When you work in the hotel in the Cotswolds, London friends are sometimes envious - but sometimes what we do for theatre and entertainment. "You live in the country", they say - where do you go? Well, it doesn't take long to explain that from Cotswolds you can head north to Shakespeare's Stratford-Upon-Avon, south to Bath. Oxford is nearby and Cheltenham has a lively theatre scene. There are open air theatre productions and even opera in the countryside. We also have a unique circus called Giffords.
Stratford is always exciting to go to, within reach of your hotel in the Cotswolds' northern area, especially around places such as Chipping Campden and Moreton in Marsh. There are in fact three theatres at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre site - and they don't just offer Shakespeare productions either. If you're visiting Stratford late Autumn or Winter look out for Christmas productions - this year for example they are performing Charles Dickens A Christmas Carol.
Sometimes the chance to see a performance in an historic theatre is part of the appeal of a stay at a hotel in the Cotswolds. Bath's Theatre Royal is a beautiful
building, dating from 1750. You can see musicals and plays in a unique setting - the theatre is so old that there are ghost stories associated with it - the backstage area is said to be haunted by a Grey Lady, cast members have also seen a ghostly doorman. And a butterfly painted backdrop is never removed from the building for fear of bad luck - a story dating back to an accident at the theatre when the butterfly scenery was in use. From time to time a real butterfly appears in the theatre, which is thought to be a sign of very good luck.
Cheltenham has an historic theatre too - designed by a famous theatre designer named Frank Matcham, in 1891. In the Winter, a traditional hotel in the Cotswolds is a good match with a another British tradition - pantomime. Pantomime is basically a musical comedy theatre performance for families, drawing on a stock of well known stories such as Aladdin, Puss in Boots and the Babes in the Wood. For the rest of the year there is a programme of theatre, musicals and comedy at the theatre which is called the Everyman.
Open air theatre is popular, despite Britain's reputation for changeable weather. In fact one of the most popular groups locally is called the 'Rain or Shine Shakespeare Company'. It's fun though, you take a picnic, a bottle of wine and a warm blanket to watch live outdoor theatre in a local historic garden. Afterwards head back to your hotel in the Cotswolds for a nightcap and the chance to talk it all through.
Longborough Opera is a critically successful summer opera event in the North Cotswolds. The venue is a private theatre built by a local opera enthusiast. You can watch Mozart or Wagner productions in the countryside, surrounded by beautiful scenery, with chickens and sheep in the fields nearby.
The Cotswolds has its own circus, called Giffords Circus. Giffords tours the area in the summer months - a non-verbal performance by humans and horses that is charming and entertaining - probably the only Circus ever to be reviewed by Vogue magazine.
We'd really recommend some theatre as part of a hotel / Cotswolds break - it's less expensive than elsewhere and means you can experiment a little. The settings audience and the spectacle are just as entertaining.