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What’s on this month in the Cotswolds

PUBLISHED: 16:46 01 February 2018 | UPDATED: 17:17 01 February 2018

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

bmmonday

It may still be cold and wintery, but February is an eventful month, and spring is just around the corner.

Winter can seem a long haul, so often full of sneezes, wheezes and foot-stamping cold. Candlemas Day (February 2) used to be regarded as being halfway through the season and an old rhyme says: “If Candlemas Day is bright and clear, There’ll be two winters in that year; But if Candlemas Day is mild or brings rain, Winter is gone and will not come again.” Best to keep a weather eye out and hope!

In any case, numerous medieval calendars reckoned spring began in February, either on the 7 or 22. Some people even argue that (amongst many other reasons) Valentine’s Day falls on February 14 due to associations with spring, new life and vigour. The custom of choosing sweethearts on Valentine’s Day arose in court circles in the 14th century, allegedly because birds began mating on this date. Another significant marker this month is February 16, which sees the beginning of the Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival.

So what does this all have to do with the Cotswolds? A preamble to the fact that February is an eventful month, including first-ever Chinese New Year fun at Blenheim Palace; that spring is around the corner and there’s plenty to enjoy out and about. Maybe dip into a few of the following treats and activities.

Snowdrop scenes

The sight of snowdrops cascading through a garden always lifts the spirits and the Cotswolds boasts some magical scenes, with spectacular displays in Newark Park’s romantic woodland gardens, and in Painswick Rococo Garden alongside colourful hellebores, cyclamen and wood anemone. At Colesbourne Park you will find 350 varieties of snowdrops and at least 150 different sorts at Rodmarton Manor. See websites for opening dates and times.

The sight of snowdrops cascading through a garden always lifts the spirits The sight of snowdrops cascading through a garden always lifts the spirits

Stepping out

Join a walk, many led by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens; there’s something to suit all abilities and interests. Challenge yourself with 500m of ascent and descent among the hills of Combe Hay, Southstoke and Midford with ‘Steep, like the Cotswolds’ (February 10); share the treat of a ‘Snowdrops Walk’ through the woodlands of Newark Park to Ozleworth Bottom, Alderley and back along the Cotswold Way (February 11); explore quiet lanes and grassy paths ‘On the Edge’ and maybe relax over lunch at Hook Norton Brewery afterwards (February 28). Find out more at the Escape the Cotswolds website.

Conifer capers

Stuck for ideas for half term? Why not take the kids for some Conifer Capers at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, and learn all about these amazing trees (February 12-15). At the Learning Centre they can get involved in arty fun and crafty activities, and take the exciting discovery challenge!

Romance in the air

Whether you’re after a memorable location to pop the question or simply want a romantic ramble with your Valentine, you’re spoiled for choice around the Cotswolds. Pause for heart-stopping views of the escarpment and Cam Long Down from Coaley Peak; wander head-in-the-clouds on Cleeve Hill (aka Cleeve Cloud); meander beside the River Windrush when glittering frost sprinkles the banks. Just you, nature and a special moment!

Cleevce Common (c) Rob Bye / Unsplash Cleevce Common (c) Rob Bye / Unsplash

Rain starts play

No need to let rain put a damper on fun. Cotswold Motoring Museum & Toy Collection re-opens for half term, so you can journey through vintage and classic car collections, or back to toys of yesteryear, and meet TV superhero Brum.

Or check out climbing sessions on the indoor walls at Far Peak Climbing Centre, Northleach, and release your inner hero. Museum in the Park, Stroud, is full of absorbing exhibits – dinosaur bones to early lawn mowers – to keep everyone fascinated.

Chinese New Year

Enjoy a traditional Double Guan Yin Chinese Lion Dance and delicious Chinese street food from stalls in the Great Court as Blenheim Palace holds Chinese New Year celebrations for the first ever time (February 17). You can even have your photo taken with the lion before exploring the Great Hall festooned with Chinese lanterns.

Chinese New Year at Blenheim Palace Chinese New Year at Blenheim Palace

Hobby heaven

There’s nothing quite like trying a new hobby for stimulating a fresh change of gear in brain and body. How about stone carving for beginners or hedgelaying for beginners? Check out these and other great courses in the Cotswolds this February and spring at Cotswolds Rural Skills.

February feasts

Gloucester Old Spot Pork, venison, tasty veggies, Single and Double Gloucester Cheese, Cotswold ales and preserves – tuck into them all in cosy pubs and restaurants. Or find seasonal goodies at Stroud Farmers’ Market and cook up a feast at home. If you want to brush up or learn culinary skills, try a course at The Cookery School at Daylesford: Quick & Simple Suppers, Seasonal Dinner Party, and Budding Chefs: Children’s Cookery are among activities in February.

Spring is just round the corner and there’s plenty to do in the Cotswolds...

For further information on the Cotswolds AONB and the Cotswolds Conservation Board, visit the Cotswolds AONB website here.

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