Our complete guide to the best Cotswold Christmas Markets

 

Visit a traditional Christmas Market in the Cotswolds this festive season

 

The beautiful towns and villages of the Cotswolds are always brimming with charm, but during the festive season they take on a special kind of magic. The thatched stone cottages are decorated with Christmas lights, while traditional squares play host to beautiful Christmas trees and rosy-cheeked carol singers. Meanwhile, the cobbled streets of the Cotswolds come alive with some of the best Christmas markets in the country…

Don’t miss the chance to soak up the festive spirit in the Cotswolds this year with one of these enchanting days out…

Blenheim Palace Christmas Market: 19th November – 19th December 2021

Blenheim Palace is one of the great jewels of the Cotswolds, with over 200 acres of grounds, ornate state rooms and numerous exhibitions and tours to enjoy. At Christmastime, the palace takes on a whole new life as it welcomes its annual Christmas market. Held in the magnificent Great Court, surrounded by beautiful architecture, you can’t help but be pulled into the festive spirit as you admire the sparkling lights, browse over 70 boutique market stalls and indulge in some tempting treats. It really is the perfect start to the festive season. Entry to the market is free with a pre-booked parking ticket.

How to get there / Parking

Although the use of sustainable transport is strongly encouraged, it is easy to drive to Blenheim Palace. It is clearly signposted from junction nine of the M40, and is located on the A44 Evesham Road. If using a sat nav, the postcode is OX20 1UL.

Parking for the Christmas Market is free before 10am, and £10 any time afterwards.

There are also frequent train services to the nearby stations of Oxford, Oxford Parkway and Hanborough, as well as three regular bus routes which stop outside the main entrance.

Good to know

The market isn’t the only Christmas event you can enjoy at Blenheim this festive season. The palace is also running a spectacular illuminated trail, filling their gorgeous gardens with twinkling lights, dancing flames and breathtaking illuminations. The palace itself has also been transformed as part of their Nutcracker event. From the toymakers workshop to the Land of Snow, the famous rooms will become a true winter wonderland. Separate charges apply for these experiences.

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Winchcombe Christmas Festival: Returning in 2022

Unfortunately, the Winchcombe Christmas Festival is not going ahead in 2021, but we hope to welcome it back in 2022! In the meantime, visitors to Winchcombe might enjoy the Cheltenham Christmas market (20 minutes’ drive) or the Chipping Campden Christmas market (25 minutes’ drive).

The Winchcombe Christmas Festival is a much-loved Christmas event that the whole town gets involved in. The local shops extend their opening times while over 50 market stalls line the streets of this popular and charming Cotswold town. With the sound of carol singers, twinkling lights and the smell of mince pies filling the streets, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the Christmas spirit. As well as the shopping and delicious food, there’s a chance for younger visitors to meet Father Christmas himself!

How to get there / Parking

Winchcombe is easily accessible, only 10 miles from junction 9 of the M5 and with good road links to the rest of the Cotswolds. There is also a train station and a bus service that runs between Winchcombe and Cheltenham.

Once you’ve arrived, you can park all day at the Back Lane car park (GL54 5PZ), which is just a short walk from the high street. Other car parks include Bull Lane (GL54 5HX) and Abbey Terrace (GL54 5LL), both of which have disabled bays.

Good to know

This is one of the most popular Christmas markets in the Cotswolds, so expect a crowd! With an abundance of food and drink, shopping and entertainment on offer, you can easily spend a few hours exploring this fantastic festive market, so wrap up warm and make sure you have comfy shoes!

To extend the Christmas magic, nearby Sudeley Castle’s annual Spectacle of Light (26th Nov – 30th Dec 2021) often runs at the same time of year. Follow the sparkling illuminated trail around the magnificent grounds, finishing off the day with a warming mulled wine or hot chocolate.


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Cirencester Advent Festival:  27th November 2021

Cirencester always gets into the Christmas spirit at this time of year, with this beautiful town becoming a real winter wonderland thanks to plenty of twinkling lights and festive decorations. There are several markets taking place in Cirencester throughout the season, but it all starts off with the Advent Festival at the end of November. This is when the lights are switched on, accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display, fairground, live entertainment and a large Advent/Arts and Crafts market.

How to get there / Parking

Thanks to being so close to the M5 (about 15 minutes). Cirencester is fairly easy to reach by road. You can also catch the train to Kemble station, located about 5 miles away.

Cirencester has a selection of car parks within easy reach of the town centre. These include Abbey Grounds car park, Old Station car park, The Market Place and Waterloo car park. All have disabled bays and use a pay and display payment system.

Good to know

Known as the capital of the Cotswolds, Cirencester has plenty to discover. As well as all the delights of the market, Cirencester is known for its range of independent shops and boutiques – ideal for ticking everyone off your Christmas shopping list!

Make sure that you bring your little ones to Cirencester Park during your visit. This beautiful park will be welcoming Santa’s Workshop (20th Nov - 23rd Dec 2021), complete with elves, reindeer and real snow… they might even meet the man himself and pick up a present!

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Bourton-on-the-Water Christmas Lights: December 2021

Bourton-on-the-Water is a gorgeous setting to enjoy the festive season. The village looks perfect lit-up for the Christmas period, and you can see the beautiful lights from the beginning of December – including the iconic Christmas tree in the middle of the River Windrush. Bourton-on-the-Water has some great shops to purchase both traditional Christmas gifts, local produce and luxury items, with many boutiques that you won’t find anywhere else. They also run a small Christmas market alongside the river, which makes for a delightfully intimate shopping experience.

How to get there / Parking

With its central location, Bourton-on-the-water is easily to reach from all directions. Whether travelling from Cirencester or Stow-on-the-Wold, follow the A429 and you’ll end up on Station Road. This is home to one of two large pay and display car parks in Bourton-on-the-Water – the other is on Rissington Road. Both are only a few minutes’ walk from the village centre, where you’ll find the lights and the majority of the shops.

The postcodes for the car parks are GL52 2BN (Rissington Road) and GL54 2EN (Station Road).

Good to know

Once you’re done admiring the lights and have finished up your shopping, there’s still plenty to enjoy in Bourton-on-the water. Why not pop into their famous model village to see the perfectly to-scale replica of Bourton, complete with minute pruned trees and a model of the model itself! You could also take the little ones to see the penguins at Birdland.


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Bourton on the Water's beautiful Christmas light display


Bath Christmas Market: Online only in 2021

Due to the pandemic, the traditional Bath Christmas market is not going ahead in 2021. However, you can still find the perfect gift from a local stallholder or small business by browsing the virtual Christmas Market.

Bath is a popular shopping destination at any time of year, but at Christmas, it’s certainly a sight to see. If you love a mix of well-known high-street stores and quaint boutiques, you’ll find both at the award-winning Bath Christmas Market. With over 150 traditional chalets, covered in decorations, lights and garlands, it’s impossible not to get swept up in the festive atmosphere. From handmade crafts to personalised gifts, you’ll find something for everyone on your list, as well as plenty of opportunities to enjoy some festive entertainment and delicious food!

How to get there / Parking

Bath Christmas market is easy to reach by train, car and bus. The train station itself is only a short walk from the market and city centre, and many coach companies run regular direct trips to Bath from various destinations.

By road, Bath is around 20 minutes from the M4, which runs directly from London. It also has good road links from the North and Cornwall via the M5. If you do decide to drive, there are three park and ride services in Bath that run throughout the week. Returns cost £3.10 during weekends and £3.60 in the week. Alternatively, you can park your car in one of many car parks in the city. A few located close to the market include Charlotte Road Car Park (BA1 2NE), Podium Shopping Centre (BA1 5BN) and Manvers Street Car Park (BA1 1JZ).

Good to know

Although the market is not running in 2021, there’s still a wonderful collection of festive activities to get involved in during your visit to Bath. Between 12th November and 3rd January, you can test out your skills on the city Ice Rink, which combines the frosty ice with twinkling lights, a cosy bar and festive music. Alternatively, why not discover the beauty of this historic city by following their iconic Christmas lights trail? Starting on the 25th November, some of the city’s most famous buildings, including the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey and Brunel Square, will be lit up with all manner of brilliant lights, illuminations and displays.

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Gloucester Quays Victorian Christmas Market:  6th November – 19th December 2021

This ever-popular event welcomes all manner of Christmas shoppers every year, and 2021 looks to be no different! With over 100 seasonal stalls selling festive food and drink, one-of-a-kind gifts, decorations and much more, it’s the perfect place to ease yourself into the festive season. The varied entertainment brings together a host of Victorian characters, and you can even take to the ice on the open-air skating rink!

How to get there / Parking

Gloucester itself is conveniently located in the M5, on junction 11 from the north and junction 12 from the south. Alternatively, Gloucester train station is just a short walk from Gloucester Quays and the city centre, and welcomes direct trains from London, Birmingham, Bristol and Wales.

Gloucester Quays has a multi-storey car park (GL1 5SF) with spaces for 1,400 cars. Prices range from £2.50 for up to 2 hours to £12 for 24 hours.

Good to know

If you’re visiting Gloucester on Sunday 21st November, make sure you don’t miss the city’s annual lantern procession and light switch on. Children from all the local schools will follow the procession route with their lanterns, with the city’s Christmas lights being switched on as they pass. Finishing in Gloucester’s famous cathedral, you can then enjoy a short free carol service and, of course, some warming refreshments to round off the evening.

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Pick up a beautiful selection of gifts and decorations at a Cotswold Christmas market

 

Chipping Campden Christmas Market: 4th – 5th December 2021

Chipping Campden’s picture-perfect market square and town hall are transformed for this magical Christmas event. Full of festive stalls selling all manner of gifts, decorations, food, and drink, you could easily get all your Christmas shopping done in one trip! Father Christmas will also be meeting children in the town hall, making this the perfect way to kick off the festive season.

How to get there / Parking

Chipping Campden is relatively easy to drive to, sitting between the M40 and M5 motorways. Follow the signs to Evesham initially, then Chipping Campden. The route is mostly A roads and rather windy, so a sat nav is recommended! Visitors can also get the train to Chipping Campden by travelling to Moreton-in-Marsh and taking a bus or taxi onwards.

Chipping Campden doesn’t have unlimited parking, so you may find yourself having to park further away from the market and walk in. There is a small amount of parking available in the Market square car park (GL55 6AW), but it often fills up quickly so aim to get there early!

Good to know

Chipping Campden is located right on the Cotswold Way. This famous walking route is the perfect way to drink in the beauty of the Cotswolds and surrounding countryside, especially during the winter months, with the bright blue skies, sparkling frost and crisp country air. There are a selection of walking guides available from the town’s information office, making it very easy to enjoy a stroll during your visit. And, of course, there’ll be more than one cosy pub with a crackling log fire waiting for you when you get back!

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Moreton in Marsh Christmas Market: 27th November 2021

This is a great day out for all the family. The market runs all through the day, giving visitors plenty of opportunity to shop for unique gifts for all the family (and yourself!). As the suns sets, this picturesque Cotswold town gets ready for the arrival of Father Christmas himself, who has the honour of switching on the Christmas lights.

How to get there / Parking

From its position at the head of the Evenlode Valley, Moreton in Marsh is easily reached thanks to its good transport links, which include a direct train line to London. The town sits at the junction where the A44 meets the A429, so is easily reached from either direction.

During the Christmas Market, there will be free parking at Old Market Way. You can also park at the large Station car park for £3.20 (all day).

Good to know

If you’re visiting at this time of year with little ones in tow, make sure to make a stop at Batsford Arboretum to take part in their Children’s Christmas Trail (1st December – 3rd January). Children will love spotting all the festive surprises as they follow the winding route, and can even claim a special Christmas prize at the end!

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Cheltenham Christmas Market: 20th November – 19th December 2021

Cheltenham Christmas Market is a new addition to the Cotswold calendar, but looks sure to be a firm favourite. Located along the promenade, you’ll find a wonderful selection of gifts, decorations and treats to choose from, with all kinds of local and visiting traders in attendance. Entrance is free, so why not pop along during your festive break and see what catches your eye? As well as prime shopping opportunities, the music, lights and merry atmosphere is sure to put you in the Christmas spirit.  

How to get there / Parking

Thanks to frequent train services, a good bus network and road links, Cheltenham is very easy to reach. If travelling by car, take junction 11 on the M5. You can also approach via the A40. When it comes to parking, by far the easiest option is to use Cheltenham’s Park and Ride services, located at Arle Court (GL51 6SY) and Cheltenham Racecourse (GL50 4SH). There are also a selection of pay and display car parks in the city centre, which can be found here.

Good to know

If you decide to visit the Christmas market on the first day (20th November), you will also get to see the ever-popular Christmas lights switch on. Some very special visitors will be in town, including the Snow Queen and Fairy Godmother, before the beautiful lights sparkle into life at nightfall. For more festive fun, make sure to pay a visit to Cheltenham’s Ice Skating Rink, or catch the pantomime at the Everyman Theatre – this year it’s family-favourite, Jack and the Beanstalk.

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The Cotswolds is a beautiful place to spend the festive season

 

If you’re hoping to experience the magic of the Cotswolds this Christmas, don’t miss the chance to book one of our many cosy holiday cottages. From family-friendly festive retreats to romantic hideaways, 2019 is the year to treat yourself to the perfect Christmas break.
 

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