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5 Things Cheltenham is Famous For

If you’re looking for lovely towns in England to visit, the Gloucestershire town of Cheltenham is a brilliant choice. It’s a spa town, as well as a market town, that’s perhaps best-known for its horse racing, but it’s also known for a few other notable things. It’s a popular place for people looking for some culture and history, as well as being a good place to shop. It has everything from historical architecture to whimsical and unique features, like the clockwork fish in the Regent Arcade, which blows bubbles every half-hour.

Cheltenham is an interesting town with much to explore for travellers of all types. Have a look at some of the things that the town is famous for and why you should think about visiting.

1) Horse Racing, Cultural and Science Festivals

Cheltenham Races National Hunt at Cheltenham Racecourse
Cheltenham Races National Hunt at Cheltenham Racecourse

Cheltenham is the home of a variety of different festivals. With its famous racecourse, the most well-known of these is probably the Gold Cup National Hunt Festival, which is held in March. The steeplechase is run on the New Course at Cheltenham Racecourse, with 22 fences to jump. However, the horse racing isn’t the only festival worth visiting in Cheltenham. You can also check out the festivals for science, literature, music, and jazz.

The science and culture festivals are held from the late spring into the autumn, with the Jazz Festival taking place first. It is then followed by the Science, Music, and Literature Festivals. The jazz and science festivals each last for six days, while the music and literature festivals take place over ten days. For even more festivals, there’s the Cheltenham Cricket Festival and Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival.

2) The Cotswolds

Cheltenham Cotswolds
View across fields and farmland in the Cotswolds. Image taken from Cleeve Hill near Cheltenham in Gloucestershire.

Cheltenham is a great place to visit if you’re thinking about the Cotswolds or you’re already there. If you’re thinking about exploring Gloucestershire or the Cotswolds, Cheltenham makes a fantastic base. The Cotswolds is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and Cheltenham lies to the west of the region, with Bath to the south, Oxford to the east, and Chipping Campden in the north. Exploring the Cotswolds is a popular activity for locals, and it’s just as enjoyable for visitors to Cheltenham too.

If you decide to explore beyond Cheltenham, you can visit a huge number of places with the town as your base. Within just half an hour’s drive, or perhaps an hour, you can reach more towns, villages, and cities, as well as beautiful natural areas.

3) Regency Architecture

Pittville Pump Room Cheltenham
Pittville Pump Room Cheltenham

Cheltenham is a Regency spa town, its mineral springs having been discovered in 1716. Thanks to this, it has plenty of impressive Regency architecture, including the Pittville Pump Room, which is the last and largest of the spa buildings to be built in Cheltenham (completed in 1830). Today, you can still visit the Pump Room to sample the spring waters. You can discover plenty of examples of Regency architecture around the town, from townhouses in the Montpellier district to public buildings, such as the Wilson Art Gallery and Museums.

There was no clear set of rules for the Regency style, so as you walk around the town, you will be able to spot variations in the buildings that you find. Cheltenham has even been called Britain’s most complete Regency town, so it’s a must for architecture lovers.

4) Green Spaces

Pittville Park and Pump Room, Cheltenham
Pittville Park green space

Cheltenham has some lovely green spaces, which are ideal for anyone looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the town. Pittville Park, where you will find the Pittville Pump Room, offers 33 hectares of space and includes some of Cheltenham’s mineral wells. You can discover the aviary, where there are birds and rabbits, or the boating lake, which has a boathouse and cafe. In addition, there’s a nine-hole golf course, a kids’ play park, tennis courts, and a skatepark.

Imperial Gardens are another outdoor space to explore. Bordering the Town Hall, the formal gardens have over 25,000 flowers and host some of the festivals during the summer.

5) Posh Manor Houses

The Upper Slaughter Manor House is a picturesque Elizabethan manor set on 8 acres of landscaped gardens in Cotswolds village of Upper Slaughter
The Upper Slaughter Manor House is a picturesque Elizabethan manor set on 8 acres of landscaped gardens in Cotswolds village of Upper Slaughter

If you ask people in Gloucestershire what their impression of Cheltenham is, many will say that it’s posh or upmarket. While not everyone would agree, especially as Cheltenham has thousands of social housing properties, it’s hard to deny that there is something a little posh about Cheltenham. House prices are certainly more expensive, especially in areas such as Montpellier, and other costs can be higher too, even for visitors. However, with its location and its Regency style, it’s easy to see why a higher value is placed on the town.

Cheltenham is an excellent Gloucestershire town that everyone should visit at least once. It makes a good gateway to the Cotswolds but has plenty of its own attractions too.

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