Christmas in Cheltenham is unique because of its traditional Regency buildings, cobbled streets and many beautiful parks and gardens that are illuminated during the festive season.
Each year, the city hosts the traditional Cheltenham Christmas Market in the town centre in December, which is a popular event for locals and visitors alike.
In addition, the Christmas gift market will take place over four days in November.
Full details and confirmed 2023 dates for both events are listed below.
Visiting Cheltenham in winter is a great way to experience the beauty of Gloucestershire in a different way. From the fresh, crisp air to the stunning winter sunsets over the Town Hall, Cheltenham is an interesting destination for a winter break.
Cheltenham Christmas Market 2023
The Christmas market in Cheltenham is well worth visiting. It offers around 80 Christmas stalls, many of which are hosted by local providers, artisans and makers.
You can find all the classic festive food and drinks, decorations, toys and unique Christmas gifts.
The market also puts on a variety of festive activities for children, including an opportunity to meet Santa, making it an excellent choice for a festive family outing.
This market opens earlier than many other Christmas markets in the UK. To avoid the busiest times, visit first thing in the morning during the week.
Dates and Location
Christmas Gift Market dates: 16th to 19th November 2023.
Cheltenham Christmas Market dates: 14th to 23rd December 2023.
Location: The Promenade and Long Gardens.
Opening times: Monday to Wednesday: 9am to 5pm. Thursday: 9am to 7pm. Friday and Saturday: 9am to 5pm. Sunday: 9am to 4pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on dates: The Brewery Quarter: Saturday 18th November 2023. Pittville Pump Room: Saturday 25th November 2023.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: A family-friendly event with unique shopping.
Where to stay: No131 The Promenade is a highly-rated hotel located directly at the Christmas markets.
Hotels near Cheltenham Christmas Market
This year the Christmas markets are located in the streets around Cheltenham Town Hall. This also is one of the best areas to stay in Cheltenham, so if you can find a hotel nearby, you will have everything at your door.
I suggest staying at No131 The Promenade as it’s located on the Promenade, which is the location of the Christmas market.
Location of Cheltenham Christmas Market
Christmas in Cheltenham
There is lots more to see this Christmas. Read my guide to the UK Christmas markets 2023 to discover more destinations.
Food at the Christmas Market
Cotswold Pies: At the Cheltenham Christmas Market, local pie producers serve up the quintessential British snack. These pies, filled with high-quality meats or vegetarian fillings sourced from the Cotswolds, are a hearty and satisfying way to fuel your festive shopping.
Hog Roast Rolls: No Christmas market in the UK would be complete without a hog roast roll. High-quality pork, slow-roasted for hours until it’s falling apart, is served in a crusty roll with apple sauce and stuffing. This traditional British treat’s taste truly evokes the season’s spirit.
Mulled Wine and Cider: It’s the time of year to enjoy a heart-warming mug of mulled wine or cider. Spiced and gently heated, these drinks are sure to keep the cold at bay. Look out for local Gloucestershire cider for a truly Cheltenham experience.
International Street Foods: While local delicacies shine at the Christmas markets in Cheltenham, you can also find a selection of international street foods. Stalls serving Spanish churros, German bratwurst and French crepes offer a global taste experience amid the British surroundings.
Cheltenham Cheese: Cheese lovers will be delighted to find stalls selling cheeses from local dairy farms. Cheltenham has a strong dairy farming history, and this is reflected in the range and quality of the cheese you can sample and buy.
Festive Baked Treats: The sweet scent of freshly baked mince pies and Christmas pudding fills the air at the market. These traditional British desserts, filled with rich, spiced fruit and often enjoyed with a dollop of brandy cream, are a staple of any British Christmas.
What to Buy
Handmade Christmas Decorations: At the Christmas Market and Craft Festival, you’ll find an array of local artisans selling beautiful handmade decorations. From delicately painted baubles to hand-carved wooden nativity figures, these items add a unique, personal touch to any Christmas tree or festive display.
Local Cotswold Honey: The Cotswolds is renowned for its rich, aromatic honey. Jars of this golden nectar, produced by local bees that have feasted on wildflowers in the undulating Cotswold hills, make thoughtful gifts for food lovers.
Cheltenham Cheese: Cheese from local dairy farms, renowned for their creamy, rich flavours, can be found at the market. Pair a selection with some local chutneys and crackers for the perfect cheeseboard or gift for a gourmand.
Cotswold Gin: The area around Cheltenham is home to several small distilleries that craft exceptional gins. Often using locally sourced botanicals, these spirits capture the essence of the Cotswolds in a bottle.
Hand-knitted Woolen Goods: Woolen scarves, hats and gloves hand-knitted by local craftspeople are a highlight at Cheltenham. Not only do these items keep you warm in the winter chill, but they also make for wonderful personal gifts.
British Christmas Puddings and Mince Pies: Traditional British festive fares, like Christmas puddings and mince pies, are abundant at the market. Handmade using traditional recipes, they are the perfect treat to take home for your own celebrations or to gift to a lover of British cuisine.
The Christmas markets provide a wonderful opportunity to buy unique gifts, sample delicious food and drink, and support local businesses and artisans.
Several events are taking place in Cheltenham at this time of year. Visit Cheltenham is the city’s official website. They have information regarding what’s on and the best ways to experience Cheltenham at Christmas. Their events page is a great place to start if you’re looking for things to do at Christmas.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability. I’ve listed some small actions we can take to help lower our impact at these events in Cheltenham.
Travel by Train or Bus: Cheltenham’s location in the heart of the Cotswolds makes it accessible by public transport. Instead of taking the car, I’d encourage you to travel by train or bus to reduce your carbon footprint. Cheltenham Spa railway station, for instance, provides excellent connections to major cities.
Cycle around the City: Once you’re in Cheltenham, consider hiring a bike from one of the local bike rental services. It’s a fun and green way to get around, especially if you plan to explore the stunning Regency architecture or the beautiful parks.
Eat Locally-Sourced Food: The Christmas market in Cheltenham is a perfect opportunity to opt for a sustainable diet. Many of the stalls offer delicious food made with locally sourced, plant-based, seasonal ingredients. So, you not only get to enjoy some of the best that Gloucestershire has to offer but also support local farmers.
Choose Renewable Energy Accommodations: A growing number of accommodations in Cheltenham are turning to renewable energy sources. Look for hotels or B&Bs that use solar power, ground source heat pumps, or other renewable sources to reduce your energy footprint during your stay.
Avoid Food Waste: In the spirit of reducing food waste, be mindful of your purchases at the market. Buy only what you’re sure you’ll consume. In addition, many food vendors at the market use compostable containers and cutlery, so make sure to dispose of them properly.
Support Ethical Consumption: Finally, at the Christmas market, seek out local artisans who use ethically sourced materials and sustainable methods. When buying gifts, look for indications that the products have been made with consideration for the environment and fair labour practices.
By following these tips, your visit to Cheltenham this Christmas can be filled with festive cheer while also being kind to our planet.
Cheltenham Christmas Market 2023 dates include the Christmas Gift Market: 16th to 19th November 2023 and the main Cheltenham Christmas Market: 14th to 23rd December 2023.are from 14th to 23rd December 2023
The Christmas markets in Cheltenham are located at Promenade and Long Gardens in the city centre.
The Cheltenham Christmas markets are open Monday to Wednesday: 9am to 5pm. Thursday: 9am to 7pm. Friday and Saturday: 9am to 5pm. Sunday: 9am to 4pm.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Cheltenham, UK. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.