If you are lucky enough to be heading to the Cheltenham Festival this March, to enjoy four days of the finest National Hunt racing the UK has to offer, it’s worth taking a little time out from the track to explore the surrounding area.
From Michelin-starred restaurants and award-winning breweries, to classic country pubs and picture book Cotswold villages, the Cheltenham Festival sits in an area of natural beauty, a short hop away from some exciting towns and cities. Here is our list of the top ten things to do when the horses hit the stables.
1. The Brewery Quarter
If it all gets too much, and the agoraphobia is kicking in, as the Queen Mother Champion Steeple Chase lines up on day two of the festival, why not escape from Prestbury Park and head into town. The Brewery Quarter, on Cheltenham High Street, is a new £30 million development that combines bars, ten-pin bowling, movies, restaurants, and more.
To celebrate the Cheltenham Festival, the Brewery Quarter is pulling out all the stops with special menus, cocktails, and four days of live music. The good news is: you can escape the hustle and bustle of the crowded grandstands but still enjoy the racing. It’s being screened live at the Brewhouse and Kitchen restaurant throughout the day. Result!
2. An Irish Double
Double down on all things Irish with a visit to the small but perfectly formed Hillside Brewery. The CAMRA award-winning venue is celebrating St Patrick’s Night, on Friday March 13, with Irish stew, Irish music, a Black Velvet cocktail and Nachos (Irish?).
With Irish Day at the Cheltenham Festival just 24 hours earlier, on March 12, you can expect to be in good company. Thousands of Irish National Hunt fans make the trip to Cheltenham every year. When St Patrick calls, the Irish answer.
3. Fine Dining
If you’ve managed to back a winner, and all that horse racing action has left you with an appetite, you can make a hole in your wallet, and fill one in your tummy, with a trip to Gloucestershire’s only Michelin starred restaurant: Le Champignon Sauvage. Samples from the menu include a pigs trotter stuffed with snails and ox tongue to start, followed by roasted wood pigeon and a black pudding cream. Enjoy.
4. Spa Out, Man…
Take the waters after you taken the track. Cheltenham has been known as a health and holiday spa town since the early 1800s. Mineral springs were first discovered in 1716 and the town evolved around its water’s healing properties. There are many spas to try in town and you can taste the original curative spa water at the Pittville Pump Room in town.
5. Mine Holst
In the lee of the stunning Cotswold hills, the setting for the Cheltenham Festival is one of the most dramatic in modern horseracing. Soul-stirring stuff and possibly the inspiration for its greatest musical son: Gustav Holst.
Best known for his orchestral suite, The Planets, Holst was born in Cheltenham in 1874. You can visit his perfectly preserved Regency home, complete with the piano on which he recorded his iconic, galactic, masterpiece.
6. Cleeve Hill
The Cheltenham Festival has been held at Prestbury Park since 1831. Before that, Cleeve Hill, the highest point in Gloucestershire, was the venue for the race. Visitors to Cleeve Hill can still enjoy the racing from a distance. Take a mobile phone and you bet an each-way from far away.
7. The Cotswolds
The Cheltenham Festival is the ultimate celebration of National Hunt racing; racing which requires horse to jump fences and ditches. Although it originated in Ireland, it’s easy to see why the Cotswolds is the perfect location for this age-old sport. Why not take a day away from the festival to explore the ancient countryside and postcard-perfect villages of the neighbouring Cotswold countryside.
8. Let’s Go, Lido…
The Sandford Parks Lido was first opened in 1935. Back in the days when the Ministry of Health was happy to contribute to its costs, seeing the value in good health for all. Heated to a balmy 26 degrees, the open-air pool is one of the largest in the country and the ideal place to cool down, if you’ve overheated at the track.
Home to scores of festivals, including literature, science, jazz, music, cricket, and food and drink, Cheltenham has a very active nightlife scene, with an impressive hoard of 94 pubs and clubs. It’s also rated as one of the most desirable places to live in the UK.
The town is divided into various districts, including St James, The Promenade and Montpellier, the Strand and Upper High Street, Bath Road & Leckhampton. Each has its own character, with a wealth of traditional bars and restaurants to explore,
10. Out And About
If you want to extend your Cheltenham Festival experience and spend those hard-won winnings, there are scores of attractions a short drive away. Bristol and Bath are the Somerset cities worth exploring. Shakespeare’s home town Stratford-Upon-Avon is verily but up ye olde road, and the Malvern Hills are within hiking distance.
The Cheltenham Festival is a celebration of horse racing: one of England’s oldest and most popular sports. If you can’t make it to Gloucestershire this March, MansionBet has all the action you need to help you make it to the winning post. Good luck and enjoy the festival.