Sunshine, honey-stone villages, lush gardens, trickling rivers and a cold drink in a pub beer garden – there aren’t many places better than the Cotswolds to spend your summer. And whether the weather is sunny or not there’s plenty to do in the Cotswolds in summer – from festivals and events to day trips, walking trails, film screenings and even a day on the beach. So to help you plan the next few months, here are 25 of our top things to do in summer 2022 in the Cotswolds.
25 things to do in the Cotswolds in summer
The great outdoors
1. Photograph a flower field
With their rows of colourful blooms stretching as far as the eye can see, flower fields are one of the top photo opportunities in the Cotswolds in summer. Best known are the purple-hued fields of Cotswold Lavender near Snowshill, which are open from 15 June–7 August in 2022. But there are also the confetti fields at the Real Flower Petal Confetti Co in Worcestershire (open 1–10 July) and the sunflower fields at Cotswold Farm Park (open 15–29 August).
2. Go on a Sudeley Sculpture Safari
After the grounds of Sudeley Castle were invaded by a heard of elephants last spring, they’re back again this year and have brought a few more animal friends with them. The Sudeley Sculpture Safari celebrates creatures great and small until 30 October, with life-sized animal sculptures of rhinos, kangaroos, camels and orangutans, made using natural materials like pampas grass, bark and flowers to help spread a message of peaceful coexistence with nature.
3. Become an Arboretum Apprentice
With hundreds of tree and plant species from around the world, Westonbirt Arboretum near Tetbury is a great place to admire some colourful blooms during the summer months. And this year they’re also holding a series of Arboretum Apprentice summer activities. Designed for children aged seven and over and their families, the events give them a taster of different careers within forestry – from arborist and woodland ecologist to community officer.
4. Take a walk on the Cotswold Way
The 102-mile route of the Cotswold Way National Trail is one of the most beautiful long-distance walking paths in the country, running between Chipping Campden and Bath past castles and country houses, churches and abbey ruins, scenic viewpoints and historic towns.
You don’t have to commit to the full distance though, as there are plenty of shorter stretches which give you a taste of the Cotswold Way. We picked eight of our favourite circular walks along the Cotswold Way from 2.5 to 6 miles, but you can also choose a linear stretch between two towns or villages and take public transport or a taxi back to your starting point.
5. Enjoy an outdoor film screening
Watch a film under the stars this summer at an outdoor film screening in some of the area’s most spectacular venues. The Alfresco Film Co are hosting screenings of films including Jurassic Park, Mamma Mia, Jaws and Grease between June and September. Their Cotswold venues include Cowley Manor hotel, Cirencester Park, Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham, Cotswold Country Park and Beach and The Amphitheatre at Berrybank Park near Stow-on-the-Wold.
Luna Cinema are also showing The Greatest Showman (12 July) and Dirty Dancing (13 July) among the trees at Westonbirt Arboretum, and West Side Story (16 September) and Moulin Rouge (17 September) on the lawn in front of Bath’s historic Royal Crescent.
6. Hit the beach at the Cotswold Country Park
The Cotswolds might not have the sea, but it does have the UK’s largest inland beach. The Cotswold Country Park and Beach lies just south of Cirencester, set among 40 square miles of lakes in the Cotswold Water Park. As well as building sandcastles on the beach, you can paddle or take a dip in the freshwater lake, with a special lagoon for kids. There are also watersports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, and the AquaVenture inflatable waterpark.
7. Take a dip in a lido
Another way to enjoy an al fresco dip this summer in the Cotswolds is to head to one of the area’s outdoor swimming pools – which are heated to around 23°C in case the weather isn’t so summery. There’s been a lido in Cheltenham’s Sandford Park since 1935, with a 50-metre main pool plus a children’s pool and paddling pool. There’s also the 25-metre pool at Chipping Norton Lido, surrounded by gardens for picnicking, and Cirencester Open Air Swimming Pool.
8. Try a local ice cream
For an ice cream with a view, head to Winstones Cotswold Ice Cream Parlour on the edge of Rodborough Common, just south of Stroud. This National Trust common is home to grazing cattle, butterflies and wildflowers, with views over the Stroud Valley and Severn Estuary. There are 17 different ice cream flavours available each day, including two dairy-free options, with favourites like salted caramel, rhubarb and custard, and blackberries and cream.
9. Paddle in the river at Bourton-on-the-Water
Cool off with a paddle in the River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water. This shallow river runs right through the centre of the village, and is crossed over by five stone bridges. The water is refreshingly cool on a hot day, though Bourton is popular spot so you’ll find more space away from the centre of the village. And if you visit on August Bank Holiday you can watch the annual river football match, where two teams battle it out for glory in a very wet game.
Festivals and events
10. The Cotswold Olimpick Games
One of the Cotswolds’ quirkiest events, the Olimpick Games take place on 3 June 2022 on Dover’s Hill, just outside Chipping Campden. The games date back to 1612 when Robert Dover had the idea for an Olympics-style sporting competition, and were revived in the 1960s. Events are a bit different to the real Olympics, and include shin-kicking, tug ‘o war and hammer throwing. Then it all ends with fireworks and a torchlight procession into Chipping Campden.
11. Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta
Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta is back for a third year, with colourful hot air balloons filling the skies above Cheltenham Racecourse on 17 and 18 June. The event starts with fireworks and illuminated balloons on Friday night before the Big Balloon Fiesta on Saturday. As well as balloons there’s also a funfair, circus workshops, birds of prey, live entertainment and a music stage.
12. Battle Proms at Blenheim Palace
The Battle Proms picnic concerts combine music and military history in a celebration of all things British. This year’s event at Blenheim Palace takes place on 2 July, with battle reenactments from the Napoleonic cavalry and parachute displays from the Red Devils, a music performance including a Spitfire flypast and over 200 cannons, and a giant firework display over the palace.
13. 2000 Trees Festival
2000 Trees is an independent music festival held at Upcote Barn in Withington, just outside Cheltenham. It has a relaxed feel, with many people camping on site for the three days to see more than 130 rock and indie bands play across five stages, as well as comedy, a silent disco and stalls selling food and locally produced ciders, ales and lagers. This year’s festival takes place on 7–9 July, with a lineup which includes Jimmy Eat World, Idles, Thrice and Turnstile.
14. The Royal International Air Tattoo
Taking place on 15–17 July at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, the Royal International Air Tattoo is the world’s largest military air show. Fast jets, giant transporters and historic aircraft from around the world take to the skies. While on the ground you can try flight simulators in the Techno Zone, meet air crews in the RAF Experience and shop the Vintage Village.
15. Glamping at Cotswold Farm Park
The Cotswold Farm Park is one of the region’s most popular family attractions, and during the summer you can stay on site in their Strawberry’s Field Glamping site (named after one of the resident cows). From 1 to 28 August, a village of 16 ‘festival-themed’ luxury bell tents is set up at the park, each sleeping up to five people, with real beds and UBS power banks.
16. Broadway Car Show
Car fans flock to the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds in summer for the Broadway Car Show on 13 and 14 August. On the Saturday the focus is on modern supercars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins. And on Sunday it’s on classic and vintage sports cars from the 1900s to 1960s. There’s also a car parade through the village, food on the green and live music.
17. The Big Feastival
The Big Feastival – celebrating music and food – also returns from 26–28 August at former Blur star Alex James’ Farm near Kingham. You can go for the day, weekend or camp on site, with The Human League, Stereophonics and Anne-Marie headlining on the music stage this year. There are also cooking demos from celebrity chefs and lots of kid-friendly activities.
18. Moreton-in-Marsh Show
The traditional Moreton-in-Marsh agricultural show takes place on 3 September this year at the town’s showground. Describing itself as a ‘day of farming, food and family fun’, it’s one of the UK’s biggest agricultural shows. There are displays of livestock, horse shows, produce, crafts and baking in the Home and Garden marquee and lots of shopping opportunities.
History and heritage
19. Ride the Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway
Take a ride on board a stream train on the Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway this summer. This volunteer-run heritage railway travels between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, running through stunning Cotswold scenery. You can get a Day Rover ticket which lets you travel on the line all day and stop off at Cheltenham, Winchcombe, Toddington or Broadway.
20. Try archery at Berkeley Castle
Berkeley Castle, located just west of the Cotswolds, is an ancient fortress that’s been in the Berkeley family since the 12th century. As well as exploring the castle and gardens, there are also a series of special family-friendly events running between 25 July and 31 August 2022. Every Monday you can try out archery on the bowling green and watch archery displays. And on Wednesdays you learn about Tudor animals, medicine and everyday life with the Zoolab.
21. Explore a historic house and garden
The Cotswolds is full of beautiful historic properties, and summer is a great time to visit to see their gardens in full bloom. Among the highlights are the Arts and Crafts-inspired Hidcote Manor Garden and Kiftsgate Court Gardens, both near Chipping Campden, Prior Park Landscape Garden near Bath, and the charming organic cottage gardens at Snowshill Manor.
For something a bit different, visit the quirky Indian-style Sezincote House and Gardens near Moreton-in-Marsh. Also nearby is Bourton House Garden which is now open for the summer months, as are the romantic, tucked-away Cerney House Gardens just north of Cirencester.
Food and drink
22. Feast your way around a food festival
Eat, drink and be merry at a food festival in the Cotswolds this summer, which combine cooking demos, wine tastings and street food stalls with live music, theatre and kids activities. There’s the Great British Food Festival at Sudeley Castle (18–19 June), Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival (24–26 June) and Cotswold Show and Food Festival in Cirencester Park (2–3 July).
23. Have a picnic with a view
Gather together some of Cotswolds’ tasty local produce and head to one of the area’s scenic viewpoints for a picnic. Some of our favourite hilltop picnic spots include Leckhampton Hill and Crickley Hill Country Park south of Cheltenham. Or head to the highest point in the Cotswolds at Cleeve Hill. You’ll also find great views of the region from Painswick and Harefield Beacons, the Broadway Tower, Selsey Common and the Tyndale Monument.
24. Taste wine at Woodchester Valley Vineyard
Woodchester Valley Vineyard near Stroud brings a taste of the South of France to the Cotswolds this summer with rows of grapes ripening in the sunshine. The family-run vineyard produces white, rosé and sparkling wines, and you can learn how it’s made and try some on a tour and tasting. As well as regular tours they also offer a Wednesday ‘tour and lunch’ with a locally sourced picnic lunch plus occasional events like afternoon tea and Friday Fizz & Chips.
25. Raise a glass at Charlbury Beer Festival
Finally, the last of of our highlights of the Cotswolds in summer is the Charlbury Beer Festival on 25 June. This is the 24th annual beer festival, which features around 50 real ales as well as ciders, perries and wines, all accompanied by food stalls, live music, performances and talks, children’s entertainment and the World Aunt Sally Singles Championships.