Welcome to the Great West Way - the 125 mile touring route from London to Bristol where the possibilities are endless. You can explore by boat, bike, foot, car, coach or a combination of all. Create an itinerary focused on anything that suits your travel passions and style: cities, family, food and drink, luxury, sports, shopping, royal history, outdoor activities, or film and TV.
Along the route, we’re highlighting a few of this year’s not to be missed festivals and events.
This is your year to travel along the Great West Way!
Bristol: Bristol International Balloon Fiesta
August 8 - 11, 2019
The annual event features more than 130 hot air balloons from across the globe meeting in Bristol for The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. Held at Ashton Court Estate, the event is free (just purchase parking tickets if you’re driving) and suitable for the whole family! While the balloons are a sight to behold with a beautiful array of color, the event is much more than just about the balloons. There’s fireworks, arena entertainment, balloon rides, live music performances, and a variety of food to choose from.
Bath: Jane Austen Festival
September 13 - 22, 2019
A must for Jane Austen fans! The largest and longest running Jane Austen festival in the world is held in Bath, celebrating all things Regency and kicks off with the Regency Costumed Charity Promenade. It’s a record breaking event where more than 500 people dress in 18th century costume. 3,500 people take part in this 10-day festival dedicated to Jane Austen fans. Three months before the festival, step back in time at the 2019 Summer Ball, this year on June 29, and take part in dancing, dinner and card games held at the Guildhall.
Cheltenham: Cheltenham Festivals
May, June, July, October 2019
Cheltenham is home to four internationally-acclaimed festivals - Jazz, Science, Music and Literature. The Jazz Festival, held in May features some of the genre’s biggest names and emerging talents. The Science Festival, held in June has featured family friendly activities, including star gazing. The Music Festival, held in July, is known as one of the most prestigious in the world, spanning genres and mediums. And the Literature Festival hosts talks, entertainment, storytelling for kids, and book signings.
Bradford-on-Avon: Bradford-on-Avon Food & Drink Festival
June 1, 2019
The Bradford-on-Avon Food & Drink Festival is a must for foodies and history lovers. Held at Victory Field, there will be chef demonstrations, artisan food producers, a street food market, a pop up pub featuring local breweries and cider makers, and an opportunity to shop for unique homeware. Dogs are also welcome and can enter into a family fun dog show, supporting the Hearing Dogs for Deaf People charity. And of course, make the most of the town’s historic sights and canals.
Chippenham: Chippenham Folk Festival
May 24 - 27, 2019
The Chippenham Folk Festival has been featuring the best of English traditional folk music and dance annually for more than 45 years. The festival’s location in Chippenham is a small Georgian market town in the Wiltshire countryside. There’s song and music performances, a traditional ceilidh, folk dance, storytelling, and events for the whole family.
Salisbury: Chalke Valley History Festival
June 24 - 30, 2019
Chalke Valley History Festival is the largest festival in Great Britain dedicated entirely to history. Join the festival for a week of informative and entertaining debates, discussions and lectures, and watch historians bring history to life through demonstrations such as historic cookery, skills-at-arms, and traditional dancing.
Marlborough: Marlborough Literature Festival
September 26 - 29, 2019
Marlborough is a market town in rural Wiltshire and hosts the annual Marlborough Literature Festival. This event celebrates writing and storytelling through events for children and live talks by authors. In previous years, there have been bookbinding workshops and presentations about rare books.
Henley on Thames: Henley Festival
July 10 - 14, 2019
Celebrating the best of British and International music and arts, this non-profit festival works in partnership with charities and is also known for its dress code - black tie only. The program includes performances from a range of musical genres from pop to world music and classical to jazz. This year, the festival is working in partnership with The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust which educates young people about the importance of staying mentally well, and The Teenage Wilderness Trust which helps students regain their self-esteem and desire to learn.
Windsor: Royal Ascot
June 18 - 22, 2019
The world-famous horse racing event attended by members of the Royal Family spans five days and is known as a major social and fashion event in addition to a sporting event. There is a strict dress code depending on which of the four enclosures you choose to watch the races from. The Royal Enclosure was historically reserved for guests of King George III and is now for members only, where ladies are required to wear formal daywear and morning suits for gentlemen. Meanwhile, the Queen Anne Enclosure is not as formal but requires ladies to wear a hat and gentleman to wear a matching suit and tie. And there’s also the Windsor Enclosure, where no formal dress code is enforced.
London: Totally Thames 2019
September 1 - 30, 2019
This festival is all about the River Thames, the body of water that flows through London and parts of southern England. Events are held throughout the month of September on, beneath and along the river. These diverse and creative river related programs in the past have included paddle steamers, art installations, immersive sound walks, live performances, and paddle boarding, with a different theme each year.