What to do in the Cotswolds in January

Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes

Once the Christmas and New Year festivities are over, January gloom can soon set in. But booking a break can make the month that most of us dread into something to look forward to. With its honey-tinged towns and villages and status as one of Britain’s biggest AONBs, the Cotswolds is a magical place to visit at any time of year, but in January you've the bonus of it being delightfully crowd free.  

There’s no shortage of well-trodden walking trails around the Windrush Valley, Lower and Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire Way, Cotswold Way, Monarch Way, to explore plus a whole host of events and visitor attractions to experience. We've compiled a list of our favourite things to see and do during January.

Book tickets for Cheltenham Racecourse

Regular Cotswolds visitors will already know that attending the Cheltenham Races on New Year’s Day is one of the most thrilling ways to kick-start the year. But there’s plenty of other winter events here, too. Tickets are currently on sale for the Festival Trials Day on Saturday 27 January 2024, costing from £10 for the Best Mate Enclosure and from £25 for the Club/Tatts Enclosure.

Enjoy a stargazing experience

The beautiful Cotswolds are home to some of the darkest skies in England thanks to its low light pollution and gloriously secluded spots. Wrap up warm and head to Aunt Phoebe’s Recreation Ground, South Park, Painswick Beacon, or the Rollright Stones Ancient Monuments on a clear night to catch a glimpse of the stars and constellations.

Get acquainted with spirits

Little beats freshly-pulled pints and hearty food offerings at a beloved Cotswolds watering hole. History buffs will adore The Porch House in Stow-on-the-Wold for its original features dating back to 947AD, while those who fancy cosying up by the log fire should try The Catherine Wheel in the village of Bibury. Also visit-worthy is The Cotswolds Distillery for its tours, tastings, and masterclasses for blending your own gin or whisky.

Soak up views from Broadway Tower

While gorgeous year-round, there’s something quite special about hiking around this folly high on the escarpment above picture-perfect Broadway on a crisp January day. Climb to the roof viewing platform, officially the highest point in the Cotswolds, for incredible views spanning 16 counties and 62 miles in each direction.

Marvel at the Painswick Rococo Gardens

Designed in the 1740s as a fanciful pleasure garden for the owner of Painswick House and his guests, this is now the country's only complete surviving rococo garden. With or without a dusting of snow in January, Painswick is the perfect winter attraction for soaking up views of the surrounding countryside, relaxing walks, find the centre of the maze, and tuck into homemade food at the cosy café.

Spend time at Cotswold Wildlife Park & Gardens

For those wanting to get up close to rhinos, meerkats, penguins, and more, this 160-acre park is home to over 260 species of animal. It also has one of the largest reptile collections in the UK; expect to see crocodiles, lizards, frogs, snakes, such as green anacondas, and venomous snakes including black mambas. Note: during the last three weeks of January, the park opens on weekends only.

Delight the kids at a miniature village

As one of the best family-friendly places in Bourton-on-the-Water, this one-ninth scale replica of the village is the only Grade II-listed model village in the country. Highlights include little trees, miniature buildings made of Cotswold stone, a replica River Windrush with real water, and a tiny model church where you can even hear the choirs.

Stay at our characterful country house

You get the best of all worlds at Harrington House, our Grade II-listed retreat just a skip away from the heart of Bourton-on-the-Water – the impossibly pretty Cotswolds town with chocolate-box cottages, old-fashioned tearooms, and low-arched stone bridges that span the River Windrush. Expect 27 well-appointed guest rooms in three categories (Classic, Premium, and Superior), two lounges, a licensed bar, an attractive dining room, a handy boot and drying room, and landscaped grounds.

7-night Cotswolds Self-Guided Walking

Accommodation: Harrington House, Bourton-on-the-Water

Departures: Jan-Dec 2024, 7 nights

Price from: £749pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

3-night Cotswolds Guided Walking

Accommodation: Harrington House, Bourton-on-the-Water

Departures: Jan-Dec 2024, 3 nights

Price from: £419pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

7-night Cotswolds Guided Walking

Accommodation: Harrington House, Bourton-on-the-Water

Departures: Jan-Nov 2024, 7 nights

Price from: £875pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

4-night Cotswolds Self-Guided Walking

Accommodation: Harrington House, Bourton-on-the-Water

Departures: Jan-Dec 2024, 4 nights

Price from: £429pp

Book now or call 020 3974 8865

Published 18th October 2023