5 things to do in Cheltenham that aren’t the races

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the most popular events in the horse racing calendar and it is expected that over a quarter of a million people will be passing through the gates of the racecourse over the four days of the festival.

Last year it was Sizing John who raced to victory in the Gold Cup race, but this year, the defending champions is only the second favourite as Might Bite is the favourite to win Cheltenham 2018 on Paddy Power.

There will be some people who are only in Cheltenham for one day of the races, but have foolishly booked a week at the hotel without knowing what else there is to do in Cheltenham, so we have taken a look at some of the sights and activities on offer in the Gloucestershire town.

Cheltenham is known for being a spa town, so it would be a bit strange if there was no spa to visit while on your trip. Chapel Spa is located in the heart of the town and offers a wide variety of treatments, from a massage to maternity spa treatments. Once your day at the races is over and if you’re not a fan of large crowds, then this spa offers you the ideal place to wind down and relax. The on-site facilities also include a gym which offers visitors the opportunity to have a post-race day workout.

Travelling on steam railways has been a thing of the past for decades now, however there are multiple heritage sites that still offer visitors the opportunity to experience this historic method of travel. The Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway is run by volunteers and offers trips of around twenty-six miles and the route uses part of the old mainline for Great Western Railway from Birmingham to Cheltenham. There are trains that operate from the racecourse and the journey offers passengers the chance to view some incredible scenery in the Cotswolds.

For the animal lovers there are a couple of options for alternatives to the festival; Walks with Hawks and Cotswold Farm Park. Walks with Hawks offers visitors the chance to witness some of the most magnificent birds of prey with the opportunity to handle and fly a variety of these birds. As well as being able to handle the birds, you will also learn about how they fly and hunt as well as the habitat in which they live. Owls and Hawks are the most popular varieties to have an experience with, although there is also the opportunity to handle Falcons and Eagles. In order to visit the centre you will need to pre-book the trip.

The Cotswold Farm Park reopened on the 10th February after its winter break and the farm, which opened for the first time back in 1971. The farm features all of the classic farm animals and with it currently being the lambing season, it is the perfect opportunity to watch a new life entering the world.

The final thing to do in Cheltenham is visit the Holst Birthplace Museum, which is one of only two composer birthplace museums in the country. Gustav Holst was born in 1874 and the museum is a dedication to his life and music, with his best known work, The Planets, the centrepiece of the exhibition. The house that is home to the exhibition is the home that he was born and raised in and pays tribute to the much respected composer.