Experience the wonders of Winchcombe's Christmas Festival
PUBLISHED: 12:40 03 December 2018 | UPDATED: 12:40 03 December 2018
"We're looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town."
When it comes to celebrating, the picturesque historic town of Winchcombe does so with style, warmth and generosity. Throughout 2018 it has held festivals for Walking, Wartime in the Cotswolds, Music and Arts, Cotswold Beer, and of course the wonderful Winchcombe Country Show. But this month epitomises everything that’s great about this inviting friendly, all-inclusive hard-working community – the Winchcombe Christmas Festival.
It’s a favourite event on the local calendar and this winter wonderland experience attracts people from the local area and miles around as it helps celebrate what the festive season is all about.
Shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants will throw open their doors for the town’s annual festive celebration from 5pm until 8pm, on Tuesday, December 4. If previous events are anything to go by, it marks the start of a traditional Cotswold Christmas with a capital T.
“Winchcombe is a truly welcoming place year-round, but it is even more so at Christmas,” says Phil Parker, who is coordinating this year’s festival.
“Our wonderful independent shops and restaurants come together to offer a real warm Winchcombe welcome to townsfolk and visitors alike, and our ancient architecture surrounded by stunning Cotswold countryside is even more breath-taking in winter time.”
“We’re looking forward to lots of festive fun this Christmas festival and hope to welcome lots of people to our town.”
North Street and Abbey Terrace will be full of Christmas market stalls and delicious hot food stalls will showcase a seasonal selection of fine food and drink and locally-made crafts and gifts.
Father Christmas will arrive in his brightly-lit sleigh before appearing with his elves in a special Grotto in the Guide Hall, with all proceeds supporting local charities in Winchcombe.
More than 70 sparkling Christmas trees help light up the plethora of the town’s fine historic buildings and add to the magical atmosphere, whilst performances from local bands, schools, church and community groups will provide live entertainment and add to the festive spirit. A little later in December, Winchcombe Rotary Club will be hosting Father Christmas once again and transport him on his sleigh around the town on several evenings, to provide local children with some excitement in the lead up to Christmas.
Last year over 2,000 people attended the Winchcombe Christmas Festival which is becoming a firm family favourite in the Cotswold Christmas calendar. The event, organised by Winchcombe Together Association with huge support from Winchcombe Rotary Club, is a real show of Christmas spirit. It brings together businesses, traders, charities and community groups to share what makes the town such a great place to live, work and visit.
“It will be a fabulous night, wonderful atmosphere, full of joy and Christmas spirit with the whole town involved in this wonderful Winchcombe experience,” adds Phil.
Ruth McDonagh, who is a local resident and member of Winchcombe Together, echoes his sentiments.
“There’s nothing more festive than twinkling lights on Cotswold stone, dancing log fires, warmed mulled wine and yummy Yuletide menus,” she says.
“We’ve an array of unique shops and stalls bearing quality presents and friendly, smiling faces. That’s Christmas in Winchcombe.”
Another festive event not to miss in Winchcombe is this year’s beautiful illuminated trail through the grounds, majestic trees and romantic ruins of Sudeley Castle. Spectacle of Light takes place on December 8-9, 13-23 and 27-30. Visitors will be able to experience an amazing trail around Sudeley Castle’s stunning grounds, marvelling at the romantic ruins and majestic gardens, all lit under the stars. This year, visitors can enjoy the night-time magic by following the White Rabbit, discovering other amazing characters from Alice in Wonderland as well as marvelling at the glorious Field of Poppies, Meteors and Moroccan Lanterns. Festive warmers of mulled wine and hot chocolate will also be available while those who want to can tuck into festive food on the castle terrace.
As well as its castle, beautiful walks, attractive independent shops, great restaurants and pubs and festivals, the restored railway GWSR is also a popular attraction at this time of year. From December 1 to December 24, there is an opportunity to travel by steam train from Cheltenham Racecourse to Winchcombe (North Pole) through a long-curved tunnel on the Santa Special at GWR, and visit Santa and his elves in his grotto. When travellers arrive at Winchcombe station, the elves will meet them off the train and make sure they have plenty of time to visit Santa and receive excellent presents especially selected by him for each age group before the train returns to Cheltenham. Alternatively, there’s an opportunity to travel from Toddington station by an early 1960s diesel rail car with Santa and his young elves on board the train, spending lots of time sitting with each family. This is an ideal visit for smaller children who might be afraid of Santa in a dark grotto.
As the people of Winchcombe celebrate this special season, there’s much to be thankful for; the dedication of hard-working people and the beautiful place where they live.
I leave the final words to Bob Turner who is both Chairman of a local business networking club and Winchcombe Together Association.
“I love Christmas because it brings families and friends together and our festival provides the ideal opportunity for them to do that.”
Winchcombe Christmas Festival takes place on Tuesday, December 4, 5pm – 8pm. For more information on all of these events and attractions, visit Winchcombe’s excellent website: winchcombe.co.uk.