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Festivals & Events Guide

Festivals & Events Guide

Dates for your calendar, from music festivals to royal races...

There are a huge range of fun festivals and events to attend along the Great West Way, from husky fests to hot air balloon extravaganzas. Get inspired by some of the highlights listed below, but be sure to keep an eye on our events listings for the latest updates.

Sporting events 

Whether you’re a royal fan or just want to experience a traditional English day out, Royal Ascot horse races (June) and Henley Royal Regatta (July) should be on your to-do list. Just make sure you check out their strict style guides beforehand for Royal Ascot and Henley Royal Regatta fashion advice!

The region has a strong horse racing heritage - with many horses being trained at Lambourn - and you’ll find events all year at racecourses including Bath, Salisbury, Badminton and Cheltenham. If you’d rather watch some high octane bike racing, head to Bristol Grand Prix to see super-fast cycling in July or Castle Combe Circuit for the Motorcycle Grand National in September.

Music & arts festivals

Going to a music festival in a muddy field is a rite of passage in the UK - a pair of jazzy (preferably glittery) wellies is essential. Reading Festival (August) is one of the biggest, always attracting top names, from the Foo Fighters to Fall Out Boy. There’s also WOMAD at Charlton Park, Wiltshire (July), Love Saves the Day at Eastville Park, Bristol (May) and NASS in Bath - a music festival with skating, BMX and street art. There’s lots of smaller festivals too, especially for folk music or more niche/boutique genres.

And arts festivals abound. There’s Swindon Festival of Literature (May) for bookworms and Devizes Arts Festival (June) for film, dance, theatre and more. Upfest (July) is a huge celebration of street art in Bristol, Banksy’s home town.

Top tip: Look out for arts trails, where local artists open up their homes for visitors to meet them and see their latest art works.

Food, drink & farming 

A great way to learn more about country life in England is to go to a country show. Given the rural nature of much of the touring route, there’ll be plenty to choose from, but one of the biggest is the Royal Bath & West Show (May/June). Attractions over the four days include sheep shearing demos, prize livestock displays and a beautiful marquee dedicated to honey, wax and beekeeping.

Due to the abundance of fresh homegrown produce along the route, you’ll also find lots of food and drink festivals to attend. The Great British Food Festival at Bowood House (August), Bristol Food Connections (June) and The Big Feastival in the Cotswolds (August) are some of the biggest but you’ll find lots of smaller ones in villages and towns throughout the Great West Way. When it comes to booze, Oktoberfest Swindon (October) and Bristol Craft Beer Festival (September) are both great fun.

Unique & unusual events 

Want something really different? Dare to bare all for the Bristol World Naked Bike Ride (June). Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps, but it’s for a good cause: raising awareness about road safety for cyclists.

Or maybe you’d like a little sprinkle of magic? In that case, go to Corsham in November for Magic & Mayhem, a weird and wonderful display of cabaret, comedy and vivacious visual arts.

If you’re visiting in May, try to get tickets for Pint of Science. These informal yet informative science events take place in pubs around London, Reading, Bath, Bristol and beyond. While you enjoy a pint, scientists will fill you in on their latest research findings on topics ranging from human biology to robotics.

Other one-off events along the Great West Way include Husky Fest (March) near Tewkesbury, Bristol Zombie Walk (October) and the Marlow Santa Fun Run (December). There’s also the dazzling Longleat Festival of Light in November and the colourful Bristol Balloon Fiesta in August. 

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Product Information

  1. Bath


    The golden city of Bath has been welcoming visitors for over 2,000 years. Designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, Bath is home to some of the most impressive architectural sights in the world such as the Royal Crescent, the Circus and Pulteney.

  2. Henley on Thames

    Henley On Thames

    South Oxfordshire is an area full of natural beauty, picturesque villages, shops to browse and places to stay and to eat.

  3. The Festival of Light 2018


    In 2018, Longleat's extraordinary Festival of Light will take you on a fantastic voyage. More than 1000 breath-taking, illuminated lanterns, adorning over 30 acres of splendid 'Capability' Brown landscaped grounds, will transform Longleat as darkness falls.

  4. Castle Combe Circuit


    Ultimate motoring thrills for adrenaline junkies.

  5. Iford Manor Gardens

    Iford, Near Bath

    Breathtakingly pretty 18th century manor surrounded by award-winning Italianate gardens.

  6. Bowood House and Gardens


    Outstanding 18th century mansion house estate.

    Indicative Availability

    Book Bowood House and Gardens Online

  7. Corsham

    Corsham is something of a hidden gem in Wiltshire. On the fringe of the Cotswolds, this historic market town is surrounded by beautiful countryside and is home to a number of historic buildings, including the Almshouses and Corsham Court with its Capability Brown picture gallery.

    There’s The Pound…

  8. Reading


    Be amazed by modern Reading – from remarkable medieval heritage and beautiful Thames countryside to award-winning shopping centres, there’s a surprise around every corner.

Itinerary Distances

FromToDistance * (metric)
Bath (51.3856,-2.36168)Henley on Thames (51.53528,-0.90088)92.42
Henley on Thames (51.53528,-0.90088)The Festival of Light 2018 (51.18657,-2.27744)92.94
The Festival of Light 2018 (51.18657,-2.27744)Castle Combe Circuit (51.4984,-2.21966)31.45
Castle Combe Circuit (51.4984,-2.21966)Iford Manor Gardens (51.32885,-2.28699)17.5
Iford Manor Gardens (51.32885,-2.28699)Bowood House and Gardens (51.42697,-2.04435)18.08
Bowood House and Gardens (51.42697,-2.04435)Corsham (51.43437,-2.18455)8.79
Corsham (51.43437,-2.18455)Reading (51.45239,-0.97383)75.64
Reading (51.45239,-0.97383)Bristol (51.45152,-2.59816)101.43
Total Distance *438.16 miles
Estimated Journey Time14.1 hours

* Approximate distance by road

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