The Cotswolds is best known for its natural beauty, but the region also has a packed calendar of events, featuring world-class music, literature, food and history festivals. Whatever your interests there’s a Cotswold festival to suit you, from classical music to cookery, steam trains to science fiction, country walks to real ale – with plenty of family-friendly options too. So if you’re looking to fill up your 2024 diary, here are 30 fantastic festivals in the Cotswolds to get you started.
2024 festivals in the Cotswolds
Gloucester History Festival
Gloucester History Festival brings the past to life with two annual events – a spring festival from 12–14 April 2024 and an autumn festival from 7–22 September 2024. Over 100 of Britain’s top historians and authors take part each year, including David Olusoga, Sathnam Sanghera and Tom Holland, with many events taking place in the atmospheric Blackfriars Priory.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival
The first of Cheltenham Festivals’ four annual events takes place on 1–6 May 2024, when the town is taken over by music lovers for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. A stellar lineup of jazz legends and emerging talents take visitors across the spectrum of jazz styles, from classic to contemporary, bebop to blues. And there’s a free stage in Montpellier Gardens with food and drink stalls.
Chipping Campden Festivals
The North Cotswolds town of Chipping Campden holds not one but two festivals this May. The Literature Festival from 6–11 May 2024 includes talks, interviews, workshops and panel discussions. And the Music Festival on 11–25 May 2024 features world-class musicians performing classical works by Debussy, Bach and Haydn in spectacular St James’ Church.
Winchcombe Walking Festival
Lace up your walking boots for Winchcombe’s award-winning Walking Festival, which has been taking place since 2009. This year’s event runs from 17–19 May 2024 and includes over 20 guided countryside walks. With different lengths and levels of difficulty there’s something for every fitness level, with knowledgeable leaders to share insights into local history, flora and fauna.
The Bath Festival
The Bath Festival takes over the historic city from 17–26 May 2024 with a diverse programme of music, literature and arts events. The festival is known for its eclectic lineup – from classical concerts and poetry open mic nights to guided walks. There’s also Party in the City on 17 May, when Bath comes alive for a night of free music and entertainment in over 30 venues.
Cotswold Festival of Steam
From 25–27 May 2024, the Gloucestershire–Warwickshire Steam Railway’s Cotswold Festival of Steam transports you to the golden age of railway travel. The festival takes place at Toddington station, and visitors can see steam locomotives in action alongside displays of historic railway artifacts and memorabilia. It’s a favourite with both railway enthusiasts and families.
Blenheim Palace Food Festival
In the grounds of the Baroque palace, Blenheim Palace Food Festival showcases the best of the region’s food and drink from 25–27 May 2024. This popular festival is back for its 10th year, and as well as plenty of opportunities to try and buy culinary treats, there are also demonstrations and Q&As from celebrity chefs, tastings and masterclasses, live music and entertainment.
Wychwood Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse is a summer family festival featuring music, arts and plenty of fun. This year’s event takes place from 31 May–2 June 2024, with headline sets from Texas and Ocean Colour Scene. There’s a relaxed feel, with camping under the Prestbury Hills and four stages of music and comedy, over 100 workshops and a kids’ literary festival.
Cheltenham Science Festival
Feed your curiosity at the annual Cheltenham Science Festival, which comes to town on 4–9 June 2024. From cutting-edge research to hands-on experiments, get insights from top scientists and big thinkers who’re asking the most important questions about the world today. There’s also a programme of free events, including family activities to inspire young minds.
Prescott Bike Fest
Rev up your engines for a celebration of motorcycles at Prescott Bike Fest on 23 June 2024, taking place at the iconic Prescott Hill Climb circuit. Bikers can tackle the hill themselves, or passengers can ride in a sidecar. There are also classic and custom-built bikes on display in the arena, a stunt show and market. And it all raises money for the Blood Bikes rapid responders.
Charlbury Beer Festival
The non-profit Charlbury Beer Festival raises thousands of pounds for good causes each year – with the next event on 29 June 2024. Over 6000 pints of ale, craft beer and cider were served last year, washed down with live music, talks, craft sessions and face-painting. The festival is also the venue for the Aunt Sally World Championship, with competitors coming from across the world.
Nibley Music Festival
Known as the ‘friendly music festival’, Nibley Music Festival is another event which supports local charities. It returns this year for the weekend of 5–7 July 2024. There’s live music, comedy and spoken word performances, plus activities for kids of all ages, from circus shows and craft-making to laughter workshops – most of which are free. Camping is also included in the ticket price.
The Cotswold Show and Food Festival
The Cotswold Show and Food Festival showcases the Cotswolds’ agricultural heritage and culinary delights in picturesque Cirencester Park on 6–7 July 2024. The show has been running for 35 years and includes equestrian and falconry displays, livestock competitions and dog shows, as well as the high-octane monster trucks. There’s also plenty of tasty local produce to eat and drink.
Cheltenham Music Festival
Cheltenham Music Festival has been bringing the best of classical music to the town since it was founded in 1945. From 6–13 July 2024 a series of classical concerts and recitals will take place, ranging from soloists to symphony orchestras. There’s also a special celebration of Cheltenham-born composer Gustav Holst this year to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth.
Multiple winner of the UK’s Best Medium-Sized Festival, 2000trees features indie, rock, punk and alternative music artists in the scenic surroundings of Upcote Farm in Withington. This year’s festival takes place on 10–13 July 2024 with camping and glamping on site, locally sourced food and drink, a forest school and play area for kids, comedy and yoga alongside the music.
Tewkesbury Medieval Festival
Tewkesbury Medieval Festival on 13–14 July 2024 is the largest free medieval gathering in Europe. The highlight is a reenactment of the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury, on the site of the original battle. But there’s also plenty of period entertainment, including music, dance and drama. And you can shop the medieval market, dress up in period costume and try a specially brewed ale.
The non-profit, community-run festival Chalfest brings the community around Chalford and Eastcombe together for a weekend of live music on 19–20 July 2024. Past headliners have included Faithless, Basement Jaxx and Sophie Ellis Bextor. There’s no camping, but you can enjoy three music stages, village green, comedy shows, workshops, food trucks and bars.
Cotswold Beer Festival
The Campaign for Real Ale’s Cotswold Beer Festival has been bringing its blend of local brews, live music and a friendly atmosphere to Postlip Hall on the edge of Cleeve Hill for over 45 years. Taking place from 19–21 July 2024, the festival has a wide selection of real ales, lagers and ciders on tap, with musicians, Morris dancers and kids’ activities to keep visitors entertained.
Fantasy Forest Festival
A magical world of fairies, knights and superheroes comes to Sudeley Castle for the Fantasy Forest Festival on 19–21 July 2024 – one of the more unusual festivals in the Cotswolds. Sci-fi and fantasy fans come together to show off their costumes, enjoy live music, visit the UK’s largest fantasy market and meet their favourite characters – ending with the Wicker Fire Ceremony.
Royal International Air Tattoo
Over 200 military and civilian aircraft take to the skies above RAF Fairford on 19–21 July 2024 for the annual Royal International Air Tattoo. This exhilarating aviation spectacle is the largest air show of its kind and includes flypasts and precision acrobatics, flight simulators and static aircraft exhibits. And the event also helps raise money for the Royal Air Force’s Charitable Trust.
Guiting Music Festival
Guiting Music Festival in the village of Guiting Power is the home of exceptional music in the Cotswolds, featuring classical, jazz and blues played by artists from around the world. The festival was founded 50 years ago and has a loyal local following. This year’s event runs from 19–28 July 2024, with a mix of indoor and open air concerts where you can bring a picnic.
The Riverside Festival is Oxfordshire’s biggest free music festival, held in a meadow by the River Evenlode in Charlbury. This year’s event runs from 20–21 July 2024 and includes 30 bands across three stages, playing rock, indie, folk and blues. Kids have lots to keep them busy, and there are craft demonstrations, pilates and mediation in the wellness tent, food traders and craft stalls.
WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) is a fiesta of music, food, dance and art from across the world, held at Charlton Park Estate near Malmesbury on 25–28 July 2024. It features musicians from 40 plus countries, with everything from Portuguese fado to Nigerian Afrobeat. You can also try global dishes in the Taste the World tent, with musicians cooking up their favourites.
Described as a ‘weekend of escapism, high jinks and wholesome hedonism’, Wilderness Festival takes over Cornbury Park near Chipping Norton for four days of revelry from 1–4 August 2024. As well as music, theatre and comedy performances, you can also experience thought-provoking talks, workshops, outdoor activities and delicious dining – with something for all the family.
Run away to the circus this summer at Soul Circus festival, which takes place from 15–18 August 2024 at Elmore in Gloucestershire. This feelgood festival has a focus on wellbeing, with a mix of yoga, breathwork, aerial skills, dance and meditation classes by day, and cocktails and DJ sets by night. You can also relax in their lakeside jacuzzi or sauna, and stay in a luxury bell tent.
The Big Feastival
The Big Feastival was created by former Blur bassist Alex James and combines his two great loves – food and music – at his farm near Kingham from 23–25 August 2024. Previous years have attracted artists like The Human League, Stereophonics, Jess Glynne and Melanie C. There are also interactive cooking demos, famous chefs, food stalls and plenty of kid-friendly activities.
Jane Austen Festival
Be transported back to the Regency era at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, held on 13–22 September 2024. This celebration of Jane Austen’s books and her legacy includes ten days worth of talks, walks, tours, balls and theatre performances. But one of its biggest highlights is the Regency Parade, when over 500 visitors dressed in period finery take to the streets of Bath.
Broadway Food Festival
The Broadway Food Festival on 15 September 2024 is one of our favourite free festivals in the Cotswolds. It’s part of the Broadway autumn show, with a traditional horticultural and craft show the day before. The festival is a delicious feast of Cotswold produce, with around 35 artisan producers tempting visitors with freshly baked cakes, pies, hot food, beers and gins.
Castle Combe Autumn Classic Historical Racing Festival
Castle Combe race circuit’s Autumn Classic event on 21–22 September 2024 is a festival of historic motor racing, with vintage cars and bikes taking to the tracks. This year there’s a special display to mark 70 years of MGs and Austin Healeys racing at Castle Combe, as well as the usual array of historic vehicles on show, parades, demos, music and other entertainment.
Cheltenham Literature Festival
The world’s longest-running literature festival celebrates its 75th anniversary this year. The Cheltenham Literature Festival sees 10 days of talks, workshops and family-friendly events from 4–13 October 2024. The programme features a mix of up-and-coming authors alongside famous names from across the worlds of literature, politics, science, sport and entertainment.