There are few more popular locations in the United Kingdom for a weekend away than Cheltenham. The scenic location in the middle of the country has welcomed visitors from around the world throughout much of recent history, with the town being unearthed in 1716.
It is regarded by many as the most complete regency town in the United Kingdom, and it hosts a number of the most significant cultural events on the calendar in the UK. The town also has a number of important marks in history, including the fact that the first jet aircraft prototype was manufactured in Cheltenham.
Meanwhile, the United States Army Services of Supply and European Theatre of Operations were based on Cheltenham during the Second World War. But, what are some of the biggest events on the calendar in the town that all visitors should attend?
The most significant event on the calendar in Cheltenham comes in the form of the Cheltenham Festival, which is held annually in March. If for US fans, according to TwinSpires, the main race is the Kentucky Derby, for UK fans Cheltenham and the Grand National are up there in importance.
Horse racing was first staged in the town in 1815, before it came a national attraction following the establishment of the Festival in 1902.
Tourism during Festival week is the highest of the year, with hundred of thousands of fans attending the four-day spectacle. The week is most popular with Irish visitors, with the racing event coinciding with St Patrick’s Day. It is the standout event on the horse racing calendar, with championship races being staged across a variety of distances.
However, the most famous is the Gold Cup, which takes place annually on the final day of the Festival. The Gold Cup has produced some of the most famous moments in the history of horse racing, with legendary stars such as Mill House, Best Mate, and Arkle all landing victory. Its running in 2024 will be an iconic moment for the Festival, as the Gold Cup will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Racing is also staged at Cheltenham throughout the winter, with the meeting on New Year’s Day and Trials Day ranking among the most attended.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival
While the horse racing stands out on the calendar in terms of the events staged during the spring, there is also huge action during the summer with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival being one of the standout festivals during the summer. It is one of four cultural events held during the summer, with the town also welcoming fans of science and literature.
The Jazz Festival was first held in 1996, with Jim Smith tasked with organising the landmark event. Since its inception, it has become one of the most popular jazz music events in the United Kingdom, with the programme now developed by Tony Dudley-Evans.
The director at present is Ian George. There have been some big-name performers to headline the event throughout recent history, including Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, and Paloma Faith. Meanwhile, other superstars to have performed at the Jazz Festival in Cheltenham include the Jools Holland, Jamie Cullum, and Van Morrison.
It is also a standout event for showcasing emerging talent across the local area, with The Fringe seeing many local performers showcasing their talents at local parks and pubs. Aspiring musicians can also attend a number of fascinating seminars throughout the festival, with famous stars on hand to offer advice and improvised performances.
Cheltenham Cricket Festival
There are few more relaxing days out at Cheltenham than the one that can be experienced by attending the Cheltenham Cricket Festival. This event is staged annually over the summer, with matches taking place at the College Ground. As well as this, matches are also staged at The King’s School in Gloucester. The event is staged by Gloucester CCC, which is one of 18 first-class county clubs in the United Kingdom and Wales.
The club were founded in 1870, and they have consistently been ranked at the top-level of domestic cricket in England. Their first senior match was played in 1870, with the legendary W. G. Grace playing as the captain. Despite regularly playing their home matches in Bristol throughout the season, the Cricket Festival enables fans in the local town of Cheltenham to get a better look at the team and how they are performing. Success throughout their history has been sparse, winning just three Champion County titles.
However, they are yet to add to the success that they achieved in 1877. Their most recent success was achieved in the One-Day Cup, landing a second victory in history in 2015. Grace is the most famous player to have represented the team, scoring a staggering 113 centuries. He was a key player during their first period of success on the field, which saw Gloucester land three Champion County titles between 1874 and 1877. Nowadays, the Cheltenham Cricket Festival offers a relaxing day out for the family.