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25 of the best things to do in the Cotswolds in summer [2024]

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, outdoor 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 2024 in the Cotswolds.

25 things to do in the Cotswolds in summer

25 of the best things to do in the Cotswolds in summer
Upper Slaughter 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. The best known are the purple-hued fields of Cotswold Lavender near Snowshill, which are open from 14 June–4 August in 2024.

There are also the confetti fields at the Real Flower Petal Confetti Co in Worcestershire (late June–early July) and the wildflower and sunflower fields at Cotswold Farm Park (July–August).

Cotswold Lavender fields
Cotswold Lavender

2. Take a walk on the Cotswold Way

The 102-mile (164km) 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 available to 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 then take public transport or a taxi back to your starting point.

Walking along the Cotswold Way near Birdlip
Walking the Cotswold Way

3. 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 Mamma Mia!, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Top Gun, Wonka and E.T. between June and September. This year’s Cotswold venues are Cowley Manor and Ellenborough Park hotels and Cotswold Airport. And Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham is showing The Greatest Showman (31 August).

4. Or an al fresco theatre performance

As well as films, there are also outdoor theatre performances around the Cotswolds this summer. Shakespeare fans can choose from Hamlet at the Broadway Tower (6 June), A Comedy of Errors at Painswick Rococo Garden (4–6 July), Twelfth Night at Cerney House Gardens (2 August) and As You Like It at Sudeley Castle (18 August). And National Trust site Newark Park near Wotton-under-Edge hosts The Importance of Being Earnest (3 August) and Robin Hood (31 August).

The grounds of Sudeley Castle
The grounds of Sudeley Castle

5. Listen to music beneath the trees

Forest Live is an annual concert series, with live music performances in some of the UK’s most beautiful natural woodlands – including Westonbirt Arboretum. This year sees performances from Gregory Porter (4 July), Anne-Marie (5 July), The Corrs (6 July), Van Morrison (7 July) and Nile Rogers (12 July). And the proceeds go towards protecting forests for the future.

6. Admire the artworks at Cheltenham Paint Festival

Cheltenham Paint Festival is back for its seventh year from 27–28 July 2024, when you can watch national and international street artists at work creating giant murals on walls around the town. Or if you can’t make the festival, you can see the artworks throughout the summer, with a map on the festival website showing where you can see over 60 murals on a five-mile walking route.

Cheltenham Paint Festival mural
Cheltenham Paint Festival mural

Cool off

7. 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 south of Cirencester is set among 40 square miles of lakes in the Cotswold Water Park. As well as building sandcastles on the beach, you can swim, try watersports like kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, or visit the AquaVenture inflatable waterpark.

8. 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.

Sandford Parks Lido in Cheltenham
Cheltenham’s lido (photo © Sandford Parks Lido)

9. 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, and has 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 on the menu.

10. Paddle in the river at Bourton-on-the-Water

Cool off with a paddle in the shallow River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water, which runs right through the centre of the village. The water is refreshingly cool on a hot day, though it gets busy so you’ll find more space away from the village centre. And if you visit on August Bank Holiday you can watch the annual river football match, where two teams battle for glory in a very wet game.

The River Windrush in Bourton-on-the-Water
The River Windrush in Bourton

Festivals and events

11. Music festivals

We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to music festivals in the Cotswolds this summer, from big-name events to smaller community festivals. Whether you’re packing a tent and camping for the weekend or just visiting for the day, there’s plenty of music to enjoy including:

  • Wychwood Festival (31 May–2 June) at Cheltenham Racecourse, with circus skills, magic and yoga sessions alongside music from Sister Sledge, Texas and Ocean Colour Scene.
  • The non-profit Nibley Music Festival (5–7 July) hosts its last event after 16 years, featuring music from The Hoosiers, EMF and Dodgy as well as kids’ entertainment.
  • 2000 Trees (10–13 July) in Withington near Cheltenham has more than 130 rock and indie bands playing across five stages, comedy, a silent disco, family events and local food and drink.
  • Volunteer-run festival Chalfest (19–20 July) near Stroud has Gok Wan and Craig Charles headlining this year, along with craft and DJ workshops, bars, food trucks and markets.
  • Big Feastival (23–25 August) at former Blur star Alex James’ Farm near Kingham celebrates music and food, with cookery demos and performances by Snow Patrol and Becky Hill.
Crowds at the main stage at the 2000 Trees music festival
2000 Trees main stage (photo © 2000 Trees)

12. The Cotswold Olimpick Games

The Olimpick Games is one of the Cotswolds’ quirkiest events, taking place on 31 May 2024 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 though, including shin-kicking, tug ‘o war and hammer throwing. Then it ends with fireworks and a torchlit procession into Chipping Campden.

Dover's Hill, home of the Cotswold Olimpick Games
Dover’s Hill

13. Park Fair at Great Tew

Held on the Great Tew Estate Oxfordshire between 21–23 June, Park Fair is a boutique weekend festival with six arenas – shopping, feasting, glow ups, wellness, entertainment and family activities. There’s a focus on independent artisan brands, as well as delicious local food and drink, yoga and meditation sessions, classic fairground rides, live music and free children’s activities.

14. 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 6 July, with battle reenactments from the Napoleonic cavalry and parachute displays from the Red Devils, a music performance including a Spitfire flypast and 193 cannons, and a giant firework display over the palace.

Blenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace

15. The Cotswold Show

The Cotswold Show and Food Festival takes place on 6–7 July 2024 in Cirencester Park, part of the Bathurst Estate. This country fair features exciting events like motorcycle displays, Olympic dressage, falconry shows and a parachute display, alongside cookery and rural skills demonstrations, dog shows and hundreds of trade stands selling local food, drink, crafts and gifts.

16. Fantasy Forest Festival

The grounds of Sudeley Castle are transformed into a magical world for the Fantasy Forest Festival on 19–21 July. The festival includes all genres of fantasy, from sci-fi to steampunk, cosplay to comics. There are three stages dedicated to live music, a costume competition, games zone, circus skills workshops for kids and the UK’s largest fantasy market with over 100 stalls.

Fantasy Forest Festival at Sudeley Castle
Fantasy Forest Festival (photo © Mikal Ludlow Photography)

17. The Royal International Air Tattoo

Taking place on 19–21 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 take to the skies, including F-16 Fighting Falcons who celebrate their 50th anniversary. On the ground you can try flight simulators, meet air crews in the RAF Experience and shop the Vintage Village.

18. Broadway Car Show

Car fans flock to the village of Broadway in the Cotswolds in summer for the Broadway Car Show on 17 and 18 August 2024. On the Saturday the focus is on modern supercars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins and Porsches. And on Sunday it’s on classic and vintage sports cars from before 1980. There’s also a car parade through the village, food on the green and live music.

Red Arrows at the Royal International Air Tattoo
The Royal International Air Tattoo

History and heritage

19. Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

Go back in time to 1471 and experience the Battle of Tewkesbury on the site where it took place at Tewkesbury Medieval Festival on 13–14 July. It’s the largest free medieval gathering in Europe, with period music, drama, falconry displays and arts and craft sessions. It’s free to visit but there’s food and drink available to buy, including their own specially brewed medieval ale.

20. Ride on a steam train

Take a ride on board a stream train on the Gloucestershire–Warwickshire Steam Railway this summer. This volunteer-run heritage railway travels through stunning Cotswold scenery between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway. Get a Day Rover ticket to travel on the line all day, or join in their summer special events like the Real Ale Festival (14–16 June), Teddy Bear Thursdays (25 July, 1 and 8 August), and regular fish and chip suppers on board the Cheltenham Fryer.

GWSR steam train in Broadway
GWSR steam train in Broadway

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 region’s 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.

Snowshill Manor Gardens in the Cotswolds in summer
Snowshill Manor Gardens

Food and drink

22. Feast your way around Cheltenham food festival

Eat, drink and be merry at the Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival this summer, which takes place in Montpellier Gardens on 21–23 June. There are cooking demonstrations from chefs at local restaurants The Beefy Boys and Prithvi, wine tastings and cheese masterclasses alongside live music, street theatre, a dog show, kids’ entertainment and plenty of food and drink stalls.

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 summer picnic. Cleeve Hill is the highest point in the Cotswolds at 330 metres and has panoramic views across the Severn Vale towards Wales. More of our favourite Cotswold picnic spots include Leckhampton Hill and Crickley Hill Country Park near Cheltenham, Painswick and Harefield Beacons, the Broadway Tower, Selsey Common and the Tyndale Monument.

Views from Painswick Beacon in the Cotswolds in summer
Views from Painswick Beacon

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. This award-winning vineyard produces white, rosé and sparkling wines, and you can learn how it’s made and try some on a tour and tasting. Or there are regular events like afternoon tea, dog walks and Friday fizz and chips.

25. Raise a glass at a beer festival

The last of our highlights of the Cotswolds in summer is a beer festival, with two to choose from, both serving a wide range of real ales and craft beers. The Charlbury Beer Festival on 29 June includes the World Aunt Sally Singles Championships. And the Campaign for Real Ale’s Cotswold Beer Festival at Postlip Hall on 19–21 July features Morris dancers, brass bands and food trucks.

Cotswold beer festivals
Cotswold beer festivals

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25 of the best things to do in the Cotswolds in summer 2024: Enjoy festivals and events, day trips, pools and gardens this summer in the Cotswolds | Cotswolds in summer | Summer holidays in the Cotswolds | Things to do in the Cotswolds | What's on in the Cotswolds

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