If you’re based in the Cotswolds, it’s something of a ritual to spend New Year’s Day at Cheltenham Racecourse for the races. Many people from Cheltenham and further afield decide to start the year in style at Cheltenham’s legendary Racecourse. This is no matter how badly hungover you are from the night before. So, when the question of what to do at New Year came up, some friends and I planned just that. Well, why wouldn’t you fancy kicking your year off with a pint in the Guinness Village and the temptation of a few winners? Start as you mean to go on after all.
New Year’s Eve in Cheltenham
Our Cheltenham New Year began with New Year’s Eve! We stocked up for the night with plenty of prosecco and snacks, and spent the next few hours getting ready.
We reflected on the year that had passed, and looked ahead to everything we wanted to achieve in the coming year. With chatter, laughing, and plenty of champagne cheers, we were ready for a night out and some racing the next day.
We headed out to Cheltenham bars including The Retreat Wine Bar and Under the Prom until the early hours. We saw in the new year at The Retreat with plenty of singing and dancing. Sadly, there are no photos – but as they say, the best bits never make the camera.
New Year’s Day at Cheltenham Races
Feeling less than fresh the next morning, we prepared for the day ahead. Getting ready for the races at Cheltenham is half of the fun. As a festival known for its royal visitors, tweed, pearls, and fur, it’s important to look the part. So we did what we could with fuzzy heads. Don’t forget your hats!
Cheltenham’s New Year’s Day Races are a rite of passage in the town, with 7 races throughout the day. There’s a bunch of restaurants, plenty of drinking, live music (with Club/Tattersalls tickets), and even a family fun zone (kids go free). If it’s your first time in Cheltenham, check out my ultimate guide to Cheltenham for the best things to do.
As the New Year’s Day Races are such a huge event in Cheltenham, it’s very easy to get from the town centre to the racecourse and only takes around 15 minutes. We caught a bus from the town centre up to Cheltenham Racecourse. We arrived donning our finest fur and hats and placed our first bets. All of our fingers were crossed, hoping for some luck that would get the year off to a great start.
We placed our bets for the races and cheered on the horses. Meanwhile, we patiently defied the cold wind and rain whilst waiting for some winners.
Sadly, not many winners for us but we all had a great day. It’s great to have a few drinks with your nearest and dearest and to enjoy some of the live music. We finished off New Year’s Day in Cheltenham with dinner at The Tavern, a few more drinks and a little more partying. Finally, we were very pleased to get into bed after an awesome day in Cheltenham.
With northern visitors to show round, I took them all to the beautiful village of Winchcombe, just a few miles out of Cheltenham town centre. It’s famous for its fabulous history and home to Sudeley Castle, Henry VIII’s former home and the burial place of Catherine Parr, his final wife. There are some gorgeous little historic pubs and eateries in Winchcombe, and The Lion Inn is my favourite.
We sipped coffees and chatted for hours next to the open log fire, before nibbling tapas and slices of pizza. Bliss!
Before they fell asleep next to the log fire, my friends packed up the car and headed back up north. It’s been so lovely to have friends down to visit for New Year’s Day in Cheltenham, and a perfect start to the year ahead.
Have you been to the New Year’s Day races at Cheltenham? What are your annual New Year traditions?