The Cotswolds, An Embodiment of England | TravelResearchOnline


The Cotswolds, An Embodiment of England


For clients with an interest in gardening, classical music, opera and the visual arts, early July is a great month for a UK tour. The star attraction for many will be the spectacular, colourful RHS Hampton Court Festival of summer and flowers in the grounds of the historic palace on the banks of the River Thames

With London getting busier at the beginning of summer, it’s time for your clients to get out of the city and into the Cotswolds where a remarkable collection of annual festivals and events can be blended together to create profit generating pre or post extensions to their 3-4 nights in our capital city.


The Hampton Court Palace Flower Show

This dazzling celebration of summer and flowers on the banks of the River Thames brings together a selection of thought-provoking gardens, abundance of plants, culinary experiences, workshops and much more. With three garden categories in 2020, there will be ideas aplenty from a whole host of gardens full of inspirational ideas to revitalize green spaces. Expect a host of exciting talks and workshops, plants, people and foodies along with a whole host of artisan shops and small businesses.

RHS Letters and dahlia planting at RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival 2019.

A Treasure Trove of Cotswolds Gardens

My favourite Cotswolds Sunday pastime is Morning Worship in a 15th century church and coffee with members of the congregation after the service, a pub lunch with a glass of Old Speckled Hen, a stroll around a village like Blockley (see video) where 6 or more private properties (both large and small) open as part of the National Garden Scheme, rounded off with conversations with the locals along with some cups of tea and delicious homemade cakes.

The Cheltenham Music Festival

Established in 1945, the annual Cheltenham Music Festival is one of the world’s most prestigious music festivals. Taking place in early July, over 60 events and 650 performers take part every year to present a programme of show-stopping concerts in Cheltenham Town Hall, intimate musical adventures in the Pittville Pump Room, and a feast for the senses in cathedrals, abbeys and churches across the region. Over many years, it has earned its place as a world-renowned and highly respected festival.

Opera in The Cotswolds

Running annually, from early June until early August, the internationally renowned Longborough Festival Opera is an intimate 500-seat theatre set amidst the glorious rolling hills of the Cotswolds. It would normally be in full swing, and this week they would have been performing Monteverdi’s ‘Return of Ulysses’ performed on period instruments by the Academy of Ancient Music. If you have any opera loving clients, they’ll thank you for arranging 2-3 nights in the Cotswolds with an evening performance to round off the trip.

Just ImaGINe This

I can arrange memorable Cotswolds tearoom and pub tours but here’s one with a very clear gin distillery theme. With the addition of some of our magnificent castles, one or two private rarely opened gardens, and treasure-filled stately homes, it works really well as a 3-4-night English countryside programme prior to a few days in London. As part of a pre or post cruise extension sailing in or out of Southampton, add a tasting tour of the internationally renowned Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery.

A Cotswolds Tour of Your Bookshelf

This fiction into reality tour uses the Cotswolds as a 4-5 night hub for visits to Shakespeare’s England and reveals Bath as seen through the eyes of Jane Austen. It also looks at the England immortalized in Laurie Lee’s Cider with Rosie and follows in the footsteps of Agatha Raisin, Father Brown, and the great detectives, Inspectors Morse, Lewis, and Barnaby. Time it to coincide with the annual Cheltenham Festival of Literature running between 2nd-11th October this year.

Festival of Eventing

I’m certain that several of you will have contacts at riding schools/equestrian centres. It may even be something you do yourself. For families, offer them the annual early August Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park at the home of the Princess Royal and her family. Topped and tailed with London, you have clients that will love this new idea. Consider this for next summer or focus on the Badminton Horse Trials 6th-10th May 2021 also staged in the Cotswolds.

Shane Rose riding Happy Times to win the Neptune Trophy for the Advance Class

Tapestries, A Spa and Some Royal Connection

William Morris’ former home at Kelmscott Manor, the Woodstock Textile Trail, the magnificent 18th century tapestries at Blenheim Palace, and ecclesiastical vestments at Christ Church Cathedral Oxford come together with some self-improvement at the beautiful and privately-owned Herbs for Healing, a traditional English Afternoon Tea and a treatment at the Thermae Bath Spa. The return to London includes a look at the Duchess of Cambridge’s early childhood years in and around Bucklebury.


Paull Tickner, owner of U.K-based Custom GB, is known for his expertise in creating and operating imaginative, value-added tours of Great Britain and Ireland. Visit his website at or email him at

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