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Gloucestershire cultural attractions

Gloucestershire is a county that’s crammed with art and culture. In summer, the ultimate choice for a magical Cotswolds day out for all the family is Giffords Circus, a unique travelling circus which draws crowds from all over the UK to its picture-perfect base just outside of Stroud. At different times of year, Cheltenham Festivals organises science, music, literature and jazz programmes in a variety of venues. Thousands of visitors from around the world come to hear top-name speakers and performers, and there are special events for children, mostly at weekends.

North of Gloucester, you’ll find Nature in Art, in a fine Georgian mansion, Wallsworth Hall. It hosts more than 60 artists in residence annually, as well as changing exhibitions – from Flemish masters to contemporary glass. There’s a programme of hands-on courses and fascinating talks throughout the year. Meanwhile, the award-winning Lechlade Craft Barn offers classes in lampshade making, needle felting, quilting and crochet with experienced tutors. Beginners and experienced crafters are welcome.

If you enjoy meeting creative people, head to the New Brewery Arts in Cirencester where you can buy direct from the makers or book a workshop on topics such as textile construction, calligraphy or Indian block printing. The galleries are bursting with inspirational ceramics, paintings, sculpture and jewellery and if you haven’t time to make your own there is, of course, a shop.

The Gloucestershire Arts and Crafts Centre in Westgate Street, Gloucester, has a delightful range of locally-designed and made gifts, and you can chat to the craftsmen themselves while you browse their wares. They hold a wide range of bookable workshops including porcelain flower making and botanical art. And Longborough Festival Opera is a hidden gem of the Cotswolds – a 500-seat theatre in the grounds of founders Martin and Lizzie Graham’s home. Every year they run an opera season from June to August and are currently producing their own version of Wagner’s epic Ring cycle. In the interval, bring a picnic and find a spot with a beautiful view, or book a place in their restaurant for a three-course meal.

Our picks

Longborough Festival Opera
Longborough Festival Opera

New Banks Fee Longborough, Moreton-in-Marsh GL56 0QF

Longborough Festival Opera is an intimate 500-seat theatre set amidst the glorious rolling hills of the Cotswolds. LFO works with talented designers, directors, conductors and the best up-and-coming artists to bring you something you won’t have seen anywhere else. Founded by Martin and Lizzie Graham and located in the grounds of their home, a visit to Longborough ensures an intimate and unique experience which truly captures the drama and emotion happening on stage. Visit website

Roses Theatre
The Roses

Sun Street, Tewkesbury GL20 5NX

The Roses Theatre is a busy and popular arts centre in Tewkesbury with an eclectic programme of live events, take part activities, exhibitions and festivals. In addition to the 370 seat auditorium, The Roses boasts a relaxing bar and coffee shop where you can enjoy a pre-show and interval drinks as well as live entertainment including jazz and folk music and stand up comedy. Complete with an exciting film programme of world, independent and UK film, this is a diverse and exciting arts venue. Visit website

Sudeley Castle & Gardens
Sudeley Castle

Winchcombe, Gloucestershire GL54 5JD

Located in the heart of the Cotswolds, Sudeley Castle & Gardens has played an important role in England’s history for over 1,000 years. Rated amongst the top attractions on TripAdvisor for ‘Things to Do in the Cotswolds’, the castle rooms and exhibits contain many fascinating treasures, from ancient Roman times to the present day. Outside, the castle is surrounded by a breathtaking 1,200-acre estate and 10 award-winning gardens. The centrepiece is the Queens Garden, so named because four of England’s queens – Anne Boleyn, Katherine Parr, Lady Jane Grey and Elizabeth I – once walked upon the original Tudor Parterre. Visit website

Gallery Pangolin

9 Chalford Industrial Estate, Chalford, Stroud GL6 8NT

A warm welcome awaits visitors to Gallery Pangolin, set on the slopes of the Cotswold escarpment in the village of Chalford. One of the few galleries to specialise in sculpture and related works on paper, the gallery has a well-established reputation for works of quality and excellence by both modern and contemporary artists. Visit website

Museum of Gloucester
Girl in museum

Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1HP

The Museum of Gloucester tells the story of the city’s origins as a Roman settlement and its subsequent development through the Dark Ages and Medieval period. This fine Victorian building also has a significant collection of art including paintings by Richard Wilson, Thomas Gainsborough, John Atkinson Grimshaw and Thomas Dibdin. The Archaeology collection includes the world-famous Birdlip Mirror, impressive Roman tombstones and the Gloucester Tables Set, the oldest complete backgammon set in the world. Visit website

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Image credits: ©Jack Boskett/The Roses; Matthew Williams-Ellis/Longborough Festival Opera; Pavel Losevsky/;

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