Saturday 21 January 2017

Gloucestershire festivals guide

Gloucestershire plays host to festivals dedicated to just about everything you could ever hope for. Grab your diary and check out SoGlos's annual Gloucestershire festival guide for the definitive low down.

The SoGlos team has dug deep into the online magazine’s archives and trawled hundreds of official sources to select some of the very finest Gloucestershire festivals to grace the county on an annual basis.

From world-renowned jump racing, cricket and literature festivals and independent music celebrations spanning big names and local talent, to colourful carnivals, beer bonanzas and foodie feasts, you’re sure to find your perfect festival for 2016 with SoGlos.

Festivals are organised by area, with subsections dedicated to Cheltenham, the Cotswolds, the Forest of Dean, Gloucester, Stroud and Tewkesbury respectively. Enjoy!

Guide Sponsor – Ellenborough Park

Ellenborough Park

With the accolade of being Gloucestershire’s only five-star hotel and based in Cheltenham, Ellenborough Park offers the perfect place to stay when visiting one of the county’s exciting festivals.

Set within 90-acres of parkland, guests can be sure of a luxury stay, with elegant interiors throughout the hotel’s 60 bedrooms for a peaceful night’s sleep, while its two restaurants promise to set you up for the busy day ahead.

What’s more, The Spa at Ellenborough Park offers rejuvenating treatments, while its Jacuzzi pool, sauna and steam room will leave you feeling truly relaxed, which might come in handy if you’re returning from a muddy festival.

The hotel is particularly popular with avid race-goers, boasting direct access to Cheltenham Racecourse via a private road, while the hotel regularly offers a number of festival and accommodation packages, ensuring visitors can enjoy their stay in style.

For more information call (01242) 545454, email or visit directly.

Festivals in Cheltenham

Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup

Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup

When: Annually in March
Expect to find: Huge hats and hundreds of hooves pounding Cheltenham’s historic racecourse over four days. This annual highlight of the horseracing calendar sees thousands of visitors place millions of pounds in bets and witness high-calibre racing stock battle it out for first place across the line.
SoGlos loves: The final day and sure highlight of the festival – the race for the coveted Cheltenham Gold Cup. A fantastic atmosphere, brimming with anticipation, live music, entertainment and food, ensuring racing fans return time and time again.
For more info: See Cheltenham Festival and Gold Cup.
To book: Call 0844 579 3003, email or visit directly.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Cheltenham Jazz Festival

When: Annually in April/May
Expect to find: One of the most famous Cheltenham events, the Jazz Festival can be relied upon to showcase the cream of the musical genre, as well as an eclectic array of performances from rising stars, music veterans and the region’s favourite DJs. The festival boasts a legion of loyal fans, who return time and time again for this exuberant event, which has certainly earned its reputation in recent years.
SoGlos loves: Creative and innovative in style, and keen to embrace the contemporary, Cheltenham Jazz Festival is never afraid to be a little adventurous and shows a continued commitment to broadening the jazz fan base. The incredible 2016 line up includes names such as Guy Garvey, Jamie Cullum, Corinne Bailey Ray, with jazz maestro and guest director Jamie Cullum hailing the festival as one of the best ‘in the world’.
For more info: See Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
To book: Call (01242) 850270, email or visit directly.

Cheltenham Wine Festival

Cheltenham Wine Festival

When: Annually in May
Expect to find: Over 250 local and international wine merchants descend upon the town with a host of tasty tipples to enjoy. Wine lovers and drink connoisseurs alike can enjoy this inaugural festival in 2016 with the chance to taste a wide range of tempting white, red and sparkling glasses, with the chance to take home a bottle or two to enjoy at a later date too.
SoGlos loves: Visitors can enjoy a few drinks and do their bit for charity, as this exciting event will be held in association with Cheltenham Rotary Club in aid of local charities, Macmillan Cancer Support and Kidney Research UK.
For more info: See Cheltenham Wine Festival.
To book: Email or visit directly.

Wychwood Music Festival

Wychwood Music Festival

When: Annually in June
Expect to find: Held at Cheltenham Racecourse, the family-friendly festival encompasses a multitude of performances, from up-and-coming new acts to festival favourites – with names including comedian Bill Bailey; multi award-winning performer Ms. Dynamite; singer-songwriter Kate Rushby; Peter Hook and the Light; and From The Jam already confirmed in 2016’s exciting line-up. Children are well catered for, thanks to the dedicated children’s literature festival, while fans of funny can have a chuckle at the comedians in attendance, as well as take part in a host of workshops.
SoGlos loves: Wychwood Music Festival offers the perfect opportunity to go camping, with an idyllic campsite situated beneath the rolling Prestbury Hills, allowing for the full festival experience.
For more info: See Wychwood Festival.
To book: Call (01993) 772580, email or visit directly.

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival

Cheltenham Science Festival

When: Annual in June
Expect to find: A host of the world’s most revered scientists, thinkers, performers, and writers come together for annual six-day celebration of all-things science in Cheltenham, exploring how the world works through a series of inspiring and entertaining events, experiments and workshops.
SoGlos loves: Aside from attracting a host of prestigious names in the world of science, including Professor Robert Winston, Brian Cox, Alice Roberts and Richard Dawkins to date, the festival caters to children too, offering plenty of interactive displays and hands-on activities, providing the perfect opportunity for mini scientists to learn, ask any burning questions, and most importantly, to have fun.
For more info: See The Times Cheltenham Science Festival.
To book: Call (01242) 850270, email or visit directly.

Cheltenham Music Festival

Cheltenham Music Festival

Image © McPherson Stevens

When: Annually in July
Expect to find: A cacophony of sound for classical connoisseurs encompassing scores of events and hundreds of performers, served up in a range of orchestral ensembles, solo acts and group efforts, and boasting a mix of world premieres and one-off collaborations, all hosted in some of the county’s most beautiful venues.
SoGlos loves: Class acts from all over the world, infusing contemporary ideas into classical styles and appealing to veteran classical fans and new ears alike. With a continually growing audience, the festival demonstrates that this is a genre of music that is far from extinct. The 2016 event will see the return of The John Wilson Orchestra and Nicola Benedetti, who both sold out their venues during previous festival appearances.
For more info: See Cheltenham Music Festival.
To book: Call (01242) 850270, email or visit directly.

Cheltenham Literature Festival

Cheltenham Literature Festival

When: Annually in October
Expect to find: A 10-day literary feast for book lovers across the land, including hard-hitting debates between some of the biggest names in publishing, comedy from the country’s top stand-ups, interactive media sessions, unique food and drink evenings, writing workshops and masses of family fun talks and activities. The prestigious festival will feature some of the world's biggest names in 2016, ranging from literature legends and comedians, to family favourites and politicians, with highlights including fiction writers Ian McEwan and Lionel Shriver; comedians Alan Carr and Sara Pascoe; children's favourite Jacqueline Wilson; and celebrity cooks Joe Wicks and Nadiya Hussain.
SoGlos loves: Formed in 1949, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is the oldest of its kind worldwide and has earned itself a global reputation.
For more info: See Cheltenham Literature Festival.
To book: Call (01242) 850270, email or visit directly.

Prescott Bike Festival

When: Annually in April
Expect to find: A host of bike manufacturers; a large display of historic, modern and race bikes in the paddock; more bike clubs than ever; celebrity appearances and entertainment for all the family. Plus the chance to support the Severn Freewheelers, a local Blood Bikes charity which works to provide emergency motorcycle delivery services and is responsible for moving vital medical supplies.
SoGlos loves: New for 2016, the festival will welcome the Indian Riders Motorcycle Club, in addition to a thrilling show from On The Edge Trials stunt team.
For more info: See Prescott Bike Festival or call 07005 968687.

Folk Three Festival

When: Annually in February
Expect to find: An eclectic blend of traditional and contemporary music will delight seasoned folk fans and newcomers across the three-day event, which will feature a headline act for each evening, to perform alongside support acts. The exciting line-up for 2016 includes headline performances from Lau, Edward II, and Martin Carthy and John Kirkpatrick.
SoGlos loves: Dedicated festival-goers can enjoy unlimited access to the festivities and also benefit from a £10 discount when they buy tickets for all three concerts.
For more info: See Cheltenham Folk Festival or call 0844 576 2210.

Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts

When: Annually in May
Expect to find: A medley of dance, music, speech and drama as part of one of the town’s longest-running festivals, complete with dramatic presentations, recitals and musical performances. The festival encourages competitors of all ages to get involved and spectators can enjoy a warm and energetic atmosphere throughout.
SoGlos loves: This year sees the festival return for its 90th incredible run, with the festivities still going strong – certainly helping to put Cheltenham on the map as a place of notable cultural heritage.
For more info: See Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts or call 0844 576 2210.

Hobgoblin Cheltenham Comedy Festival

When: Annually in November
Expect to find: An enviable line-up of stand-up, cabaret and fringe shows spanning the cream of the crop and up-and-coming comics, performing across various venues in Cheltenham, and promising plenty of laughs for fans of funny nationwide. Previous years have seen the likes of Reginald D. Hunter, Nina Conti, Josh Widdecombe, and Hal Cruttenden make the bill.
SoGlos loves: Not just aimed at adults, the event also keeps mini comedy fans entertained with a family fun day which is guaranteed to have little festival-goers thoroughly entertained.
For more info: See Hobgoblin Cheltenham Comedy Festival or call 0844 576 2210.

Festivals in the Cotswolds

Chipping Norton Literary Festival

When: Annually in April
Expect to find: A host of prestigious literary names ranging from top authors and public speakers to television personalities and professors, taking part in a number of special events, talks, and workshops. Highlights for 2016 include crime writer Mark Billingham, best-selling author David Nicholls, actor Ben Miller, and many more.
SoGlos loves: Placing emphasis on involving little ones in the festivities, this year will see children’s authors Jo Cotterill and John Dougherty organising a special programme of events for youngsters and schools, which will offer storytelling sessions, entertaining talks, and more activities to encourage participation from young readers.
For more info: See Chipping Norton Literary Festival or call (01608) 642350.

Chipping Campden Literature Festival

When: Annually in May
Expect to find: Evidence that the literature bug is spreading – Chipping Campden enthusiastically jumped on the bookish bandwagon in 2010, aiming to provide the people of Gloucestershire with a further source of literary goodness. Visitors can expect a celebration of the written word with talks, readings, film screenings, music and workshops from a host of celebrated figures. Lyndall Gordon, novelist Maggie Gee, poet Roger McGough, author Patrick Gale, and historian Peter Hennessy were among the prestigious guests who appeared during the 2015 festival.
SoGlos loves : Set in an official Area of Outstanding Beauty, visitors will be able to take in the stunning architecture of this historic market town while nurturing their intellectual sides.
For more info: See Chipping Campden Literature Festival or call (01386) 849018.

Lechlade Festival

When: Annually in May
Expect to find: A family-friendly festival which takes place in the heart of the Cotswolds, offering an eclectic programme of live music alongside a host of workshops and activities for festival-goers old and young. The impressive 2015 line-up saw headliners Status Quo, along with performances from Dr and the Medics and professional tribute act, Whole Lotta Led.
SoGlos loves: The chance to soak up the sounds and sunshine on the banks of the River Thames, in the stunning Cotswold countryside.
For more info: See Lechlade Festival or call (01367) 700350.

Bledington Music Festival

When: Annually in June
Expect to find: Oodles of acts across three summer evenings at St Leonard’s Church, in the pretty village of Bledington – spanning a variety of musicians from harpists to woodwind groups. Already confirmed for the 2016 event will be performances from acclaimed organist Thomas Trotter; international harpist Catrin Finch; and The Marylebone Trio.
SoGlos loves: To get local children interested in music and performance, the festival runs a very successful educational programme, during which a selection of artists get involved in a mini concert with the pupils of local primary schools.
For more info: See Bledington Music Festival or call (01608) 658669.

Cotswold Beer Festival

When: Annually in July
Expect to find: This annual sell-out event allows visitors to sample hundreds of local ales while relaxing in a friendly and jovial atmosphere, with this year’s festivities expected to include a sizzling barbecue, Morris dancing, and live music entertainment.
SoGlos loves: With 2016 marking the Cotswold Beer Festival’s 40th year, the favourite local event is officially one of the longest-running CAMRA events.
For more info: See Cotswold Beer Festival, or call (01242) 239785.

Festivals in the Forest of Dean

Forest Showcase Food and Drink Festival

When: Annually in October
Expect to find: Returning for its 16th year, the foodie festival will feature a plethora of deliciously good activities and events, spanning cookery lessons, demonstrations, workshops, children’s activities, and much more, with more than 80 local and artisan producers making the festival one of the largest in the area.
SoGlos loves: With plenty of producers displaying the best of local and seasonal food and drink, the annual festival celebrates independent, home-grown businesses. And, with expert demonstrations from chefs taking place for free, budding cooks can also learn top tips for developing their own recipes and dishes at home.
For more info: See Forest Showcase Food and Drink Festival, or call 07980 357747.

Festivals in Gloucester

Three Choirs Festival

Three Choirs Festival

When: Annually in July, rotating annually between the three cathedral cities of Gloucester, Worcester and Hereford.
Expect to find: The Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester choirs unite for this annual choral and orchestral event, which in 2016 is being held at Gloucester Cathedral, with a Festival Village being created around the local landmark. A host of individual events make up the spectacular, including chamber music, recitals, theatre performances, lectures, masterclasses and exhibitions, with an appearance from the Philharmonia Orchestra proving a particularly popular pull year on year.
SoGlos loves: This event is thought to be one of the oldest classical choral music festivals in the world, dating back to at least 1715.
For more info: See Three Choirs Festival.
To book: Call 0845 652 1823, email or visit directly.

Carducci Festival

When: Annually in May
Expect to find: A series of world-class concerts and performances that focus on the critically acclaimed Carducci Quartet – a contemporary four piece committed to bringing classical music to the younger generation. Each year the quartet is joined by a variety of classical virtuosos, all doing their bit to add to the festival’s superb reputation. The festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2016, with a host of top performers including tenor Joshua Ellicott; pianist Martin Roscoe; guitarist Craig Ogden; and composer Simon Rowland-Jones.
SoGlos loves: A series of free events, including a Roald Dahl-inspired family concert and a clarinet masterclass, make the festival accessible to everyone, while its family friendly concerts cater to a younger audience.
For more info: See Carducci Festival.

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Festival

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Festival

When: Annually in late August
Expect to find: An array of restored boats, military vessels, tugs and yachts proudly on display along Over Basin during the two-day festival, plus live music, local stalls, and an impressive flotilla of heritage boats sailing from Over Basin to Vineyard Hill.
SoGlos loves: The Beer, Cider and Perry festival that takes place on the Saturday is perfect for keeping visitors in high spirits, while a host of family fun activities and entertainment also caters to younger festival-goers.
For more info: See Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Festival.
To book: Call (01452) 332900, email or visit directly.

Strike a Light Festival

When: Annually in April
Expect to find: Strike a Light Festival gives visitors the chance to see exciting stage shows and world-class dance at affordable prices. The week-long event champions local artists, performers and even residents at venues in Gloucester, including The Guildhall and King’s Square. Expect an eclectic line-up for 2016 including spoken word theatre; dance shows; and family-friendly events aplenty.
SoGlos loves: An event which supports budding performers and unites the local community, Strike a Light Festival celebrates creativity and diversity, providing opportunities among talented locals.
For more info: See Strike a Light Festival..

Sportbeat Festival

When: Annually in August
Expect to find: A summer highlight in Gloucester,
Sportbeat offers an action-packed weekend brimming with live music, sports and fun for the whole family. Aside from an enviable line-up of chart-topping bands and local talent, festival-goers can expect to see some sporting spectacles, with the 2016 event promises to be bigger and better than ever before.
SoGlos loves: While the 2016 line-up is yet to be announced, highlights from the previous year included big names such as The Fratellis, De La Soul, The View, Jaguar Skills, MistaJam, and many more top acts, which is sure to be rivalled for this year’s event.
For more info: See Sportbeat Festival in Gloucester or call (01452) 234644.

Barn on the Farm

When: Annually in July
Expect to find: Aiming to bridge the gap between your typical village hall shenanigans and its mainstream counterparts, Gloucester’s Over Farm Market is the setting for three days of folk music from dozens of live music performers – some up-and-coming and others who are well on the way to stardom – with previous performers including Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Hozier, and The Staves.
SoGlos loves: Despite its big-name performers, the folk-orientated festival maintains an intimate atmosphere and provides a stage for fresh new faces to showcase their talent.
For more info: See Barn on the Farm.

Festivals in Stroud

Hogfest at The Hog at Horsley

Hogfest at The Hog at Horsley

When: Annually in May
Expect to find: A family-friendly weekend jam-packed with live music, outdoor games, children’s entertainment, circus skills, beer and cider, in The Hog at Horsley’s second annual Hogfest. Sure to pull in the crowds, music-lovers can see the likes of Peeky Blinders, The Bob Porter Project and Swing from Paris take to the stage over the bank holiday weekend, with plenty going on at the Stroud gastropub to keep everyone entertained.
SoGlos loves: With fingers firmly crossed for a spot of sunshine, festival-goers can soak up the suds as the Hog at Horsley sparks up the barbecue, while food lovers can also enjoy the venue’s wood-fired pizzas, promising the perfect way to spend the long May weekend.
For more info: See Hogfest at The Hog at Horsley
To book: Call (01453) 833843, email or visit directly.

Nibley Music Festival

When: Annually in July
Expect to find: A diverse selection of live acts performing at one of the friendliest music festivals around – with stalls galore for afternoon browsing and lots of fun family activities. Drinkers can enjoy a plethora of local ales, while there’s more than enough opportunity for foodies to munch on food from around the world.
SoGlos loves: Alongside two days of top entertainment, Nibley Music Festival boasts a breathtaking Cotswold location, to ensure a wonderful festival experience.
For more info: See Nibley Music Festival, or call 0845 224 1973.

Frocester Beer Festival

When: Annually in August
Expect to find: A tremendously popular event which sells out every year, the two-day festival is held in the Frocester Cricket Club ground and takes place every August bank holiday weekend. Boasting more than 100 cask-conditioned real ales, wines, ciders, hot food and a lively programme of music, the event is a highlight of the festival calendar for locals.
SoGlos loves: Despite being located in a small hamlet near Stroud, the festival has proved a real success over the years and now attracts thousands of visitors from as far afield as Europe.
For more info: See Frocester Beer Festival.

Festival of British Eventing

When: Annually in August
Expect to Find: A weekend of quintessentially British entertainment, with world-class equestrian competitions, a shopping village, family entertainment and much more, all taking place within the beautiful surroundings of Gatcombe Park, the home of the Princess Royal. And for those looking to make a weekend of it, there is also a caravan park complete with quality amenities.
SoGlos loves: With the Olympics taking place this year, 2016’s event promises to be an extra-special occasion, with some exciting attractions being planned to mark the Rio Olympic Games.
For more info: See Festival of British Eventing, or call (01458) 250200.

Festivals in Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury Medieval Festival

When: Annually in July
Expect to find: A spectacular event that sends history enthusiasts wild each summer and sees nail-biting battles recreated with skill and dexterity; a vibrant medieval market; period entertainment; authentic re-enactors; children’s activities; and much more, Tewkesbury’s renowned medieval re-enactment event is one of the biggest in Europe – and even better, it’s free of charge.
SoGlos loves: The sight of 2000 brave warriors, archers and cannon-bearers re-enacting the 1471 Battle of Tewkesbury as part of a series of magnificent combat displays.
For more info: See Tewkesbury Medieval Festival, or call (01684) 855040.

Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival

When: Annually in August
Expect to find: Lots of vintage vehicles, from buses to motorcycles, plus a great selection of cars going back to the pre-war era. There’s always something to keep the whole family entertained throughout the day, with fairground rides; a plethora of market stalls; and a barbecue with a licensed bar.
SoGlos loves: Over the years, the festival has seen world-famous cars such as Le Mans Bentley and the Rolls Royce Phantom among the 400 on display.
For more info: See Tewkesbury Classic Vehicle Festival or call (01684) 850940.

If you know of an annual Gloucestershire festival which deserves a place in SoGlos’s guide, request an event listing for possible inclusion.

© SoGlos
Saturday 18 June 2016

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