Thursday 2 April 2020

20 free things to do in the Christmas holidays in Gloucestershire

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas here in Gloucestershire, and with these free things to do over the festive season, celebrating Christmas doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Gloucestershire is bursting with plenty of free things to do over the holidays and we’ve rounded up 20 of the best things so that the festivities break the bank.

About the sponsor – Regent Arcade

Located in the heart of Cheltenham town centre, Regent Arcade is home to more than 60 shops and a selection of cafés and eateries. With a mix of independent and high street brands, shoppers can pick up the latest trends, shop lovely gifts, and stop for a bite to eat all under one roof. The arcade houses retailers such as H&M, Topshop, Tiger, Pandora, Cotswold Galleria, and Mistral, and eateries such as Soho Coffee, Auntie Anne’s and Carluccio’s.

The bubble-blowing Wishing Fish Clock is always a popular attraction with the kids and the events held across the year bring a sense of community to the shopping centre.

For more information, visit

1. Meet Santa at Regent Arcade in Cheltenham

On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 December 2019, Father Christmas will be making a special visit to Regent Arcade, meeting boys and girls before Christmas Day. With new decorations this year, the shopping centre will be transformed into a winter wonderland – just don’t forget your camera!

2. Visit a Christmas market

What’s more christmassy than wandering around a Christmas market? Offering a sprinkling of festive joy, markets are a great way to get some gift inspiration. With carol singing and plenty to see, Christmas markets in Gloucestershire will get the whole family feeling festive.

3. Join the Christmas fun at Eastgate Shopping Centre

Cheeky elves, Santa’s reindeer and other Christmas characters will be out and about at Eastgate Shopping Centre’s festive event between Saturday 14 and Saturday 21 December 2019, as a part of its initiative to help families in need. Drop in to say hello as they take a break from their duties at the North Pole.

4. Take the plunge at Sandford Lido

Brave souls can take the plunge in Sandford Park Lido’s chilly Christmas Swim. A great, albeit slightly bonkers, way to work up an appetite for lunch, this annual event brings in hundreds of people who are willing to swap the Christmas PJs for a cossie and a pair of goggles.

5. Go carol singing at Cheltenham College Chapel

On Thursday 19 December 2019, have a festive sing-a-long at Cheltenham College Chapel’s Christmas Carol Concert, in support of Maggie’s Cheltenham. Although online registration is required to book a seat, this event is free to attend and a lovely way to spread the festive joy.

6. Visit Llanthony Priory’s Christmas Fair

Enjoy the Christmas Fair at Llanthony Priory, which is opening its doors to festive stall holders for the first time on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December 2019. Browse the wonderful handmade gifts to get that all-important gift inspiration before enjoying a hot cuppa in Lady Margaret Hall.

7. See the Christmas lights switched on

Welcome the festivities with open arms and go along to one of the many Christmas lights switch-on events happening across Gloucestershire. Paired with carol singing, mulled wine, and a good dash of festive spirit, these events are great for the whole family to enjoy.

8. Say hello to the animals at Over Farm

Get up close to the animals at Over Farm in Gloucester, where visiting the animals is free. With a selection of animals ranging from pigs, donkeys, ponies and even ostrich chicks, it’s a great free activity for children.

9. Go for a festive walk in the Forest of Dean

Under a canopy of trees in the Forest of Dean, start your way around the sculpture trail from Beechenhurst. Wrap up warm, pack a wintry picnic and enjoy a magical walk through the enchanting forest without breaking the bank.

10. Festive Showcase at Taurus Crafts

On Saturday 21 and Sunday 22 December 2019, Taurus Crafts is getting into the festive spirit with its Pop-up Festive Showcase. Go along to listen to live music, eat delicious food, and a browse range of stalls featuring local artists. Plus, you can keep the kids entertained with the various children’s activities happening during the day.

11. Explore the Jet Age Museum

Free entry means families can enjoy a great day out at Jet Age Museum in Gloucester. Sit inside a real plane and see some of the most impressive fighter planes in all their glory.

12. Visit the animals at St James City Farm

A free gem in the heart of Gloucester, St James City Farm has a whole host of animals to visit. From sheep to pigs, guinea pigs to goats, there’s lots of furry friends to stroke – and all without an admission charge.

13. Go wildlife watching at Cotswold Water Park

Watch the wintering birds and head out on a wildlife hunt around the impressive lakes at Cotswold Water Park
. With so many species to spot, it’s a great place to pull on some wellies and enjoy a day with nature.

14. Boxing Day at Gloucester Cathedral

Continue to spread the festive joy even after the big day with a carol service at Gloucester Cathedral on Thursday 26 December 2019. With all donations going to the Choral Society’s chosen charity, this afternoon of song will be set in the beautiful surroundings of the cathedral, the ideal spot for a festive celebration.

15. Run off some steam at a playground in Gloucestershire

Get outside and run off some steam with a trip to one of Gloucestershire’s best parks around. Whether little ones want to zoom down the slides, swoop on the swings or whizz down the zip wire, there’s plenty of fun to be had at 12 of the best children's playgrounds in Gloucestershire.

16. Head to Winchcombe’s Christmas Festival

With carol singing, Morris dancers, over 50 market stalls and 70 illuminated Christmas Trees springing up in Winchcombe, this Cotswold town will be transformed into a Christmas wonderland this December with the return of its Christmas Festival. Go along on Tuesday 3 December 2019 to get all the festive feels.

17. Visit the Tailor of Gloucester Museum

Beatrix Potter fans will love visiting The House of the Tailor of Gloucester
, where entry is free of charge. Offering the chance to see where Beatrix Potter got her inspiration from, the museum promises the chance to see where Simpkin kept watch over his mice.

18. Go to the races at Cheltenham Racecourse

Whilst adults do have to pay, children get free entry to New Year’s Day racing at Cheltenham Racecourse. With visits from_Madagascar’s Alex the Lion, there are also children’s activities and a Family Fun Zone to keep the kids entertained.

19. Take part in the Lantern Parade in Stroud

Get crafty and make your own nature-themed lantern for this year’s Goodwill Evening in Stroud
. Taking place on Friday 6 December 2019, this magical procession is a great way to get together with friends and family and celebrate the festivities.

20. Meet Dippy the Dinosaur

If you don’t mind travelling a little further afield, take the kids to see Dippy the Dinosaur, one of the most famous dinosaurs in the world, at Natural History Museum Cardiff. On show until Sunday 26 January 2020, Dippy is a 21-metre-long skeleton cast of a diplodocus, on tour from its home in London.

For more information about Regent Arcade, visit

© SoGlos
Sunday 22 December 2019

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