It’s difficult to know where to start an article about holidaying in the Cotswolds.
Sprawling across almost 800 square miles and spanning no less than six counties, the Cotswolds is England’s largest designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Lying predominantly within Gloucestershire and the west of Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds' beautiful rolling hills and blissful limestone villages represent an ideal destination for those seeking resplendent rural respite.
In 2008, online magazine AskMen.com compiled a list of the world’s top ten paradise locations and, leaving utopias in Hawaii, Micronesia and Canada trailing in its wake, the Cotswolds figured a remarkable 2nd place in the list.
Offering quaintly idiosyncratic accommodation such as picturesque thatched cottages, along with delightful Oxfordshire hotels, the Cotswolds is a charming world unto itself.
As well as its obvious allure, its proximity to London has in recent years seen a surge in celebrity residents seeking to escape the commotion of the capital city. Enduring local communities sit alongside the cosmopolitan and the wealthy, creating a doorstep gallery for a thriving and always quirky local arts and culture scene.
The calendar for the Cotswolds diary of events in 2010 is utterly packed. A whole host of agriculture, arts & crafts, beer, music, sport and food festivals will take place all over the region throughout the year.
Without a single theme park in the area, Cotswoldians make their own fun. Some events are downright bizarre; ever heard of river football? It does what it says on the tin - grown men splashing about in a river, attempting to pass a ball to each other and work the offside trap in front of a much-amused crowd. Honestly.
More well-known, and even more insane, is the annual Cheese Rolling event which takes place on Cooper’s Hill in the village of Brockworth. Originally part of a local summer festival, it is now confined solely to cheese-rolling and attracts participants – somewhat incredulously – from all over the world. Watch in total disbelief as usually-sensible adults go careering down the hill as they attempt, mostly in vain, to catch a runaway round of Double Gloucester.
Sport and cheese in a more serious capacity crop up elsewhere in the Cotswoldian calendar.
Foodies needn’t be disheartened by the sight of a perfectly good block of Double Gloucester going to waste, as the Cotswolds is a haven for food and drink festivals and farmers’ markets. The Tewkesbury Food & Drink Festival is among the best-known, and takes place this year on May 1st-2nd.
The Badminton Horse Trials take place every April and, staying on an equestrian theme, the world famous Cheltenham Festival of Racing occurs every March.
The most prestigious meeting in the racing calendar, it features National Hunt’s blue riband event, the Gold Cup, as well as other championship races such as the Champion Hurdle and the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Noted for the spine-tingling ‘Cheltenham roar’, the event is essentially a four day party, with millions of pounds being gambled and oceans of beer swigged. With the meeting usually coinciding with St Patrick’s Day, allied with the top class horse racing and beer on offer it’s easy to see why it’s so popular with Irish visitors who pour over every year!
Retreat to The Cotswolds
A place where rock stars retire to make cheese, and an Apple is a crunchy fruit to be eaten alone or in a pie or crumble, the Cotswolds is a magnetic, quirky and quintessentially English destination for anyone wishing to get away from it all.
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