Spring wildflowers and walks, summer sunshine and pub lunches, autumn leaves and log fires, winter snow and Christmas lights – the Cotswolds has something to offer all year round. But what is the best time to visit the Cotswolds? Each month has its different pros and cons, so it will depend what you’re looking for. Our guide takes you through the Cotswolds’ weather month-by-month as well as what’s on to help you choose the best month to visit the Cotswolds.
The Cotswolds in January
After the Christmas and New Year festivities are over, January is one of the quietest times in the Cotswolds, so is perfect for a peaceful, relaxing break. There are lots of Cotswold cottages with wood-burners to cosy up in, and as January is low season you can often bag a bargain stay.
January sees average daytime high temperatures of 6ºC (43ºF) and nighttime lows of 1ºC (34ºF). There are often crisp, clear days which are great for a winter walk. And the clear skies and long nights – with only eight hours of daylight at this time of year – are also good for stargazing.
There’s plenty of time to warm up in one of the Cotswolds’ country pubs, with roasts, stews and soups on the menu. Most pubs stay open year-round but hours may be limited off-season.
January and February are also the best chance to see snow in the Cotswolds – though it’s not guaranteed. The aptly named village of Snowshill is often the first place to see snowfall. And if you do get more than a flurry, our top sledging spots include Crickley, Cleeve and Leckhampton Hills, Minchinhampton and Rodborough Commons, and Cirencester Amphitheatre.
The Cotswolds in February
February’s temperatures are similar to January’s, with average highs of 7ºC (45ºF) and lows of 2ºC (36ºF), though there’s usually a bit more rainfall so pack a raincoat and umbrella.
If the weather’s not looking good, there are plenty of museums around the Cotswolds where you can hide from the showers. You can find out about Roman history at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester, or Arts and Crafts design at Chipping Campden’s Court Barn Museum, visit the Cotswold Motoring Museum in Bourton-on-the-Water or Holst Victorian House in Cheltenham.
The first snowdrops peeking out from the ground in February are a sign that spring is getting near. You can see swathes of them at Colesbourne Park – known as England’s greatest snowdrop garden – as well as at Painswick Rococo Garden and Rodmarton Manor.
And Valentine’s Day this month is a good excuse to splurge on a romantic stay in one of the Cotswolds’ luxurious spa hotels, like Barnsley House, Dormy House or Calcot Manor.
The Cotswolds in March
Spring is well and truly on its way in March, when the countryside starts to wake up after its winter hibernation. The weather can be a bit hit and miss though, with everything from sunshine to snow showers. Average high temperatures lie around 10ºC (50ºF) and lows around 3ºC (37ºF).
The turning of the season sees new signs of life, with the smell of wild garlic filling the woods. Look out for its distinctive long, pointed leaves and white flowers – our top foraging spots are Newark Park, Prior Park and Dowdeswell Woods if you want to try your hand at making wild garlic pesto.
A stream of racegoers head to Cheltenham for Race Week this month, which ends with one of the biggest racing events of the year, the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The town is heaving, with pop up bars and special race breakfasts. But otherwise March in the Cotswolds is still fairly quiet.
It’s also Mother’s Day in March, so why not treat your mum to afternoon tea at one of the Cotswold hotels? The Painswick, Whatley Manor and Ellenborough Park all put on an impressive spread.
The Cotswolds in April
In April the days start to get longer and the Cotswolds begins to warm up, with average highs of 13ºC (55ºF) and lows of 3ºC (40ºF). There are usually some lovely sunny spring days that are good for walking, but the ground can be quite muddy – and watch out for April showers.
The Cotswolds starts to bloom in April, with wildflowers, blossom and daffodils all on display, so its a good time to visit the Cotswolds if you’re a garden lover. You can see colourful cherry tree blossoms at Batsford Arboretum or just outside of the Cotswolds on the Evesham Blossom trail.
April’s the month for coming out of hibernation, when some Cotswold attractions open up for the season and others extend their opening hours as visitor numbers start to rise.
Easter usually takes place during April, and the Easter school holidays can be very busy. There are lots of family-friendly events put on like Easter egg hunts at National Trust properties, spring lambing and kidding at the Cotswold Farm Park and baby chicks hatching at Birdland.
The Cotswolds in May
May is usually one of the drier months in the Cotswolds, with temperatures warming up to an average of 15ºC (59ºF) by day and 6ºC (43ºF) by night. As the ground dries out the conditions are perfect for walking, with guided walks at the annual Winchcombe Walking Festival.
You can see carpets of bluebells lining the forest floor around the Cotswolds this month. One of our favourite bluebell walks is the 1.75-mile circular Wildlife Walk at Foxholes Nature Reserve on the River Evenlode near Kingham. And May is also ‘wisteria hysteria’ season, and you can see these Instagrammable purple flowers draped over the front of buildings in Broadway.
It’s usually not too busy in the Cotswolds in May – excluding May half-term – so it’s a good time to visit the more popular spots like Bibury or Bourton-on-the-Water before they’re too packed.
May is also the month for a couple of the Cotswolds’ weird and wonderful traditions. First there’s the Tetbury Woolsack Races, where competitors race up the town’s steepest street carrying a 60-pound sack of wool. And then there’s the cheese-rolling on Cooper’s Hill at May Bank Holiday, with daredevil participants speeding down a steep hill to catch a Double Gloucester cheese.
The Cotswolds in June
By June the summer is on its way, with the summer solstice towards the end of the month marking the longest day of the year, with 16.5 hours of daylight. June sees average daytime high temperatures of 18ºC (43ºF), nighttime lows of 9ºC (48ºF) and around 190 hours of sunshine.
It’s a good time to visit the Cotswolds if you don’t have kids and aren’t tied to the school holidays as the weather is lovely and there’s a lot on, but it isn’t as busy and expensive as July/August.
One of the Cotswolds’ most photogenic attractions, the Cotswold Lavender fields near Snowshill opens to visitors in June to explore the fields and buy lavender plants and products. It’s also a good time for a hot air balloon ride, or watch them take over the skies for Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta.
June is also when the Cotswold Olimpick Games are held. The games date back to 1612 when Robert Dover had the idea for an Olympics-style sporting competition. Today they take place on Dover’s Hill near Chipping Camden, with quirky events like a tug of war and shin-kicking.
The Cotswolds in July
July is the sunniest month in the Cotswolds, with long days and average highs of 22ºC (72ºF) and lows of 13ºC (55ºF). Weather-wise it’s the best time to visit the Cotswolds. But the downside is the crowds. The school holidays are peak season for UK and international visitors, which means busy roads, lack of parking spaces, crowded villages and expensive accommodation.
To avoid the worst of summer in the Cotswolds, visit some of the lesser-known spots as well as the big names, book well in advance and make reservations for pubs and restaurants.
July is a great time to get out into the countryside and go walking, have a picnic at a scenic viewpoint or spend the afternoon in a pub beer garden. There are also lots of events like the Royal International Air Tattoo, 2000 Trees music festival and outdoor film screenings.
The lavender fields are still open during July, but you can also see beautiful blooms at the confetti fields near Evesham and the wildflower fields at the Cotswold Farm Park this month.
The Cotswolds in August
August is still peak season in the Cotswolds when the towns and villages are at their busiest. The temperatures are similar to July, with average high temperatures lying around 21ºC (70ºF) and lows around 12ºC (54ºF), but there can be some thundery downpours.
Summer is a good time for glamping in the Cotswolds. There are glamping sites all over the region, with shepherds’ huts, yurts, camping pods and cabins so you don’t have to rough it.
You can cool off at the Cotswold Water Park, which has the UK’s largest inland beach as well as an inflatable waterpark and watersports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. Or swim in the outdoor pools at the lidos in Cheltenham, Cirencester and Chipping Norton.
Another slightly stranger way the residents of Bourton-on-the-Water keep cool on the August Bank Holiday weekend is with a game of river football. This annual tradition sees two teams battle it out in the centre of the village, using the shallow River Windrush as a football pitch.
The Cotswolds in September
Things start to quieten down in the Cotswolds in September when the schools go back, so you don’t need to book so far in advance, towns and villages are less crowded, and prices start to fall.
This is probably our favourite time to visit the Cotswolds, when the weather’s sunny, there’s low rainfall, average highs of 18ºC (64ºF) and lows of 10ºC (50ºF). It’s ideal walking weather, whether you’re planning a short walk or want to take on the full 102-mile route of the Cotswold Way.
September is also harvest season, so look out for blackberries in the hedgerows along your walks. And there are farmers’ markets and harvest festivals which celebrate local produce, including the Moreton-in-Marsh Show, which is the biggest agricultural show in the UK.
You can explore buildings around the region which aren’t normally open to the public – from schools to stately homes – as part of the annual Heritage Open Days. Or celebrate all things Jane Austen and dress up in period costume for the Regency parade at Bath’s Jane Austen Festival.
The Cotswolds in October
Things are feeling a lot more autumnal in the Cotswolds by October, with misty mornings and nights drawing in. Temperatures are still mild with average highs of 14ºC (57ºF) and lows of 8ºC (46ºF), but there’s more cloud and a few more showers as October is the wettest month.
The scenery is gorgeous as the leaves start to turn red and gold. You can admire the colours at Westonbirt or Batsford Arboretums, or crunch through leaves and collect conkers on an autumn walk – Lineover Wood and Laurie Lee Wood are some of our favourite spots. And keep your eyes and ears out for deer as stags fight to impress female deer during the annual deer rut.
Halloween means pumpkin picking and spooky events. You can ghost hunt at some of the Cotswolds’ most haunted spots like Minster Lovell Hall, Woodchester Mansion and Prestbury village.
October is also the annual Cheltenham Literature Festival. It’s a great time to visit the town, with 10 days of talks, workshops and book signings. There’s a mix of paid and free events for adults and kids, featuring famous names in literature, film and TV, food, politics and sport.
The Cotswolds in November
The Cotswolds starts to get quiet in November as we enter the winter low season, so there are usually some good deals on hotels and holiday rentals. The weather gets colder and can be rainy, with average high temperatures of 9ºC (48ºF) and lows of 5ºC (41ºF), so pick somewhere cosy.
It’s the season to warm up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate or toast marshmallows over an open fire. There are also firework displays for Bonfire Night around 5th November, with events normally taking place in Stroud, Stow-on-the-Wold and Cheltenham Racecourse.
You can also keep warm with a night at the cinema. There’s the boutique Tivoli Cinema in Cheltenham and vintage Electric Picture House in Wotton-under-Edge, plus Barnsley House Hotel also has its own private cinema which hosts movie nights with dinner or afternoon tea.
And once you get towards the end of the month the Christmas events start up – late November is a good time to get in there before things get too busy if you’re keen to get into the festive spirit.
The Cotswolds in December
And finally we get to December and Christmas in the Cotswolds. It’s fairly chilly with high temperatures averaging 7ºC (45ºF) and lows 3ºC (37ºF), days are short and nights are long, with less than eight hours of daylight on the winter solstice towards the end of the month.
But there are lots of festive events in the Cotswolds to brighten things up. There are Christmas markets and late-night shopping, ice skating in Cheltenham’s Imperial Gardens, Christmas carol services, traditional pantomimes and the chance for kids to meet Father Christmas.
You can also travel across the Cotswolds by vintage steam train on the Gloucester-Warwickshire Steam Railway’s Santa Express. Or follow Christmas light trails through stately homes and gardens.
It can be busy in the Cotswolds in December, and you pay a premium to stay in the area over Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but if you want to splash out there are some fantastic hotels and luxury holiday rentals where you can celebrate the festive season and toast the New Year.
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