eve.
Where to stay: Relax at in nearby Painswick.
Moreton Christmas Market & Lights Switch On
Taking place on the High Street in Moreton-in-Marsh, this excellent market event includes the official lights switch-on, which draws crowds from all around. The event begins at 9am, but stick around for sundown as that’s when all the pretty lights come on for the very first time and there will even be an appearance from Santa Claus to entertain the little ones. More than 60 different stalls line the main street, and you will be able to pick up a selection of handmade goodies, arts and crafts, gifts, candles, jewellery and more. Of course, you wont go cold or hungry either as there’ll be plenty of hot drinks such as mulled wine and snacks on sale.
In past years, there have been appearances by Rudolph the mascot (selling raffle tickets), Christmas jumper competitions, and Santa’s Grotto.
Get in touch with us today to start planning your festive getaway to the Cotswolds.