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 2023.
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.
Families can enjoy free Carols on the Hour from the cathedral’s angelic choirs on Saturday 9 December 2023, 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 Mother Goose which features Tweedy's first foray as a panto dame!
Meanwhile, The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury promises big laughs at Beauty And The Beast; The Sub Rooms presents a hilarious retelling of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; and fairy tale fans can follow Jack up the beanstalk at Chipping Campden's Cidermill Theatre.
Head to Cheltenham Racecourse for The Christmas Meeting
Horse racing enthusiasts have one last chance to get their jump racing fix before the year is out, with The Christmas Meeting taking over Cheltenham Racecourse on Friday 15 and Saturday 16 December 2023.
As well as top-class equestrian action, racegoers can soak up the festive party atmosphere, with live music after each day's event, opportunities to meet Santa inside his racecourse grotto and Christmas jumpers encouraged.
Visit the new Foston's Ash Inn
After months of big changes behind closed doors, the Foston's Ash Inn is finally reopening under new owners on Saturday 9 December 2023.
With a whole new look, including an extended kitchen and revamped bar area, the iconic country pub will be serving pints from county-based breweries like DEYA, Stroud Brewery and Gloucester Brewery on tap; as well as a menu of elevated pub grub created with locally-sourced ingredients.
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, cunning booby traps and Buddy the elf's big adventure, Gloucestershire cinemas are showing Christmas classics like Elf, The Holiday, Home Alone and more — check out SoGlos's round-up of 11 festive films to catch in the county for all the details.
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 17 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 Monday 25 December 2023.
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 to support the lido 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 26 places to meet Santa Claus across the county, this December.
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 16 December 2023.
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 and join the tractor drivers for a farmyard after party!
Dine at Bishop's Cleeve's first Italian restaurant
Say 'ciao' to Bishop Cleeve's newest addition — a stylish Italian restaurant which has taken over the former NatWest bank on Church Street.
La Vecchia Banca — which translates to 'the old bank' in Italian — serves up classic Italian comfort dishes with finesse, from fresh homemade ravioli and linguine dishes to seafood, steak and plenty of pizza. Not to mention traditional aperitifs (we'll take an Aperol spritz!), fine Italian wines and desserts like tiramisu and affogato.