The best time to visit the Cotswolds

With its pretty villages of honey-colored stone cottages, rolling hills laced with quiet rivers and historic pubs that serve modern takes on traditional food, the Cotswolds is quintessential England. But when should you visit?

As one of the most beautiful parts of the country, the typical peak season of summer draws crowds to the narrow lanes of the Cotswolds’ quiet villages – but the area is so charming that there’s something to discover at any time of the year.

Here’s our season-by-season, month-by-month guide for planning when to visit the Cotswolds.

June to August is best for long summer days

This is peak season in the Cotswolds. Between June and August, the calendar is packed with events and school holidays, and you can expect busy roads, brimming restaurants, premium-priced hotels and busting shops. If this is the only time period that works for you, though, all the summer events make a visit here still well worth it.

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September and October are best for autumn colors – and the best months to visit the Cotswolds

Wedged between the heat of summer and the festivities (and crowds) of Christmas, autumn might be the best time to be in the Cotswolds. Accommodation prices roll back to acceptable levels, and the whole area is more relaxed. In between laid-back countryside walks, you can find a table at a pub without booking in advance.

Towns in the Cotswolds like Broadway are especially picturesque after a light dusting of snow © Dave Knibbs / Shutterstock

November to January is the best time for pretty winter landscapes

Winter is the low season in the Cotswolds, but there’s still plenty to do. Shops and restaurants are easier to get into, and there’s more space to enjoy the Cotswolds’ main attractions, such as Hidcote, one of the area’s best gardens (note reduced hours in winter).

Time it right and you’ll enjoy a pretty sprinkling of snow. Heavy snowfall might derail any hiking plans, yet winter storms create perfect opportunities to cozy up with a warming red wine or hot chocolate in a pub. Prices will be better during this low season, but expect to pay a premium during Christmas and school holidays.

February to May is best for springtime scenes

Spring in the Cotswolds brings blooming flowers, longer and sunnier days, and the return of village markets to town squares. It’s a popular time for visitors without school-age children to get the best prices on accommodation and enjoy more out-of-the-way attractions.

Here’s a monthly guide to what you can expect throughout the year in the Cotswolds (event dates subject to change).

Venture out for wintry walks in January

The start of the year is the perfect time to enjoy the beauty of this Area of ​​Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Stick close to the pubs and villages in case you need a warming pint, while enjoying short (albeit bracing) walks in the English countryside. Snowy days provide a beautiful backdrop to any trip to the Cotswolds. It’s cold and it gets dark early, so January nights are the most fruitful ones for stargazing, too.

Key events: New Year’s Day Cheltenham Races, Snowdrop Weekends in Cirencester

Spend a romantic February in the Cotswolds

Is there anywhere more romantic than a Cotswolds village in February? Gourmet meals, beautiful hotels, lovely walks and days spent popping in and out of the cafes and village farmers markets are reasons enough to visit. Beware, though, that prices often rise around Valentine’s Day weekend as many come in search of romance.

Key events: Lambing at Cotswold Farm Park, Cheltenham Winter Craft Beer Festival

Sheep and lambs on a green field in an idyllic landscape in the Cotswolds, England, United Kingdom
Early spring is peak lambing season in the Cotswolds © Matthew Dixon / Shutterstock

Pack for weather roulette in March

You’ll be at the whims of the weather in March. You could get glorious sunshine (with a chill); more likely, you’ll need your wellies and a raincoat. If you don’t mind being a little moist, you’ll be able to take in the region before the summer hordes arrive. Mother’s Day makes for a lovely weekend getaway and the perfect excuse to enjoy the newly open gardens. Check out Sudeley Castle and Westonbirt Arboretum for the most impressive plantings.

Key events: West of England Game Fair, The Festival at Cheltenham, Stroud Film Festival

Walk the Daffodil Way in April

The Cotswolds countryside is stunning in April. And there’s no better way to take it in than by hitting the Daffodil Way in Gloucestershire, where you’ll find one of the most abundant daffodil displays in the country. You can also find plenty of other patches of yellow flowers around the Cotswolds to enjoy, hopefully surrounded by some frolicking lambs for the ultimate photo op.

Key events: Chipping Norton Literary Festival, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Coleford Carnival of Transport

A man races with a sack of wool on his back as spectactors watch in the village of Tetbury, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds, England, United Kingdom
The annual Tetbury Woolsack Races are a…unique competition that take place in the Cotswolds every May © Matt Cardy / Getty Images

May brings outside adventures

May weather is perfect for an outside adventure in the Cotswolds. From cycling between villages on trails to canoeing around the Gloucester Docks in the sun or even taking a helicopter up high for a bird’s-eye view – it’s time to enjoy any and every outdoor activity. Adventures will be made all the better by all the wisteria, rapeseed blossoms and wildflowers coloring the fields.

Key events: Tetbury Woolsack Races, Barnsley Village Garden Festival, Lechlade Music Festival

June sees mixed weather and increasing public-transport service

In June, most pub conversations will revolve around the weather, which can vary from bright sunshine to chilly rain. Since it’s also just before the school-holiday season, trains from main cities like London will be quieter, and you’ll generally find fewer families with school-age kids in the Cotswolds. The region’s train and bus networks begin to ramp up services just before summer, so getting between top spots should be a breeze.

Key events: Cotswolds Olympic Games, Blenheim Palace Flower Show

Enjoy picnics and festivals in July

Some of the best weather in England sets in around July, and festival season begins to pick up as a result. Bigger events like the Cheltenham Music Festival, which brings classical acts to the Cotswolds countryside, come to the region in July. But don’t skip the smaller village fetes and fairs – the Stroud Country Show, for example, draws crowds with a dog show, farm animals and a falconry display.

Key events: The Royal International Air Tattoo, The Cotswold Show and Food Festival, Guiting Music Festival

Join the crowds in August

School’s out, and it sometimes seems like everyone and their kids flock to the Cotswolds in August. Our advice: book early and be ready for crowds. Peak summer finds the Cotswolds at its loveliest – just be warned that the anticipated peacefulness of the countryside might not be quite as tranquil as you expected with all those tourists.

Key events: Magic Millions Festival of British Eventing, Gloucestershire Vintage and Country Extravaganza, Cotswolds Vintage Fair

Visit in September for sunny weather with fewer crowds

September is a month of change in the Cotswolds. Things begin busy, then tend to get quieter toward the end of the month. The trains from London are less packed, so take public transport to spend more time peering out the window at the passing countryside. If you want to see the Cotswolds in all its sunny glory but with as few crowds, this is the time of year for you. Don’t miss the Moreton in Marsh Agricultural Show or the Frampton Country Fair for farming, food and family fun in the countryside.

Key events: Northleach Steamshow, Jane Austen Festival, Broadway Food Festival

An aerial shot of green fields and fall foliage in Selsley village, Gloucestershire, the Cotswolds, England, United Kingdom
With pleasantly cool weather and glorious fall foliage, October is a wonderful month to visit the Cotswolds © Peter Llewellyn / Getty Images

Soak up the autumnal colors in October

Drive or walk through the Cotswolds in October, and you’ll see the trees awash in the colors of fall. With the cooler weather and vibrant natural palette, this is a great time for a hike. It’s also harvest season, meaning there will be an abundance of fresh farm produce to buy at the shops.

Key events: Cotswold Water Park Ball, Cheltenham Literature Festival

The festive season kicks off in November

November is all about getting ready for Christmas in the Cotswolds. Cozy pub lunches become more magical, Sudeley Castle and Blenheim Palace kick off their annual Christmas displays, and the temperatures plummet, encouraging you to wrap up in layers. It’s the perfect time to enjoy the pubs and restaurants in the Cotswolds, with their roaring fires, tasty food and seasonal drinks.

Key events: Christmas at Blenheim Palace, Westonbirt Arboretum’s Enchanted Christmas, the Cotswolds fireworks display in Tetbury

Shop at the Christmas markets in December

December in the Cotswolds means Christmas markets – with wonderful options for your Christmas shopping. Expect live music, mulled wine and craft stalls galore. Garden centers throughout the Cotswolds put on extra-special festive displays, with Santa in attendance and delighted to meet the little ones.

Key events: Tetbury Santa Express, Broadway late-night Christmas shopping, Cirencester Christmas Market

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