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Christmas events in the North Cotswolds you don't want to miss (2023 update)

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

The Cotswolds is undoubtedly one of the finest places in the UK to celebrate Christmas. The quaintness of famous, honey-coloured villages and market towns gets turned up to the maximum as everything gets dressed up in Christmas trees, fairy lights and illuminating decorations. It really feels like you are on a Christmas movie set and brings back nostalgic memories of childhood excitement.

Houses and cottages alongside the river lit up and decorated for Christmas
Picture postcard Cotswold's village Bourton-on-the-Water

If you are considering visiting the Cotswolds in December, think no further! You will be spoiled with a wide range of Christmas activities taking place in the area. Here is a short list of festive events coming up in The North Cotswolds.

If you’ve never seen Bourton-on-the-Water’s Floating Christmas Tree, this is your chance! The Tree will be lit up on the last weekend of November and will stay until Epiphany. All the shops, museums and eateries are getting decorated in fairy lights too, so it is definitely worth a visit.

Giant lit up Christmas tree in the middle of the river in the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water
The Floating Christmas Tree

One of the most popular Christmas events in the North Cotswolds is probably Broadway's Late-Night Christmas shopping (Friday, 24th November and Friday, 1st December 2023). The evening is filled with Christmas festivities, street entertainers, live music performances, mulled wine and lots of atmosphere! The shops stay open from 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm.

Top tip: park at one of the Pay and Display village car parks. Pay Machines accept coins (bring £4) or pay by phone (which is unreliable). Alternatively, you can download the RingGo app for payment. The app will ask you to register with your mobile number. For anyone with a non-UK number, use the format 00yourcountrycodeyourmobilenumber.

Moreton-in-Marsh Christmas Lights & Market takes place this year on Saturday, 25th November from 10:00 am. Enjoy browsing over 70 stalls, carol singing starting at 4:30 pm and refreshments all day round. The lights switch on at 5:00 pm.

Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park presents a double dose of Christmas magic in 2023 as Father Christmas arrives in his Cotswold residence for Christmas on the Farm, along with the return of the Enchanted Light Trail.

Christmas on the Farm includes private and personalised meetings with Father Christmas in his Grotto, Gingerbread biscuits decorating with Mrs Claus, a Teddy bear making at the Elves Workshop and meeting and greeting the animals around the farm.

Enchanted Light Trail will take visitors on a captivating journey of stunning light displays and magical installations. Along the way, trailgoers will have the chance to meet and feed the farm’s adorable animals as their barns come alive with glistening decorations. The Farm Park’s popular Indoor Play Barn will be transformed into a winter wonderland where visitors can enjoy a festive beverage and satisfy their taste buds with gooey and chocolatey roasted S’mores, which they can roast themselves over a warming Fire Pit, along with seasonal snacks, such as Pigs in Blankets. As visitors explore the trail they will discover a series of enchanting selfie stations, allowing them to capture their own precious festive memories.

Christmas on the Farm and Enchanted Light Trail can be enjoyed separately or combined on selected dates from Friday, 24th November until 23rd December (Christmas on the Farm) and 31st December (Enchanted Light Trail ) from 4:00 pm to 9:00 pm.

Top tip: book your tickets in advance online. Wrap up warm and wear weatherproof footwear.

Another Enchanted Woodland illuminated trail not to miss – at Westonbirt Arboretum (24th November – 23rd December on selected dates from 4:00 pm – 9:30 pm). Twinkling lights, sparkling illuminations and magical creatures! Christmas Village will be open from 4:00 pm – 9:00 pm.

Top tip: arrive well before your pre-booked time slot and enjoy Christmas choirs and bands performing seasonal favourites, get into the mood with some mulled wine and festive food.

Winchcombe Christmas Festival returns in 2023 as a two-day event. On Friday, 8th December from 5:00 pm until 9:00 pm the whole town will be packed with the atmosphere: over 70 Christmas trees will be lit up, 40 market stalls selling gifts and festive food, late night shopping, carol singing and live music to get visitors in the Christmas spirit. On Saturday, 9th December, the Christmas Market continues on North Street with festive singers and street performances from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Brass band in Winchcombe

The Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle near Winchcombe is a very popular after-dark experience for the whole family. It takes place from 24th November until 30th December with the first entry at 4:45 pm. Visitors can enjoy the castle gardens beautifully illuminated and turned into a Magical Wonderland - this year it's the Wonderful Wizard of Oz! Meet Dorothy, Toto, Tinman, Scarecrow, Lion and the Wicked Witch as they approach the Emerald City. Light Curve and the flickering flames of the Queen's garden; sparkling water features and the mesmerising Carpet of Colour. Mulled wine, festive takeaway hot food and treats, gift shop.

Top tip: book your tickets in advance online. Hurry, tickets sell fast!

Sudeley Castle and gardens illuminated in hundreds of lights
Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle

Cheltenham will be bringing Christmas cheer twice this year! There will be not one but two Christmas Markets held in the centre of the town. The first will be a Christmas Gift Market, taking place from 16th to 19th November. Visitors can browse a selection of retail gifts such as homewares and food & drink. Market stalls will run along the pedestrianised Promenade and Long Gardens in front of the Municipal Office. The second will be the traditional Arts & Crafts Christmas Market, taking place on the Promenade from 14th to 23rd December. Local traders and creators will demonstrate their fantastic homemade crafts such as pottery, original art, glassware, jewellery and much more.

Christmas stall in Cheltenham

The Cheltenham Ice Skating Rink will return from Friday, 17th November 2023 to Monday, 1st January 2024. The rink is located in the Imperial Gardens, in the heart of regency Cheltenham reflecting the town’s historic Winter Gardens and indoor skating rink that once occupied a site in the gardens. The modern-day version is covered, making it Gloucestershire’s only all-weather ice rink. We recommend pre-booking your tickets to avoid disappointment.

If horse racing takes your fancy, there are two fabulous racing meets taking place at Cheltenham Racecourse, the home of Jump Racing, over the festive season - The Christmas Meeting, on 15th and 16th December, and of course the very popular New Year’s Day Raceday.

If you are staying at Graziers Cottage, don't miss Stratford-upon-Avon's Victorian Christmas Market which is recognised as the 'Best Large Specialty Market' at the Great British Market Awards. It takes approx. 30 min car journey to get there, but this Christmas Market you won't forget! It will take you on a captivating journey through time. The historic streets of Stratford-upon-Avon will be transformed into a festive wonderland packed with more than 300 stalls selling gifts and festive treats. Traders dressed in authentic Victorian costumes will create that nostalgic atmosphere of the past.

The Market will be open on the following dates:

  • Thursday, 7th December (12:00 pm to 8:00 pm)

  • Friday, 8th December (10:00 am to 8:00 pm)

  • Saturday, 9th December (10"00 am to 8:00 pm)

  • Sunday, 10th December (10:00 am to 5:00 pm)

There are lots of Christmas Carol concerts, Santa’s Grottos, pantos etc., in the area which are impossible to fit within this article.

House and cottages decorated and illuminated for Christmas
Who is for a giant Christmas present?

If you wish to find out about other Christmas events in the North Cotswolds or need help in planning your visit, we are happy to help, just drop us a line by email at the bottom of the page.



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