Cheltenham: 7 Fun Things To Do In Cheltenham

By: Simon Haughtone

As the centre for the Cotswolds, there are plenty of things to do in Cheltenham.

1. Shopping

Cheltenham now has 2 shopping malls: Regent Arcade and Beechwood Shopping Centre. These are hosts to a variety of local stores and national chain shops, as well as department stores such as Debenhams and BHS. You can feast on chocolate or pamper yourself with body lotions and candles. The other shopping area to investigate is the Promenade, which is home to many specialist stores as well as the large Cavendish House department store.

2. Restaurants and Nightlife

Even outside Race Week, Cheltenham has a bustling town centre, attracting up to 30,000 people who enjoy the multiplex cinema, restaurants, pubs, bars and clubs. Cheltenham's night clubs cater for a wide age range and you are almost certain to find somewhere that is to your musical taste. As one of the largest venues in the South West, The Centaur is host to a number of large concerts. You can sample almost any cuisine from Michelin starred restaurants through to a wide variety of Indian, Italian, Thai and other restaurants.

3. Horse Racing

Often referred to as the home of National Hunt racing, there are race meetings from October through to April. These are always well attended and you can choose your vantage point according to your budget. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the highlight of the season and the town is full of people watching the races and celebrating St Patrick's day. If you plan to stay in town, or anywhere close, at this time of year be sure to book well in advance.

4. Festivals

The famous literature festival is just one of the many festivals hosted in the town. There are also events for music, jazz, folk and science. The Greenbelt Music Festival is also held here each year. Most of these events are spread across the town including the Town Hal, Everyman and Playhouse theatres, the Pittville Pump Room as well as many smaller venues.

5. Museums

The composer Gustav Holst was born in Cheltenham and has a museum dedicated to him. There is also the main Art Gallery and Museum, centrally located next to the library. If you prefer something different, nearby Winchcombe has both a Railway museum and a Folk and Police museum.

6. Sport

As well as horse racing, football and rugby are sports that the locals are passionate about. The Robins (or Cheltenham Town F.C. to be more correct) are the local football team, currently playing in League One, the second highest football division, which means there is regular soccer action available. For those who prefer rugby, check out the many rugby clubs in town including the Saracens, Old Patesians and the Civil Service RFC.

7. Explore History

As well as visiting the Pittville Pump Rooms and sampling the spa water, you can investigate the roots of famous Cheltonians such as Eddie the Eagle, Richard Hammond, Edward Jenner, Brian Jones and many more. Cheltenham is also home to a number of historic churches and the district Prestbury is reckoned to be one of the most haunted villages in the UK.

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