8 things to do in 2018!

  • Philip Pullman: The Book of Dust
  • Cotswold Bushcraft
  • Fresh: Art Fair
  • Fresh: Art Fair
  • Fresh: Art Fair
  • Cornbury Festival
  • New Year's Day racing, Cheltenham Racecourse

Another year means 365 more days to fill - so here's a few suggestions to help you wring the most merriment out of your Cotswold 2018.

1. Lose yourself in Philip Pullman’s latest bestselling fantasy

After 17 long years, the Oxford-based author has finally revisited the vivid world of His Dark Materials, the super-selling trilogy that emerged alongside Harry Potter in the 1990s.

The first volume of a new trilogy, The Book of Dust, was released in October 2017, and was quickly followed by Daemon Voices - a collection of insightful essays on storytelling. What better way to while away the gloomier winter hours than by getting reacquainted with one of the most imaginative writers going? Since the second volume in Pullman’s new storyline is already written, perhaps we’ll get the next book, The Secret Commonwealth, in 2018…

2. Ditch the indoors with family bushcraft lessons

Sick of seeing your children affixed to their glowing interactive screens? Revivify the family with a trip to Adam Henson’s Cotswold Farm Park, where recently introduced bushcraft lessons in the nearby forest will help you all get to grips with life in the wild. Turn your couch potatoes into rugged survival experts in next to no time! Just ignore the temptation to leave them in the woods.

www.cotswoldadventures.com

3. Encounter the divine in the country’s best museums

Hop on a train at Moreton or Kingham and set out to explore the spiritual side of humanity with two major exhibitions: Living with Gods at the British Museum (until April 8) and Imagining the Divine at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum (until Feb 18). See some of the world’s oldest religious art and discover how different cultures have shaped and perceived the images of religion today.

Don’t miss the British Museum’s 40,000-year-old mammoth ivory sculpture, the Lion Man - the ‘oldest known image of a being that does not exist in nature.’

www.britishmuseum.org

www.ashmolean.org

4. Catch Christopher Eccleston’s RSC debut in Macbeth (13 March-18 September 2018)

Returning home from battle, the victorious Macbeth meets three witches on the heath. Driven by their disturbing prophecies, he sets out on the path to murder. The RSC’s contemporary production of Shakespeare’s darkest psychological thriller marks both Christopher Eccleston’s RSC debut and the return of Niamh Cusack to the company.

www.rsc.org.uk/macbeth

5. Pick up a painting at Fresh: - Cheltenham’s new contemporary art fair

After last year’s barnstorming inaugural outing, Fresh: is returning to Cheltenham Racecourse from 27-29 April 2018.

New and experienced art collectors will love browsing works supplied by over 46 galleries, but that’s far from all Fresh: brings to the table. Live art demonstrations, a sculpture park, art talks and Fresh: Cafes help make this contemporary art fair an unmissable event. Head to the website for more information!

www.freshartfair.net

6. Frolic at the Cotswolds’ finest festivals

Rumours of Cornbury’s demise have been greatly exaggerated - following an enthusiastic response to last year’s ‘last ever’ Cornbury, Hugh Philimore and friends are reviving the Cotswolds’ original family-friendly festival! And we’re sure to enjoy another fabulous Big Feastival, courtesy of Jamie Oliver and Alex James, not to mention another wonderfully arty Wilderness at Cornbury Park.

Truly, the people of the Cotswolds are spoiled for festival fun. And what about the cultural extravaganzas at Cheltenham every year? There’s much more than just the Cheltenham Literature Festival to tangle with, as dazzling guest speakers and musical stars pour into town for the Jazz, Science and Music festivals.

www.cornburyfestival.com

www.thebigfeastival.com

www.wildernessfestival.com

www.cheltenhamfestivals.com

7. Wander an autumnal trail at Batsford Arboretum

The beautiful Batsford Arboretum comes alive with colour every autumn. The park’s maples, cherries and liquidambar trees provide a sensational palette of reds, oranges and burnt ambers. Newcomers will find Batsford Arboretum next to Moreton-in-Marsh.

www.batsarb.co.uk

8. See in 2019 in style at Cheltenham Racecourse

As 2018 starts to wrap up, the Cotswolds will only get busier, with more fayres and wintry festivals than you can jingle a bell at. Chipping Norton will launch its next panto, Sudeley Castle and Batsford Arboretum will light up their illuminated trails and Santa Specials at the heritage steam railway will hit the rails…

Why not cap off the fun with a New Year’s Day visit to Cheltenham racecourse to enjoy some relaxed racing action? (Maybe a few winners will help replenish those depleted Christmas coffers…)

www.cheltenham.thejockeyclub.co.uk

DONT MISS: The Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse (13-16 March 2018), The Chipping Norton Literary Festival (29-28 April)