Cheltenham has been welcoming visitors for almost three hundred years, ever since the discovery of the first natural spring in 1716 led to the development of this fashionable, vibrant, Regency spa town with its painted stucco facades and intricate ironwork balconies. It has an exceptional range of quality accommodation, fabulous cafes, bars, pubs and restaurants, with outside seating areas offering a café culture and cosmopolitan atmosphere, and award-winning stylish shopping.
As the cultural centre for the Cotswolds, it has an abundance of fantastic festivals all year round, from regular horseracing meets held at the town's famous Cheltenham Racecourse, culminating in the Gold Cup at The Festival in March, through to the internationally renowned four main festivals of Jazz, Science, Music and Literature. With Poetry, Food and Drink, Ukulele, Cricket, the popular family Wychwood Festival and even a Wine Festival, there is something for everyone to enjoy. Comedy, dance, concerts and a wide variety of entertainment take place in many venues including Cheltenham Town Hall, Everyman Theatre and Bacon Theatre, with music to suit all tastes in pubs and bars. At The Brewery Centre visit the IMAX cinema or go ten-pin bowling. Good sports and leisure facilities are also available at the sports centre.
Not to be missed is The Wilson, Gloucestershire’s premier museum & art gallery, hosting critically-acclaimed exhibitions, an internationally important Arts & Crafts collection and information on the Antarctic explorer Edward Wilson, who was born in Cheltenham in 1872. Other famous Cheltenham sons include Gustav Holst (b. 1874), whose birthplace you can visit, and don’t forget the magnificent Grade I listed Pittville Pump Room in Pittville Park, where you can still taste the spa waters (Wed – Sun events permitting). Cheltenham is renowned for its beautiful floral displays, to be found in Cheltenham’s parks and gardens - visit Sandford Park with its 1930s open air lido. 14th century St Mary’s Minster, with its stained glass and rose window, is the oldest building in Cheltenham and well worth a visit. Stroll around Montpellier or The Suffolks for a village feel and boutique shops and cafes. There is something to surprise you around every corner, from the Michelin two-starred restaurant Le Champignon Sauvage to a converted art deco cinema,The Daffodil restaurant.
A popular academic destination, see the neo-Gothic school buildings of Cheltenham College and the Ladies’ College built in the French-Gothic style with a remarkable bronze dome, with The Neptune Fountain on the Promenade and the caryatids in Montpellier (armless ladies), based on those on Athens’ Acropolis, are also well worth seeing.
Cheltenham is an ideal place to stay for touring around the Cotswolds, particularly around The Romantic Road touring route. It has good airport, train, bus and National Express links and is less than a hundred miles from London, providing easy access from all parts of the UK and overseas.
For further information visit www.visitcheltenham.com or call in at Cheltenham Tourist Information Centre at The Wilson in Clarence Street.