The best of February in the Cotswolds
It doesn’t seem like to long ago that the English tourism industry closed its doors in November and did open them again until Easter. Historic houses closed, some hotels even, and there was a distinct lack of things to do. Things have changed substantially in the last few years and, in the case of the Cotswolds one might even argue that it’s one of the best times of year to visit - a chance to see the area when it’s less busy and when the comfort, luxury, and welcome of real log fires offered by local hotels are especially appreciated.
Many of our attractions open through the Winter now and, in fact, February begins with a bit of a horticultural showstopper, as visitors head off to local gardens for dramatic displays of snowdrops. Painswick Rococo Garden is one of the leading Cotswolds’ attractions at this time of year. Incredibly there thought to be over 5 million on display here (we suspect that might be an estimate), look out for Galanthus Atkinsii, a strikingly tall example of snowdrop. Check out the Rococo Loco special offer at The Painswick Hotel.
Colesbourne Park is also a magnet for visitors in February, although only open at weekends. There are 250 cultivars on the ten acre estate and the patch of Galanthus 'S.Arnott' is recognized as one of the great sights (and fragrances) of the snowdrop world. If you decide on Colesbourne we recommend one of the Charity Teas.
You can also see snowdrops at Batsford Arboretum and the National Trust’s Snowshill Manor Garden. And for that matter, if you tour the area you’ll discover them in little flashes of white at the roadside and in almost any of the copses and woods that you might find yourself passing on a longer walk in the Cotswolds.
Just one word of warning for February 2019 though, in keeping with the number of warmer winters we have experienced recently, snowdrop season started early this year. Peak time for the tiny white blooms will certainly be in the first half of the month.
In terms of the annual outdoor cycle of the Cotswolds, February means that you have the opportunity to watch lambing live at BBC Countryfile Adam Henson’s Cotswolds Farm Park. There are around 600 ewes currently expecting! The team at the Farm Park talk you through this annual routine miracle and offer access to the lambing shed. You can even bottle feed a lamb.
No racing at Cheltenham in February, things go a little quiet as they prepare for Race week in March and the Gold Cup. But remember that racing during The Festival is often a sell out, so get your tickets in. And listen out in Cotswold pubs and restaurants, you might pick up a tip or two.
Local hero Tweedy the Clown (star of posh local touring circus, Giffords), stretches his creative wings in February with a performance of Waiting for Godot at the Cheltenham Everyman Theatre. Meanwhile, from the sublime to the ridiculous, it’s the World Puddle Jumping Championships at the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust in Slimbridge (16th - 24th February). Yep, it’s as simple as it sounds.
The Cotswolds has a long association with antiques and the antiques industry and the annual CADA (Cotswolds Antique and Art Dealers Association) Fair is a highlight of the antiques and social calendar locally. World-class art and antiques will be shown by over thirty dealers at the eighth annual CADA Fair. Thousands of people attend, and it is said to be the most prestigious antiques fair outside London. The setting is Blenheim Palace and it’s no secret that the 30 or so dealers vie put forward the highest quality antiques at this event. Expect to see rare books, statues, ceramics, silverware, pictures and furniture, clocks, barometers and jewellery. Prices range from £100 to, well, considerably more. You can save a few quid in advance by downloading a free ticket here: http://www.cadafair.com (tickets include free access to the Palace grounds).
If you’d look to book into an event at one of our partner hotels, there are several in February. Calcot Manor is offering a Sibling Gin Workshop on February 14th, a Wine and Dine with Babich Wines (February 21st) and a Mindful Eating session with an aromatherapy expert on the 27th. By way of contrast, The Three Ways House Hotel offers Friday and Saturday Pudding Club events, a memorable and very ‘English’ experience. It was described by one guest as ‘like a medieval banquet with custard’. Restore the balance with a Beauty Mindfulness and Wellness Day at Whatley Manor Hotel on the 20th of February
Barnsley House Hotel runs regular cinema nights (these tend to be on Wednesdays and Sundays) in its own beautifully bespoke cinema, best bet is to combine with dinner at the nearby Village Pub.
All of these hotels are members of Cotswolds Finest Hotels, our partnership of localindependents.
Sharp eyed readers will have noticed that we’ve got to the end of a piece about February in the Cotswolds without even mentioning Valentine’s Day. Well if you’ve booked a room and dinner at a Cotswolds Finest Hotels property, you’ve made a good start. Good, invariably romantic, places for a walk can be found on the Cotswolds AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) website .
Our favourites include Broadway Tower and Painswick Beacon, two locations where you can see the geography of this amazing area at first hand. Perfect for laying the ground at your partner’s feet.
That’s our preview of February, we’ll post every month with a look at what’s coming up in the Cotswolds. 2019 already looks like a busy year. Stay tuned.