Gloucester has a vibrant, lively atmosphere that combines a rich historic past with all the excitement and attractions of a city just full of life, begging to be explored. Here you will find Roman foundations, Victorian Docklands and the magnificent Norman Cathedral rubbing shoulders with a bustling city centre with a range of shops, restaurants, wine bars, pubs, entertainment and unique visitor attractions. The Cathedral weaves a special charm and magic that proved irresistible as one of the settings for the Harry Potter movies. There is also a large park which hosts events throughout the year and four fascinating museums.
Gloucester hosts several exciting events, such as the Tall Ships festival, Gloucester Blues Festival and the Gloucester Quays Food Festival, and has a sporting reputation with Kingsholm Rugby Ground.
There is a large variety of shops - from High street favourites, supermarkets, a Designer Outlet at Gloucester Quays and a number of speciality shops in the Westgate Quarter.
Gloucester is well served by a train station on a main line and many bus services to other towns in the area.
Accommodation: Gloucester’s accommodation is of the historical variety – from old coaching inns with low beams to manor houses with spa facilities. There are also welcoming bed & breakfasts not far from the city centre.
Special offers in Gloucester
Hotels, B&Bs and Apartments in Gloucester
Self-catering accommodation in Gloucester
Attractions: Gloucester is steeped in history. It is most famous for its Norman Cathedral, made famous by the Harry Potter films as the setting for Hogwarts School. It is also noted as the burial place of King Edward II.
The historic Victorian docks are also popular with visitors, described by Charles Dickens himself as ‘extraordinary’, and granted port status by Queen Elizabeth I in 1580. Gloucester is the most inland port in Britain, and the docks are dominated by towering warehouses which stand proud along the water’s edge. Visitors can see skilled shipwrights and riggers repairing, restoring and building traditional ships and rigging all year round in Tommi Nielsen’s dry dock on the West Quay.
The city has four museums – Gloucester Folk Museum, offering a look at domestic life in Gloucestershire through the ages; Gloucester City Museum which guides visitors through Gloucester’s history back to the Roman times and beyond; The National Waterways Museum showing off Gloucestershire’s historical canal network, and the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum with a huge selection of military paraphernalia highlighting Gloucester’s connections with past wars.
Eating Out: Like its accommodation, Gloucester offers a range of restaurants and cafes within old buildings, such as the historical Café Rene – an ancient inn with a hint of French style, or Robert Raikes House – used for many purposes over the centuries and yards away from the birthplace of Robert Raikes, founder of Sunday School - now also a great pub.
Festivals and Events: Gloucester holds several festivals in the city throughout the year. There are Christmas markets in November and December, music festivals in the park and Guildhall and a carnival in summer. The Gloucester Rhythm & Blues Festival takes place at the Café Rene every year, spilling onto the land around the ruins of Greyfriars House and the Church of St Mary de Crypt. Gloucester Quays regularly hold events such as the food & drink festival, featuring demonstrations from chefs such as Rob Rees The Cotswold Chef, Gino D’Acampo and James Martin. There is a Tall Ships Festival every other year, which sees a host of historical ships moor up in Gloucester Docks for visitors to admire. Gloucester is also one of the homes of the Three Choirs Festival.
History: Gloucester was one of the most important towns in Roman Britain and was known as ‘Glevum’. Gloucester remained important after the fall of Rome, particularly when an Abbey (the current Cathedral) was founded by the King of Mercia. Edward the Confessor also came regularly to Gloucester to meet his generals. After the Norman invasion, William the Conqueror continued to use Gloucester as a meeting place and even commissioned the Domesday Book here.
In more recent times, Gloucester has a strong engineering history – the vacuum cleaner was invented by Hubert Cecil Booth of Gloucester, and the first jet engine to fly, created by Sir Frank Whittle, was manufactured in and named after Gloucester. Gloucester was also an important area in the wool trade. Much of the town’s history can be explored in the two wonderful museums – at a civic level in the City Museum, and a domestic level in the Folk Museum.
The Gloucester XII
Early in 2011, the residents of Gloucester were asked to vote for their favourite historic buildings and locations. With more than 500 listed buildings and numerous well-loved locations dotted around the city, the response was broad and varied, but after sifting through the mountains of correspondence and listening to many stories about Gloucester and what it means to people, a number of much-loved heritage sites, buildings and features stood out as clear favourites. The Gloucester XII are:
- Gloucester Cathedral
- The New Inn
- Gloucester Folk Museum
- St Mary de Crypt
- Gloucester Docks
- The Old Bell
- Beatrix Potter Museum
- 26 Westgate Street
- Robert Raikes' Inn
- Brunswick Square
- St Oswald's Priory
A set of 12 postcards and a companion booklet featuring stunning new photography and the history behind these locations has been released and are available to buy in the Gloucester Tourist Information Centre on Southgate Street. The images have been carefully selected to bring out the detail of these iconic buildings and hidden gems.
Find out more about Gloucester here.