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The best time to visit the Cotswolds: A month-by-month guide

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 best time to visit the Cotswolds: A month-by-month guide
Thatched cottage in Taynton

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.

Warming up by the fire at a cosy pub in the Cotswolds in January
Warming up by the fire

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.

Snow in Cheltenham in the Cotswolds in January
Snow in Cheltenham

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 Corinium Museum in Cirencester in the Cotswolds in February
Mosaics in the Corinium Museum

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, Rodmarton Manor and Cerney House Gardens.

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 Dormy House, Calcot & Spa or Cowley Manor.

Snowdrop flowers in the Cotswolds in February
Snowdrops blooms

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.

Wild garlic in Dyrham Woods in the Cotswolds in March
Wild garlic in Dyrham Woods

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.

Afternoon tea in the Cotswolds in March
Afternoon tea

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.

Blossom in Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds in April
Blossom in Bourton

April is 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.

Easter eggs in the Cotswolds in April
Easter eggs

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.

Bluebells in the Cotswolds in May
Bluebells along the Cotswold Way

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.

Bibury in the Cotswolds in May
Not-too-busy Bibury

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.

Cotswold Lavender fields in the Cotswolds in June
Cotswold Lavender

One of the area’s most photogenic attractions, 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, with Virgin Balloon Flights flying from Bath, Cheltenham and Oxford

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.

Views from Dovers Hill in the Cotswolds in June
Views from Dover’s Hill

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.

The lesser-known village of Chedworth in the Cotswolds in July
The lesser-known village of Chedworth

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, Cotswold Show, music festivals and outdoor film and theatre.

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.

Summer pub lunch in the Cotswolds in July
Summer pub lunch

The Cotswolds in August

August is still peak season in the Cotswolds, when the region’s 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 occasional 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.

Glamping tents in the Cotswolds in August
Glamping tents

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.

Bourton-on-the-Water in the Cotswolds in August

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.

Walking the Cotswold Way in the Cotswolds in September
Walking 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 event. Or celebrate all things Jane Austen and dress up in period costume for the Regency parade at Bath’s Jane Austen Festival.

Historic Bath in the Cotswolds in September
Historic Bath

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.

Autumn leaves at Batsford Arboretum in the Cotswolds in November
Autumn leaves at Batsford Arboretum

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.

Cheltenham Literature Festival in the Cotswolds in October
Cheltenham Literature Festival

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 Tetbury, Chipping Campden and at Bath and Cheltenham Racecourses.

Hot chocolate in the Cotswolds in November
Hot chocolate

You can also keep warm with a night at the cinema. There’s the boutique Everyman Cinema in Cheltenham, Electric Picture House in Wotton-under-Edge and The Living Room in Chipping Norton. Plus Barnsley House Hotel has its own private cinema which hosts movie nights.

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.

Castle Combe in the Cotswolds in November
Castle Combe in winter

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.

Cheltenham Christmas market in the Cotswolds in December
Cheltenham Christmas market

You can also travel across the Cotswolds by vintage train on board the Gloucestershire–Warwickshire Steam Railway’s Santa Express. Or follow Christmas light trails through stately homes and gardens, including Sudeley Castle, Westonbirt Arboretum and Blenheim Palace.

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.

Sudeley Castle Christmas light trail in the Cotswolds in December
Sudeley Castle Christmas light trail

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Discover the best time to visit the Cotswolds with a month-by-month guide to Cotswold weather, what's on and how busy it is to help you choose when to visit | When to visit the Cotswolds | Cotswolds weather | Best time of year to visit the Cotswolds | Best month to visit the Cotswolds

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Friday 6th of October 2023

Hello, my husband and I considering a visit to Bath and the Cotswolds this November. We're trying to avoid renting a car since we're not used to driving on the left side of the road, so we were looking into day tours from Bath to see a few villages in the Cotswolds. However, we see that most tours are not available in November except private tours which are too expensive for us. Do you think this is because it's low season, or is this an indication that it's not a good idea to visit the Cotswold in November? I appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you!

Lucy Dodsworth

Monday 9th of October 2023

Hi Jill, this post might be useful if you are going to be based in Bath – Bath isn't the easiest place to visit the main Cotswold villages (Bourton, Stow, etc) from as it's so far south and there aren't many group tours available. November is fairly low season too so even less tours will be running. But if you look at the post above though it does show how you can visit some Cotswold villages via bus/train independently if you don't want to drive.

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