Five fabulous attractions that make Cheltenham a terrific place to visit

The spa town of Cheltenham sits on the edge of the Cotswolds, in the county of Gloucester. This endearing town is packed with places to see and things to do, but unfortunately, the way things stand, not much is open just now.

Anyone planning to visit Cheltenham shouldn’t lose heart, however. This is all just temporary, and soon the attractions will be open and delighting visitors just as they’ve always done. Below is a look at five fabulous the attractions that make Cheltenham such a terrific place to visit.

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest days in the horse racing calendar and takes place at Cheltenham Racecourse. The racecourse, which has been described as the ‘Home of Jump Racing’, sits in Prestbury on the outskirts of the town.

The festival is an annual, four-day feast of racing and, on the last day, features the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup Steeplechase. It’s a dramatic race of around 3 miles and 2.5 furlongs, and the horses have to clear 22 fences. Anything can happen. In 2020, this last day of the festival drew in a crowd of 68,859.

Unfortunately, the festival will be a televised event this year, with no spectators at the course at all. Although, you’ll be able to able to follow the event and back the racing tips here.

Pittville Park

Pittville Park opened in 1825 and enjoys the proud distinction of being the largest ornamental park in Cheltenham. The gardens were designed by Richard Ware for the wealthy lawyer, banker, and Joseph Pitt, and the park has flown a Green Flag and enjoyed Green Heritage accreditation since 2016.  

If you visit Pittville Park, you’ll find it divided into two main parts by the Evesham Road. The eastern side is home to the children’s play area and is where people can view wildlife. People also go nonchalantly about their business on that side with the impressive Pittville Pump Room standing over them. When the Pump Room isn’t serving as a venue for weddings, parties, and corporate events, you can sample the historically medicinal waters of the Pump Room fountain.

Meanwhile, on the western side of the road, you’ll find the larger area of the park and small areas of woodland. There’s also a lower lake at which you can fish during fishing season. That’s not the only activity, however. There’s a skate park, putting and pitching green, tennis courts, and a small children’s play area.

Sandford Park

Pitville Park may be stealing the show, but Sandford Park is just as pleasant. The ornamental water features and fountains add real character to this park that gets its name from the sandy soil and the old ford over the brook.

Sandford Park sits at the end of the High Street, in the town centre, and is ideal for picnics. A small river, the River Chelt, which takes its name from the town, flows through the park. A winding path leads to the river and to the cascade pools, and on a good day you may even be lucky enough to see a kingfisher. This isn’t the only wildlife you’ll see, as the park has lots of tame squirrels and boasts a pleasing reputation for its wildlife.

Holst Birthplace Museum

Cheltenham was the birthplace of the 19th century English composer Gustav Holst, and visitors can visit the home in which he was born when this museum reopens. You’ll receive a taste of what Victorian life was like, as the home boasts a working Victorian kitchen, scullery, and nursery.

The museum also allows you to discover the composer’s life and times by allowing you into his music room. Here is where he composed The Planets. You can even see the piano on which he put together his famous work.

Throughout the year, the museum puts on a range of exhibitions and activities. If you happen to be visiting with children, they’ll enjoy the ‘Bake Back in Time’. This is no ordinary baking class, since it uses the working coal-fired range.

Sudeley Castle

Head eight miles of north east of Cheltenham and you’ll arrive at the elegant Sudeley Castle. This private castle, which is surrounded by views of the Cotswolds, holds the claim to fame of being the only castle in England to have a queen buried in the grounds. In this case, it’s Katherine Parr, the last wife of Henry VII. She was also the surviving wife and lived and died in the castle.

The castle has witnessed all sorts of drama throughout its history and is one of the most interesting Tudor castles you’ll ever visit. You’ll be able to view exhibitions, telling of some of the incredible events that have occurred here, and see some rare items. Then you can take a stroll in one, or all, of the 10 magnificent gardens belonging to the premises.

All of these attractions make Cheltenham a marvellous place to visit. The town’s location in the picturesque Cotswolds allows visitors to soak up some culture while also being close to the countryside and all its resplendent greenery. Visiting Cheltenham makes for a beautiful British getaway, and soon it won’t be long before everything opens back up again.

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