When to Go
This area contains some of England's most popular destinations, and it's best to avoid weekends in the busier areas of the Cotswolds. During the week, even in summer, you may hardly see a soul in the more remote spots. Bath is particularly congested in summer, when students flock to its language schools. On the other hand, Cheltenham is a relatively workaday place that can absorb many tour buses comfortably.
Book your room well ahead if you visit during the two weeks in May and June, when the Bath Festival hits town, or if you visit Cheltenham during the National Hunt Festival (horse racing) in mid-March. Note that the private properties of Hidcote Manor, Snowshill Manor, and Sudeley Castle close in winter; Hidcote Manor Garden is at its best in spring and fall.
Bath Comedy Festival. Running for 10 days, April's Bath Comedy Festival features comedy events at venues throughout the city. Bath Box Office, Abbey Chambers, Abbey Courtyard, Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, BA1 1LY. 01225/463362; www.bathcomedy.com.
Bath Festival. Held over 17 days in May, the Bath Festival is a multi-arts celebration of literature and music in and around the city. Events include classical, jazz, and world-music concerts, dance performances, literary talks, and exhibitions, many in the Assembly Rooms and Bath Abbey. Bath Box Office, 2 Terrace Walk, Bath, Bath and North East Somerset, BA1 2LN. 01225/463362; www.bathfestivals.org.uk.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Held over a week in late April and early May, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival presents noted musicians from around the world. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 01242/850270; www.cheltenhamfestivals.com.
Jane Austen Festival. Celebrating the great writer with films, plays, walks, and talks over nine days in mid-September, the Jane Austen Festival is a feast for Janeites. Bath, Bath and North East Somerset. 01225/443000; www.janeaustenfestivalbath.co.uk.
Literature Festival. The 10-day Literature Festival in October brings world-renowned authors, actors, and critics to Cheltenham for hundreds of readings, lectures, and other events. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 01242/850270; www.cheltenhamfestivals.com.
Music Festival. Cheltenham's famous Music Festival, held over 10 days in early July, highlights new compositions, often conducted by the composers themselves, plus a wide variety of choral and instrumental classical pieces. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 01242/850270; www.cheltenhamfestivals.com.
Science Festival. For five days in early June, the Science Festival attracts leading scientists and writers to Cheltenham. Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 01242/850270; www.cheltenhamfestivals.com.