The definitive list for freeloading fun in Gloucestershire, SoGlos has handpicked 26 free things to do in the county without spending a penny.
Catering to everyone from outdoorsy types and festival-goers to families, bookmark SoGlos’s hot list for a go-to resource of totally free entertainment in Gloucestershire.
1. View the sights at Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail
Starting at Beechenhurst Lodge, the famous Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail celebrates all things nature with a series of forest-inspired sculptures interspersed among towering trees. Get some fresh air and burn off some energy along the 3.5 mile path. Children can also enjoy the playground at Beechenhurst Lodge.
2. Wander around The Wilson
Cheltenham art gallery and museum, The Wilson, is home to an impressive permanent collection, which locals can enjoy free of charge. From finding out more about Edward Wilson’s part in Scott’s Antarctic Expedition to seeing Jake and Dinos Chapman’s artwork up close, the Cheltenham venue’s diverse displays provide hours of browsing pleasure.
3. Explore iconic landmark Gloucester Cathedral
With its magical Whispering Gallery, stunning architecture and vaulted cloisters – which famously doubled as the corridors of Hogwarts – head to Gloucester Cathedral for a free spell of culture which will delight everyone from kiddies to history buffs.
4. Soak up some history at Gloucester Docks
From spotting Tall Ships and colourful barges on the water to admiring the impressive architecture on dry land, Gloucester Docks offers a slice of local history perfect for whiling a few – free – hours away.
5. Dance the night away to live music at Café Rene
Covering everything from blues and hip hop to reggae and rock, Café Rene in Gloucester is an incredibly popular live music venue, which offers free entry before 11pm to its gigs twice a week on a Wednesday and Friday – promising a great night out and the chance to see some up-and-coming talent, without the hefty ticket price.
6. See the Roman Amphitheatre in Cirencester
Head to Cirencester to see one of the largest Roman amphitheatre remains in the UK. Once seating 8,000 people, you can now visit the remains for free throughout the year.
7. Go for a splash about at Abbey Park
Just over the border in Evesham, families can enjoy some summer splashing for free at Abbey Park’s play fountains. Open from 10am to 6pm from May to September, the fountains are brilliant for cooling off on a hot day. Even better, the play fountains are easily accessible for wheelchair users too.
8. Go orienteering at Crickley Hill Country Park
With breathtaking panoramic views across the Cotswold countryside, Crickley Hill provides an active day out destination – with its orienteering course offering a unique, free outdoor adventure suitable for all ages, with downloadable maps available online.
9. Take a historical trail at Tewkesbury Abbey
Popular with locals and tourists alike, Tewkesbury Abbey boasts a rich architectural and artistic history which makes it a fascinating local venue, whether visitors wish to go on a spiritual trail, discover its heritage on the historical trail, or simply soak up the beautiful sights.
10. Go straight to jail at Tetbury Police Museum
Housed in a former police office and courtroom, the Tetbury Police Museum offers an interesting insight into the history of the Gloucestershire Constabulary, with the original office and cells still intact, along with a replica courtroom, and an array of memorabilia and photographs.
11. Enter a fairy tale world at The House of the Tailor of Gloucester
Nostalgic adults and excited children step into the wonderful world of Beatrix Potter at The House of the Tailor of Gloucester, a quaint museum which boasts rare displays and memorabilia, set within the same building which inspired the beloved author’s magical tale.
12. Play in one of Gloucestershire’s best public parks
From duck feeding, adventure play areas and boat rides, to walking trails, sports facilities and aviaries, Gloucestershire’s popular public parks offer plenty of free fun for families, nature lovers, and outdoorsy types too.
13. Get creative at Taurus Crafts
Taurus Crafts’ standing sculptures and wall exhibitions provide an engaging experience and showcase the work of talented locals; whilst visitors can also see artists working in their workshops for plenty of inspiration for creative types.
14. Stroll around a farmers’ market
Whilst you may have to part with a few pounds if you want to buy anything, mooching around a market is a great way to spend the morning without breaking the bank. Running every Saturday in Stroud from 9am to 2pm, visitors can expect everything from freshly baked breads to furniture stalls and plants.
15. Soar along to the Jet Age Museum
Aviation enthusiasts will be in their element at the Jet Age Museum, which boasts a replica of Britain’s first jet aircraft, the Gloster E28/39 and other original Gloster-built planes, in addition to an extensive document and photograph archive.
16. Walk around Cirencester Park
Open every day of the year from 8am to 5pm, Cirencester Park is nestled in the grandeur of the Bathurst Estate and is free to walk around. Glorious sweeping lawns and huge trees make the walk a free gem. Well behaved dogs can come along and you can even ride your horse through the park – if you have one.
17. Tuck into a tasty tradition at one of the best picnic spots in Gloucestershire
Picturesque views, beautiful parklands, and riverside settings don’t cost a thing, and provide the perfect setting to roll out the blanket and set up a picnic – offering a cheap and cheerful activity to enjoy with friends, family, or during a romantic getaway.
18. Make some furry friends at St James City Farm
Offering a taste of the countryside in the heart of Gloucester city, St James City Farm is home to a host of friendly animals, providing local animal lovers of all ages hours of enjoyment, and all for free.
19. Get back to nature at Robinswood Hill Country Park
Woodland walks, nature trails, and breathtaking views make Robinswood Hill Country Park a treasured outdoor attraction, which is home to a range of wildlife, in addition to historical and geological sites.
20. Wander by the river at Severn Ham in Tewkesbury
Snap some photos, view the wildlife and explore nature during a walk through the Severn Ham water meadow in Tewkesbury, home to an array of creatures and plants which tourists and residents of the market town can all enjoy.
21. Go biking at Cotswold Water Park
Home to the popular Cotswold Country Park and Beach, Cotswold Water Park is a beautiful area complete with footpaths, cyclepaths, stunning views, picnic spots, riverside walks, and more, which visitors can access free of charge.
22. Take a step back in time at Tewkesbury Museum
Explore local history at Tewkesbury Museum, which offers a glimpse into the town’s rich heritage. Home to historical artefacts and relics, the venue delves 5,000 years into the past, with Roman, Medieval and Victorian collections.
23. Get into the spirit at a free festival in Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is the capital of festivals, with an ever-increasing list of fantastic festivities going on year-round. Look out for the ‘FREE’ badge on SoGlos’s Gloucestershire events calendar for hundreds of free events each year.
24. Become a tourist in your own county
With an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty all around us, we might take the Cotswolds for granted. But there are plenty of quintessential delights to discover on the doorstep and we have found the best reasons to visit the Cotswolds – whether you want to soak up the sights, go for a ramble or snap the perfect Instagram!
25. See some local artwork at The Gardens Gallery
Showcasing the work of talented local artists, The Gardens Gallery in Montpellier unites the local community through its engaging and regularly-changing exhibitions, which draw in locals and tourists alike, and offers a pleasant viewing experience.
26. Walk the Cotswold Way
And finally, leading locals from Chipping Campden to Bath, the Cotswold Way covers 100 miles of glorious English countryside, complete with picturesque views and ancient sites to ensure that walkers have plenty to see along the trail.
By Kathryn Godfrey