14 new hobbies to try in Gloucestershire this year

Try something new in 2023, with SoGlos's pick of fun and interesting hobbies to turn your hand to in Gloucestershire – with something for outdoorsy, competitive and creative types alike.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
New year, new hobby! Try everything from padel to pole fitness in Gloucestershire in 2023.
In partnership with East Glos Club  |  eastglos.co.uk
East Glos Club

East Glos Club is a fun and sociable sports club in Cheltenham, with first-class racket sport facilities, expert coaching and annual membership options that give members the chance to enjoy tennis, squash, racketball and padel. Players of all ages and abilities are welcome, with opportunities for competitive and social play, too.

If the new year has you hankering to start something new, Gloucestershire is bursting with inspiration for aspiring hobbyists – where you can try everything from padel, the world's fastest growing racket sport, to keeping bees.

Discover something to get passionate about with SoGlos's pick of 14 new hobbies to enrich your spare time this year. 

Try racket sports

A fantastic way to get fit and make new friends, racket sports like tennis, squash, padel and racketball are fun, sociable and great for your physical and mental health – and you can play all four with a single rackets membership at Cheltenham's East Glos Club, home to the only padel courts in Gloucestershire.

From newcomers to rusty returners, the club gives players all the guidance they need to swing with confidence, with opportunities to learn in a group setting or hone your skills with one-on-one coaching sessions.

Unsure where to start? Tennis is a brilliant aerobic exercise, while squash provides a great workout in 40 minutes for the slightly more energetic – and padel is the perfect combination of the two, played in doubles on a smaller court. Meanwhile, racketball is a bit slower than squash, making it a great starting point and top choice for older players.

Learn a language

Broaden your horizons for global travel and put your brain to work by learning to speak a new language. Whether you want to be able to hold a conversation on your next holiday or practice to fluency, local places like inlingua in Cheltenham and South Gloucestershire and Stroud College offer expert tuition for aspiring linguists.

Globetrotters might want to become proficient in Spanish, one of the world's most widely spoken languages, while there's also the chance to learn Greek, Italian or a politically-relevant language like Russian right here in Gloucestershire.

Play golf

A great hobby for good weather, golf is a skilled game that will get you out in the fresh air. Sociable sorts are sure to meet like-minded individuals to bond with at their local club, while those who prefer to enjoy their hobbies solo will have lots of fun taking themselves round the course to focus on hitting hole-in-ones.

Perfect for anyone interested in giving golf a go, Brickhampton Court Golf Complex in Churchdown has recently introduced a TrackMan Range where golfers can practice their skills on virtual courses , receiving insightful reports on how to improve their game.

Get into crafting

Seize the opportunity to embrace your creativity this year, by trying everything from ceramics to silk painting at New Brewery Arts in Cirencester – where artistic types can get crafty at one of its weekend workshops.

Fully immersive and led by expert tutors, upcoming workshops include experimental drawing, jewellery making, soap making and even Indian block printing.

Take up birdwatching

A wonderful way to connect with nature – which is said to have huge mental health-boosting benefits, too – birdwatching is an observational hobby which involves identifying all kinds of birdlife by sight and song, and studying how they interact with their environment.

Slimbridge Wetland Centre invites birdwatchers into its hides to lookout for avian activity and offers guided birding sessions; while elsewhere in the county, Symonds Yat Rock is a hotspot for peregrine falcons, as well as other raptors like buzzards and goshawks; and the RSPB nature reserves at Highnam Woods near Gloucester and Nagshead near Lydney are brilliant for spotting birdlife all year round.

Have a go at rock climbing

If heights don't faze you, hop into a harness and try rock climbing – an adrenaline-pumping pastime which not only provides an excellent workout, but a real rush of endorphins when you reach the summit.

Practice on the climbing walls at The Warehouse in Gloucester and Far Peak near Northleach, or visit the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley to scale the area's limestone cliffs – with Symonds Yat being one of the best places in the whole country for rock climbing, boasting a wide range of graded routes to suit all abilities.

Try beekeeping

Budding beekeepers will get a real buzz learning how to look after some of the planet's most important creatures at Cotswold Farm Park, where Cotswold Bees regularly runs introductory sessions to beekeeping.

If you're considering a hive of your own, the Gloucestershire Beekeepers Association offers a hands-on training scheme for beginners, where you'll get a starter hive to tend to for two whole beekeeping seasons – experiencing the whole lifecycle of a honeybee colony with expert help on hand.

Learn how to ski or snowboard

The distinct lack of snow in Gloucestershire doesn't need to be a barrier for those wanting to mastering the slopes, with Gloucester Ski and Snowboard Centre offering a variety of traditionally alpine activities – ranging from skiing and snowboarding coaching to recreational practice and even tubing.

With the longest dry slope in England, plus dedicated freestyle, nursery and tubing slopes, the adventure centre gives riders the chance to enjoy snow sports all year round, without ever needing to step foot outside the county.

Start hiking

Whether you've got all the gear or no idea where to start, Gloucestershire is a fantastic destination to set off on a hike – with long-distance, waymarked routes, like the famous 102-mile Cotswold Way, and plenty of Cotswold hills to conquer.

Start off by making your way through SoGlos's pick of 11 beautiful Gloucestershire walks and, if you get a real appetite for it, consider taking on Cheltenham's Three Peak Challenge, reaching the summits of Cleeve, Crickley and Leckhampton Hills all in one day.

Get into astronomy

Gloucestershire's rolling countryside is nothing short of a playground for stargazers, with dark skies in the remote Cotswolds and Forest of Dean offering unobstructed views of the galaxy, where there's minimal light pollution.

Anyone interested in exploring astronomy can learn more from groups like the Cotswold Astronomical Society, which hosts monthly meetings and telescope workshops; or book on to a stargazing safari at Tudor Farmhouse to observe the wonders of the night sky with help from an expert guide.

Join a choir

Great for releasing tension, boosting your confidence and making new friends, coming together with members of the community for a good old sing-along is a fun and sociable way to lift your spirits.

Best of all, you don't need to be pitch perfect to join a Gloucestershire choir, taking your pick from the Everyman Theatre's EveryVoice network of community choirs in Cheltenham; Some Voices in Stroud; or the choir at Tewkesbury's Roses Theatre, which also hosts sociable group singing for wellbeing sessions.

Take up pole fitness or aerial hoop

Whether you're already a fitness fanatic or looking for a new way to workout, pole fitness will put your core strength to test and teach you how to move your body in a completely different way. Or why not challenge yourself to try one of the oldest circus disciplines and learn how to perform killer choreography on a suspended aerial hoop?

Find a whole range of classes at Momentum Pole and Aerial, running from three locations in Gloucestershire – a main studio at Gloucester's Morelands Trading Estate, as well as a dedicated aerial arts studio at Bournside Sports Centre and pole studio above The Urban Meadow café in Cheltenham.

Try flower arranging

Hobby-seekers with a keen eye for detail might enjoy flower arranging, where anthophiles can turn their love of all things floral into beautiful bouquets and displays of colourful blooms.

Learn the basics with a floristry class at Gloucestershire College or South Gloucestershire and Stroud College; or dabble in the floral arts with a workshop at Daylesford or Tudor Farmhouse. Local florists like The Bespoke Flower Co. and Cotswold Country Flowers also run sessions for hobbyists and budding florists.

Learn how to bake

From nurturing sourdough starters to presenting perfectly-laminated pastry and intricately-iced cakes, take up baking to whip up some tasty treats for your family – and have fun doing it!

With baking classes to sign up for all over Gloucestershire, total beginners can don an apron and learn the basics while novice bakers can brush up their baking skills at one of SoGlos's favourite cookery schools.

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