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The Late Summer Festivities of the Cotswolds

For those  thinking of taking  their summer holidays within the UK this year, the Cotswolds should definitely appear close to the top of the list. When one mentions the Cotswolds in summertime, images of cozy limestone cottages, acre upon acre of lush floral gardens, and elaborate churches built from the spoils of a medieval wool trade might spring to mind. There certainly is a lot to see in the Cotswolds, but as the school year starts-up again and the height of the British summer slowly gives way to the cooler months that lie ahead, there is still plenty going on in the Cotswolds. There is a bevy of traditional Cotswold festivals that extend well into the autumn months, enabling you to enjoy a visit to this beautiful corner of the country later in the season, after the crowds have thinned a bit.

The Greenbelt Festival – August 23-26, 2013

The Greenbelt Festival takes place in Cheltenham over the August Bank Holiday Weekend. An independent Christian Charity, Greenbelt packs this weekend full of music, visual and performing arts, and film. This year’s lineup includes Black Rebel, Courtney Pine, and the London Community Gospel Choir.

The Five Valleys Festival – August 30 – September 29, 2013

The village of Stroud in Gloucestershire hosts a festival for each of the five valleys of the Cotswolds; meant to celebrate the very best things from each of these regions. Admission to the festival is free, and even better than that, the five festivals taken together last an entire month, so you don’t have to worry about missing out if you have to delay your travel plans due to unforeseen circumstances. The Stroud Fringe is the first of the five festivals and kicks off the festivals from the 30th of August to the 1st of September. The Stroud Fringe boasts three outdoor stages that showcase local musicians.

The Food and Drink Festival follows shortly thereafter, on Saturday the 7th of September. The Food and Drink Festival is one of the most popular festivals of the late summer months. Local restaurants and pubs offer tastes of some of the areas most delicious dishes, as well as their award-winning local ales.

Also taking place on the 7th of September is the Stroud Festival of Nature. The Festival of Nature is a day where the community organisations gather to share information and socialise. It is a great day out for families with children, and it is held in beautiful Stratford Park, a perfect backdrop for a Festival which celebrates the natural surroundings and biodiversity that has become so synonymous with the Cotswoldian countryside.

The Walking Festival is also set for the 7th of September, again in Stratford Park. In fact, the Walking Festival was designed to work in harmony with the Festival of Nature. The Walking Festival offers something for walkers and nature enthusiasts of just about any level of expertise, making this a fun event to attend with a larger group of family or friends. Many, if not most of the walks are guided by qualified walk leaders or representatives from local walking clubs. If you are interested in attending one of the guided walks, it is a good idea to visit the Marquee early in order to put your name down, as some of the walks are very popular, and space can be somewhat limited.

This year, the Stroud Eco-Renovation Homes Fair is also being held on the 7th of September. Although in years past, access to some of the regions renovated eco-friendly homes was granted to members of the public for one day only, this year, there will be no tour of private homes. This year, the companies and organisations who help people renovate their homes to more Eco-friendly specifications will all be available at the Eco-Renovation Marquee. Demonstrations and workshops will be held for the public and are free of charge.

Football on the Water – 26 August (Bank Holiday Monday)

Every year, on a Bank Holiday Monday in August, teams of local football enthusiasts take to the river Windrush to partake in what has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the village of Bourton on the Water. A 30-minute football match is played in the knee-high water of the Windrush, drawing hundreds, if not thousands of spectators, tourists and locals alike, together on the banks of the river to watch the fray. The spirit of the event is jovial, and despite the propensity for it being a bit soggy, it is one of the most eagerly-anticipated events of the year. This most unusual of festival activities has been in place now for over 100 years, and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

The Blenheim Horse Trials – September 12-15, 2013

The Blenheim Palace Horse Trials (now officially called the Fidelity Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials) began in 1990, and quickly attracted some of the best equestrians in the world. The Trials are now a well-established part of the eventing calendar for the year, and spectators come from all over the world to see these talented horses and riders in action. Traditionally known in the equestrian world as a “3-day event” (but actually run over four days in this case), the Blenheim Trials are made up of three different eventing components: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping. The main dressage arena, Marlborough arena, is set right in front of the breathtakingly beautiful Blenheim palace, while another arena, the Churchill Arena, is set atop the picnic areas overlooking the lake, and boasts astonishing views. In addition to the eventing, there are also other equestrian activities for local riders to take part in. The Pony club and Riding Club Team Competitions take place no the Thursday and Friday are sponsored by Dodson & Horrell, and the BE Eventer Challenge, which is sponsored by Tri-zone, takes place on the following Sunday.


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