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8 Christmas events in The Cotswolds that are safe to explore

Like most things this year, Christmas will be a little different, especially in the following weeks with many Christmas markets cancelled. However, that doesn’t mean the festive season needs to be any less exciting. The Cotswolds being home to beautiful nature, gardens and outdoor spaces means there are plenty of events this season to get you in the festive mood. Whether that’s exploring a Christmas themed cave or staring in awe at colourful light shows.

We’ve chosen eight of our favourite events taking places around The Cotswolds to celebrate the festive season and bring a little more Christmas magic in our lives.

Christmas at Clearwell Caves

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Wander through the magical underground forest and spot woodland animals preparing for their special Christmas Day! Your journey through the caverns will take you through a twinkling underground festive world to see Santa Claus. With things a little different this year, each child will receive their present from Santa after leaving the caves before exploring the Christmas stalls and takeaway cafe above ground.

Online booking is essential and the event runs from 4th - 24th December

Painswick Naughty Elf Trail

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Friends of the Croft School have invited a group of 20 naughty Christmas elves to the picturesque village of Painswick for the first week of the school holidays. Household groups can follow a map to spot elves in window displays across the village, complete the trail and solve the anagram for a chance to win a £200 John Lewis voucher.

The Painswick Naughty Elf Trail will run from 18th-23rd December and it’s specially designed to be Covid-safe whatever level of local restrictions may be in place. Maps cost just £3 and you can buy them online here.

The Big Batsford Elf Hunt!

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Another chance to spot Santa’s little helpers, Batsford’s hunt will have the whole family exploring the beautiful arboretum for the elves that have gone missing. Find them all and you win a prize! The Elf Hunt is most suitable for children aged 8 and under, however children of all ages are welcome to take part!

Running until the 3rd January, book your admissions tickets online to Batsford Arboretum and Garden centre, and to participate in the big elf hunt, £2.50 is payable upon arrival.

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum

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Discover the trees of Westonbirt Arboretum in a whole new light along the Christmas illuminated trail this December. Rumour has it that Father Christmas has workshops all over the world to help him get ready for Christmas, and the West Pole can be found right here, among the trees of Westonbirt Arboretum. Set out on an adventure to find the West Pole and experience mesmerising light displays and stunning spectacles along the way. Meet Santa’s elves, come across talking trees and make your way through the candy cane forest on your quest to the West Pole.

You can book tickets online and the dates for the Enchanted Christmas event are: 4th - 6th December, 10th - 13th December and 18th - 21th December.

Enchanted Light Trail at Cotswold Farm Park

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See the farm in a whole new light and explore a magical trail of colour, lights and sparkle this winter. A family friendly display, let the lights guide you on an enchanting stroll through the farm park after hours with plenty of opportunities to meet the furry residents and pick up seasonal hot food and drinks en route. For many, this will be the first time exploring the Farm Park at night, and it’s the perfect place to create magical memories that last a lifetime.

Running until the 3rd January, book your tickets online now so you don’t miss out.

Sudeley Castle and Gardens Spectacle of Light

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Wander through the beautiful illuminated trail around Sudeley Castle’s stunning grounds. Returning for its 5th year, characters from The Nutcracker can be spotted throughout the gardens and enchanted woodland as the gardens and water fountains transform into colourful displays with light beams, lanterns and sparkling water features flickering with fire.

Sip mulled wine or hot chocolate as you enjoy the wonderful symphonies that accompany the displays and see this timeless castle in a completely new light.

Taking place on selected evenings between 4th - 30th December, book your tickets online here.

Carols by Car Light at Cheltenham Race Course

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With carol concerts also off the radar this year, churches from across Cheltenham have ingeniously come together to form a very special Christmas drive-in celebration. Park up in front of a giant screen and tune-in on your car radio to sing along to well-known Christmas carols and readings from the safety and comfort of your own car.

All the costs of this event are being covered by the churches who support the Love Cheltenham initiative and a donation of £3 per car will go towards supporting the work of the Cheltenham Foodbank.

Find out more on the Love Cheltenham website.

Santa's Coming to Slimbridge

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Make a tasty breakfast or afternoon tea more fun and meet Santa and his elves at Slimbridge Wetlands Centre! You’ll receive a gift from Santa Claus himself, all while enjoying the gorgeous food and magnificent backdrop of a colourful flock of flamingos.

After a magical meal, wrap up warm and escape to the fresh air to explore over 100 acres of nature filled wetland paradise.

A fantastic option if you’re looking for a festive experience in the morning or during the day, it’s a lovely way to unwind and spend some precious time in beautiful surroundings. Book your breakfast or afternoon tea slots online here.

Virtual Christmas Markets

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If you absolutely love Christmas but are a little nervous to be exploring outdoors, then not to worry! Usually popular Christmas events across The Cotswolds, the famous Bath Christmas Market and Oxford Christmas market have taken to the online world so you can still shop for special gifts this Christmas from independent makers and stallholders.

Explore the Virtual Oxford Christmas market here.

Explore the Virtual Bath Christmas market here.