Cheltenham Music Festival


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Activity types:

  • Central location
  • Culture
  • Indoors

Holiday overview

Cheltenham's inspirational festivals have been at the forefront of the UK's cultural scene since the inaugural music festival in 1945. Each year more than 2,500 musicians, writers, scientists, performers and thinkers entertain and inspire. 

The 7-night holiday includes tickets to five performances, the 3-night holiday includes tickets to two performances and the 4-night holiday includes tickets to three performances. 

Holiday Highlights:

  • Soak up the festival atmosphere with a like-minded group 
  • Expand your knowledge with talks and discussions from our knowledgeable leader
  • Enjoy free time to explore the local area or relax in the country house

Great reasons to join us

  • Great value: all prices include full board en-suite accommodation, all essential transport and festival tickets
  • Expert leader: we carefully select friendly and knowledgeable leaders for each holiday
  • Accommodation: enjoy high-quality accommodation and excellent food at Harrington House
  • Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays – enjoy music together, eat together and relax together


In pictures...


HF Holidays' Harrington House in Bourton-on-the-Water, Cheltenham

Dating from the Tudor period, and of, considerable historic interest, Harrington House mirrors the mellow architectural style of the Cotswolds. Its peaceful atmosphere and proximity to the charming centre of Bourton-on-the-Water make it ideal for those who prefer a less active holiday.

Harrington House has 29 bedrooms. Most are located in the main house, with others in the adjacent cottages. 

 Choose your room

Classic Rooms
• Comfortable accommodation
• En-suite bathroom with bath or shower
• TV
• Hairdryer
• Tea and coffee making facilities
• Single rooms are available at no extra charge
Premium Rooms
• Enjoy extra space or exceptional views
• Toweling robe Complimentary slippers 
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Available from an extra £10 per person per night
Family Rooms
• 3 or 4 beds
• Same facilities as our classic rooms
• Full sized twin or double beds for adults and bunk or occasional beds for children


• Excellent boot and drying rooms 
• Main house there is a lounge, dining room and a bar
• Ballroom
• At the very top of the house is the observatory 
• Free WiFi in public rooms
• Range of board games and books
• At the rear of the house there is an attractive walled garden with a large croquet lawn


All holidays at our Country Houses are full board with breakfast, picnic lunch and evening meal. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.

Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
 Take your fill from our famous self service picnic lunches
A relaxed social dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses

An example of Bourton-on-the-water evening meal

Your evenings

Make the most of your evening or join us at the bar

Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.

All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.


Friday 7 July: Arrival day

Welcome to Harrington House. Your room will be ready from 2.30pm onwards (1pm for premium rooms). Afternoon tea will be provided so you can meet your fellow guests and leader. If you need assistance carrying your luggage to your room, please speak to the house manager when you arrive to arrange this. Your leader will talk you through the holiday, including its timetable, on the first evening.

After dinner, enjoy a film: Vaughan Williams – O Thou Transcendent (Tony Palmer)   

Saturday 8 July

9.30am – 12pm: We continue the film, and then explore A Sea Symphony, with a coffee break.

12.15pm: 3-course lunch

The afternoon is free for you to explore Gloucester.

2.15pm: Leave Bourton-on-the-Water for the festival

6pm: Steven Johnson talk

Gloucester Cathedral Chapter House

With his unique combination of enthusiasm, insight and erudition, Stephen Johnson discusses the friendship of Vaughan Williams and Holst and, with musical illustrations, illuminates the two main works in tonight’s concert.

A Sea Symphony & The Hymn of Jesus

7pm - 9pm

Gloucester Cathedral 

Vaughan Williams

Cheltenham Festival Chorus
Huddersfield Choral Society
Salomon Orchestra
Martyn Brabbins conductor
Elizabeth Watts soprano
Marcus Farnsworth baritone

Vaughan Williams Stricken Peninsula: An Italian Rhapsody (premiere) (8’)
Holst The Hymn of Jesus (22’)
Vaughan Williams A Sea Symphony (65’)

250 performers from around the UK come together in Gloucester’s majestic Cathedral to celebrate a great friendship between two locally-born composers. The Hymn of Jesus, 100 years old this year, was Holst’s next work after finishing The Planets, and was dedicated to Ralph Vaughan Williams. Williams’ mighty setting of Walt Whitman poems brings an equally large chorus to the fore throughout its hour-plus span, alongside expansive roles for two soloists and orchestral writing of blazing colour and energy.

The concert begins with a Vaughan Williams concert premiere – a reconstruction by Cheltenham composer, Philip Lane, of music Williams wrote for a 1945 propaganda film, Stricken Peninsula, about life and reconstruction in post-war Italy.

9pm: Leave Cheltenham for the Country House

Sunday 9 July

9.30am – 12pm: Illustrated talk on Monteverdi and his opera Orfeo, with a coffee break

12.15pm: 3-course lunch

The afternoon is free for you to relax in the Country House, or use the Discovery Point to independently explore this beautiful area.

5pm: Leave Bourton-on-the-Water for the festival

6pm: L'Orfeo pre-performance talk
Pillar Room, Town Hall

I Fagiolini’s Director, Robert Hollingworth, introduces tonight’s performance.

Monteverdi - L'Orfeo
7pm - 9pm

Main Hall, Town Hall

I Fagiolini
English Cornett & Sackbut Ensemble
Robert Hollingworth director
Matthew Long Orfeo
Rachel Ambrose-Evans Euridice
Clare Wilkinson Proserpina
Ciara Hendrick Messenger
William Purefoy Speranza
Nicholas Hurndall Smith Apollo
Greg Skidmore Shepherd
Charles Gibbs Pluto
Christopher Adams Caronte
Semi-staging by Thomas Guthrie

I Fagiolini’s celebrated project The Full Monteverdi, a worldwide success, premiered in Cheltenham in 2004. In the 450th anniversary year of the great composer’s birth, we welcome them back with a semi-staged performance of Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo, acknowledged as the first great opera. Written in 1607, Monteverdi’s use of orchestral colour and expert vocal writing animates the story of Orpheus’ search for his love in the underworld.

9pm: Leave Cheltenham for the Country House

Monday 10 July: 7-night holiday: Free day

A free day for you to explore the local area using the Discovery Point or relax in the Country House. After dinner, enjoy a talk on the Beethoven and Smetana string quartets.

3-night holiday: Depart after a leisurely breakfast

4-night holiday: Arrival day

Welcome to Harrington House. Your room will be ready from 2.30pm onwards (1pm for premium rooms). Afternoon tea will be provided so you can meet your fellow guests and leader. If you need assistance carrying your luggage to your room, please speak to the house manager when you arrive to arrange this. Your leader will talk you through the holiday, including its timetable, on the first evening. After dinner, enjoy a talk on the Beethoven and Smetana string quartets.

Tuesday 11 July

10am: Leave Bourton-on-the-Water for the festival

11am - 12.40pm: Pavel Haas Quartet

Pitville Pump Room

Beethoven String Quartet No 12 in E flat, Op. 127 (35’)
Martinů String Quartet No 3 H 183 (14’)
Smetana String Quartet No 1 in E minor ‘From My Life’ (27’)

Named after Czech composer Pavel Haas, who perished in Auschwitz aged 45, the Pavel Haas Quartet are renowned internationally, as much for their spirited live performance as for their four-time Gramophone Award-winning recordings. We are thrilled to welcome them back to the Pump Room, this time with the first of Beethoven’s sophisticated late quartets, alongside gloriously rich quartets by fellow countrymen Martinů and Smetana.

1.45pm: Coach to Holst Museum

2pm: We visit the Holst museum to learn more about this great English composer's life and works

5pm: Leave Cheltenham for the Country House

Wednesday 12 July

9.30am – 12pm: Special Feature: Schubert's Winterreise (Dieskau/Brendl), with coffee break.

12.15pm: 3-course lunch

The afternoon is free for you to relax in the Country House, or use the Discovery Point to independently explore this beautiful area.

6.30pm: Leave Bourton-on-the-Water for the festival

8pm: Tenebrae

Tewkesbury Abbey
Nigel Short director
with Cheltenham Youth Chamber Choir

Owain Park Footsteps (14’)
Joby Talbot Path of Miracles (63’)

In their 15th anniversary year, celebrated vocal ensemble Tenebrae revive their major commission from 2005, Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles. Admired in The Times as ‘an evocative odyssey’, this celebrated work evokes the great European pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. Candlelight, singing from memory and an imaginative use of space guarantees Tenebrae at its dramatic best.

Joby Talbot is one of the world’s most distinctive and versatile composers. Starting out as keyboardist in The Divine Comedy, he has written for film and TV (including 2016 animation Sing), for the Royal Ballet (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), and many performers including Alison Balsom and The King’s Singers.

9.30pm: Depart Cheltenham for the Country House

Thursday 13 July

9.30am – 10.30am: We enjoy the film Gesualdo: Death for 5 voices (Werner Herzog)

10.30am: Coffee and free time

12.15pm: 3-course lunch

The afternoon is free for you to relax in the Country House, or use the Discovery Point to independently explore this beautiful area.

7pm: Leave Bourton-on-the-Water for the festival

8pm - 9.45pm: Breaking Rules

All Saints Church, Pitville, Cheltenham

The Marian Consort
Gerald Kyd actor
Clare Norburn writer
Nicholas Renton director

Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa and Count of Conza, composed some of the most intense and glorious music of the Renaissance. He was also a brutal killer. As the obsessive composer relives the past and makes his final confession, the full horror of his crimes stands in stark contrast to his astonishing music. The Marian Consort perform works by Gesualdo to Clare Norburn’s dramatic monologue, creating a spellbinding fusion of drama and music.

9.45pm: Depart Cheltenham for the Country House

Friday 14 July: Depart after a leisurely breakfast

Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.



Local area

Discover the Cotswolds

Bourton-on-the-Water is situated at the heart of the Cotswolds, a beautiful area of rolling green hills and attractive stone towns and villages.

Harrington House is located in a quiet street, just 100 metres from the centre of Bourton. This is one of the most popular villages in the Cotswolds, frequently busy with visitors. The River Windrush winds its way through the central village green and is crossed by a series of attractive stone bridges.

Bourton-on-the-Water is a popular destination in its own right with its specialist shops and attractive village  green. Local attractions include the motor museum, model village and Birdland wildlife park, all within easy walking distance.

The village has a good range of facilities including a small supermarket, post office, newsagent, pubs and bank.

During your stay at Harrington House you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:

Chipping Campden
The mellow market town of Chipping Campden, about 30 minutes' drive north of Bourton-on-the-Water, is one of the most visited towns in the Cotswolds.

Pathway through elegant gardensHidcote Manor Gardens
Owned by the National Trust, Hidcote is a small manor house with an exceptional garden designed in the Arts and Crafts style. Around 35 minutes' north from Bourton-on-the-Water. 



Rolling hills and Broadway TowerBroadway
Considered as one of the most beautiful villages in Britain it is easy to see why so many visitors are attracted to Broadway. Don’t let this put you off; Broadway is still worth a visit. To get away from the crowds, consider a walk to Broadway Tower for stunning views of the Vale of Evesham. Around 30 minutes' drive from Bourton.


Inside the Royal Shakespeare TheatreStratford-upon-Avon
Famous for its Shakespeare connections, Stratford is an attractive town spanning the River Avon. Of particular interest are the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and the Shakespeare Birthplace Museum. Around 40 minutes' drive from Bourton. or



Exterior and gardens of Blenheim PalaceBlenheim Palace
Blenheim Palace is one of the grandest and best-known stately homes in Britain. It sits in extensive parkland and is also famous as the ancestral home of Winston Churchill.



The fine Regency spa town of Cheltenham has an excellent range of shops and facilities. Cheltenham is around 25 minutes' drive from Bourton, and can also be reached by an hourly local bus.

The Cathedral city of Gloucester is about 35 minutes' drive to the west of Bourton. The fine Norman cathedral is well worth visiting, as is the National Waterways Museum. or

Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway
Ride the steam railway through attractive Cotswold countryside from Cheltenham to Toddington about 30 minutes' drive from Bourton. Now restored, this was once the Great Western main line to Birmingham.

The famous university city of Oxford is about an hour’s drive from Bourton-on-the-Water. You may wish to stroll through the historic colleges or visit the Ashmolean Museum.


Hidcote Gardens image ©National Trust Images/Jonathan Buckley


Travel to Bourton-on-the-Water

Our address is: Harrington House, Sherborne Street, Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire, GL54 2BY

How to get to us by train

By train:

The nearest railway station is Moreton-in-Marsh. However, the nearest mainline station is at Cheltenham Spa which may be more convenient. For train times and general rail enquiries visit or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

Train at Moreton-in-Marsh station 

Get to us by Taxi

By taxi:

From Moreton-in-Marsh station a taxi takes approximately 20 minutes and costs £21 if pre-booked. From Cheltenham Spa station a taxi takes around 30 minutes and costs £42 if pre-booked. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Harrington House Manager.



By bus:

From Moreton-in-Marsh station catch the 801 bus to Bourton-on-the-Water,from where it is a short walk to our Country House. Alight next to the Edinburgh Woollen Mill Shop. Cross the road to the war memorial and continue across the bridge. Follow this road for 150 metres until the road forks. Harrington House is on the left.

 Bus heading to Bourton-on-the-Water

Driving to us

By car:

From the A429 take the road into the centre of Bourton-on-the-Water.  At the war memorial by the village green, turn into Sherborne Street. Follow this road for 150yds, crossing the river and passing the motor museum until the road forks. Harrington House is on the left before the fork.  Look out for our sign. A car park is available in the grounds with free parking.


 Travel by plane

Travelling from overseas

For most guests, travelling to London Heathrow airport is the most convenient option.

From Heathrow first take the train to London Paddington station. From here there are direct trains to Moreton-in-Marsh. It's a relatively straightforward journey - just over 2 hours. See for train times.

From Moreton-in-Marsh you can travel on to Bourton-on-the-Water by bus or taxi (see above).

 Quantas Boeing 747


Steven Robinson

Steven Robinson is a freelance music lecturer. Following the completion of a PhD on the symphonies of Beethoven's pupil, Ferdinand Ries, he taught for 10 years at Liverpool University and also contributed to undergraduate courses at Manchester University and the Royal Northern College of Music.  He has led for HF Holidays since 2002, presenting holidays on Bach, Handel, Beethoven, Ries, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Sibelius, Bartok and Shostakovich, as well as general surveys of the main periods of music history (Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic and Twentieth Century), and Festival holidays including Cheltenham Music Festival, Three Choirs, Welsh National Opera and Opera North. Steven teaches piano at home and plays the organ at several churches in the Manchester area. 


Dates & Prices

We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.

Prices are per person


  • Premium single room: £15 per night
  • Premium twin/double room: £10 per person per night
  • Non-member associate fee: £10 per person

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