10 unmissable things to do in Gloucestershire this December

From exhilarating Christmas Day swims to side-splitting pantos, fill your December with 10 unmissable things to do in Gloucestershire.

By Annabel Lammas  |  Published
Have the merriest Christmas in Gloucestershire, with 10 unmissable things to do in the county this December 2022.
Have the merriest Christmas in Gloucestershire, with 10 unmissable things to do in the county this December 2022.
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Christmas has officially arrived in Gloucestershire and the Cotswolds, with Santa meet-and-greets, festive events and even a convoy of twinkly-lit tractors to look forward to throughout December 2022.

SoGlos has the jolliest month of the year covered, rounding up 10 unmissable things to do across the county in the lead-up to Christmas.

Soak up the festive atmosphere at Gloucester Cathedral

With its signature giant Christmas tree all decked out for the season, Gloucester Cathedral is a gorgeous destination to soak up some festive joy this December.

With a host of events planned in the run-up to Christmas, families can also enjoy Carols on the Hour from the cathedral’s choirs on Saturday 17 December 2022; with exclusive opportunities to visit the beautiful building after dark when it’s spectacularly lit, too.

Catch a pantomime in Gloucestershire

It just isn’t Christmas without a jolly good panto (oh no it isn’t!) and Gloucestershire families are spoilt for choice this December. Don’t miss the return of the ever-brilliant Everyman Theatre pantomime, this year presenting Dick Whittington and His Cat Tweedy which features plenty of satire, sequins and viral TikTok dance sensations.

Meanwhile, The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury promises big laughs at Snow White; and fairy tale fans can find out if the glass slipper fits as Cinderella takes to the stage at The Sub Rooms in Stroud.​

Head to Cheltenham Racecourse for The International

Horse racing enthusiasts have one last chance to get their jump racing fix before the year is out, with The International meeting taking over Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday 9 and Saturday 10 December 2022.

As well as top-class equestrian action, racegoers can soak up the festive party atmosphere, with live music after each day's event and Christmas jumpers encouraged.

Watch your favourite Christmas movie on one of Gloucestershire's big screens

Get the family together for a wholesome trip to the movies, with plenty of Christmas film screenings to sprinkle festive cheer across Gloucestershire this December.

Bringing stories of holiday house-swaps and Buddy the elf's big adventure to St Andrews Church in Cheltenham, don't miss the Alfresco Film Company's screenings of Elf and The Holiday on Friday 16 December 2022.​

Find your perfect real Christmas tree in Gloucestershire

Dust off the decorations and start untangling those fairy lights – it’s Christmas tree time! Whether you’re looking to buy or rent a real tree this year, there are lots of places to hunt for the perfect spruce in Gloucestershire.

From family-run farms and independent retail nurseries to local arboretums, make choosing your tree a truly festive occasion – with SoGlos’s pick of 18 places to buy your Christmas tree in Gloucestershire providing some inspiration.

Brave the Christmas swim at Sandford Parks Lido

It’s certainly a unique way to start your Christmas morning but Sandford Parks Lido attracts hundreds of courageous swimmers for an icy cold dip every year – with its iconic Christmas Day Swim taking place at 11am on Sunday 25 December 2022.

The wacky event is sure to be a talking point over the turkey, so grab your Santa hat and take the plunge. The event is free to attend but donations are very welcome.

Meet Father Christmas in Gloucestershire

From bonding with the big man over breakfast at Trioscape Garden Centre, to meeting him and his elves aboard one of Dean Forest Railway’s vintage trains, there are plenty of chances for excited kids to catch a glimpse of Father Christmas in Gloucestershire.

And SoGlos has families covered, rounding up a whopping 28 places to meet Santa Claus across the county, this December.

Blow off the Christmas cobwebs at Painswick Rococo Garden

After enjoying all those mince pies, mulled wines and Christmas leftovers, stretch your legs and get some much-needed fresh air at Painswick Rococo Garden – open to visitors from Monday 26 December 2022 to Monday 2 January 2023.

Families can wander around the fanciful gardens, search for the centre of the quirky maze and complete the new festive trail by helping Unipiggle to find his missing friends before cosying up in the café for a marshmallow and cream-topped hot chocolate.

The attraction is open for Christmas fun on selected dates throughout December, too, for anyone who wants to visit before the big day.

Catch a glimpse of the Cotswolds' famous illuminated tractors

Take a trip over the Oxfordshire border to witness one of the Cotswolds' quirkiest Christmas traditions, as the country lanes are lit up by a convoy of fairy-lit tractors on Saturday 17 December 2022.

With local farmers expected to go all out, decorating their vehicles with giant inflatables and flashing displays, grab a place by the roadside to see the twinkly festive showcase. Families can even vote for their favourite tractor to win this year's best dressed accolade on the official Banbury Christmas Tractor Run Facebook page.

Belt out festive classics at a Christmas carol concert

It's time to practice your fa-la-las and commit the 12 days of Christmas to memory, all ready for a festive sing-a-long at one of Gloucestershire's carol concerts.

Warm up your vocal chords and get involved at a community carol service; or sit back, leave it to the professionals and enjoy an evening of live music and entertainment – with Down for the Count bringing Swing into Christmas to Cheltenham Town Hall on Tuesday 13 December 2022.

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