Things to Do in Cheltenham at Christmas
Our ‘festival town’ boasts a year-round calendar of events – and that includes plenty of things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas too. A wonderful time of year when the town’s streets come alive with the sound of Christmas melodies and the activity of festive shoppers, it has something for everyone.
If you’re ready to embrace the Yuletide season, take a peek at our guide of things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas and look forward to an array of activities and events this year.
Cheltenham Christmas Launch
Launching the region’s programme of things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas is the Cheltenham Christmas Launch on Thursday 16th November 2023. Starting at 4pm and running until 7pm, this seasonal spectacular promises a line-up of family-friendly shows that feature everything from live singing to ice skating. Head over to be entertained by Christmas choirs, dancers, Bristol Figure Skaters, juggling elves, stilt-walking angels and more and peruse the array of market stalls laden with gifts and goodies. In a luminous crescendo, the event will culminate in the town’s annual Christmas lights switch on, with thousands of twinkling lights turning on throughout the town centre.
Santa Express with GWSR
If you are looking for memorable things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas, then why not consider a festive ride on the Santa Express by Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Steam Railway? Starting on 25th November and running until 23rd December, this seasonal service invites you to take an unforgettable journey on your own polar express as you travel from Cheltenham Racecourse Station all the way to the ‘North Pole’ (aka Winchcombe Station). Here, you will be able to alight your train and wander through a themed winter wonderland to meet Santa on his sleigh. Photos with the man himself are optional, but festive good times are guaranteed for all generations.
What better way to make Christmas memories than by skating at Cheltenham Ice Rink? Offering one of the best things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas, this family-friendly ice rink will be open from Friday 17th November 2023 to Monday 1st January 2024. Found within Imperial Gardens in the heart of the town, it takes pride of place in the site of the town’s historic Winter Garden and former indoor roller-skating rink and provides a nostalgia-fuelled experience for visitors and locals alike. Set beneath a covered ceiling, this all-weather ice rink has capacity for more than a hundred skaters and is open come rain, shine, or snow.
Enchanted Light Trail at Cotswold Farm Park
Owned by BBC’s Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, the 1,600-acre Cotswold Farm is a popular attraction throughout the year. Hosting one of the top things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas, it is extra special during this festive time and this year plans to wow visitors with its own Enchanted Light Trail. Running on select weekends and dates throughout November and December 2023, this after-dark special comprises illuminated trails that weave around the farm, complemented by magical creations and installations along the way. Book tickets ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
Cheltenham Christmas Markets
Cheltenham is renowned for its markets that take place each year. Boasting not one, not two but an entire catalogue of Christmas markets across the Regency town and its event venues, it affords some of the best things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas for gift shoppers and festivity seekers. Among the list of Christmas markets to visit include Cheltenham Christmas Gift Market located along The Promenade from 16th to 19th November; Cheltenham’s Christmas Craft Festival in Imperial Square from 17th to 19th November 2023; and Cheltenham Christmas Arts & Crafts Market from 14th to 23rd December 2023, also held along The Promenade.
Spectacle of Light at Sudeley Castle
Sudeley Castle’s Spectacle of Light is always one of the best things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas. Now in its eighth year, the event sees the castle’s grounds transform into a winter wonderland with a night-time illuminated trail. Always captivating, each year the event is inspired by a different theme, with this year seeing characters from the Wonderful Wizard of Oz take to the grounds in festive style. Stroll along the yellow-brick road and drink in the ambience, looking out for the Light Wave on the Mulberry Lawn, Fire Flowers in the Queen’s Garden, columns of light in front of the Castle, mesmeric water features, lanterns and much, much more. To add to the Christmas spirit, there will also be delicious vats of creamy hot chocolate and spiced mulled wine, as well as hot food and treats, ready to keep you warm and fuelled in the chilly winter air.
For many, a Christmas pantomime is one of the unmissable things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas. Fortunately, if you can’t complete your festive foray without a spot of theatre, then you’re in luck. Held in the town’s famous Everyman Theatre on Regent Street, the classic tale of Mother Goose is set to take to the stage from 24th November 2023 to 7th January 2024. With ample opportunity to secure yourself a ticket and head over to see the show, you are invited to sit back and be thoroughly entertained by dazzling costumes, stunning sets, lots of live music and a troupe of wonderfully talented performers.
Pittville Pump Room Lights Switch On
Cheltenham is one of the best places in the country to spend Christmas, offering a huge array of events and activities. Adding even more fun things to do to the equation, the Grade I listed Pittville Pump Room (the last and largest spa building to be built in Cheltenham) is hosting its very own Christmas lights switch on. Taking place on Saturday 25th November from 3pm to 7pm, the event beckons with trays of mulled wine and mince pies, live performances, Santa meet and greets and, of course, the main event of the light switch on itself.
Stay at The Cotswold Grange Hotel
Looking to make your Christmas break even more special? One of the very best things to do in Cheltenham at Christmas is to relax, recharge and soak up the festive atmosphere from the comfort of a luxury hotel. A short distance from Cheltenham’s Christmas markets and activities, our beautiful Cotswold Grange Hotel offers the most magical retreat with the highest standards and warmest welcome. Book your room today.