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Where to spend New Year’s Eve in the Forest of Dean

Posted on 21st December 2016

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to celebrate the coming of the New Year. The Forest of Dean may be more famous for its wild woodlands than its wild parties, but there are plenty of exciting events to enjoy for the New Year, whether you live in the area or are on a Forest of Dean cottage holiday. So, take a break from the last-minute Christmas shopping and check out these New Year’s Eve events in the Forest of Dean, from parties to plays.

New Year’s Eve parties

Toasting drinks

If you’re looking for a classic New Year’s Eve party with a twist whilst avoiding the rush of the capital city, then Gloucester is the place to be on December the 31st. Various events ranging from pub quizzes to club nights will be occurring across the district, so whatever your style, there’s sure to be a soirée to suit you.

Liquid Gloucester Masquerade Ball

On the evening of the 31st, Liquid-Diva Gloucester will be hosting a full-blown New Year’s Eve party at their Masquerade Ball. If you fancy heading out with a group of friends to dance in 2017, look no further. Expect a champagne bar, performers and dancers, a full club transformation to recreate the theme and professional photographers ready to capture your best moments all night. In Liquid, dance to club anthems of 2016 with laser lighting, Co2 cannons, stilt walkers, pyrotechnics and confetti cannons. In Diva, expect iconic tunes from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, plus retro giveaways.

Café Rene

For something a little more traditional, Café Rene is the perfect place to visit on New Year’s Eve. Nestled in the cobbled Southgate Street in Gloucester, this venue offers a spirited setting for the evening, with two floors providing revellers plenty of space to dance all night, or enjoy a casual drink if you prefer. As SoGlos report, past New Year’s Eve themes at Café Rene include musical genres spanning from house beats to indie anthems, so this is set to be a great place to be come midnight!

Eating and drinking


As well as a variety of fantastic local pubs and restaurants spread throughout the Forest of Dean area, several venues are hosting specialist themed nights for the festive season. So, if you’re not a party-goer, yet would still like to indulge in a tipple or a delicious meal, the Forest is a fantastic place to spend your New Year’s Eve.

The Grand Tour Dining Experience at Aunt Martha’s

Possibly the most unique food and drink experience in the Forest of Dean area for New Year’s Eve is to be found at The Grand Tour Dining Experience at Aunt Martha’s. This Victorian-themed venue is set to undergo a transformation on the 31st, transporting guests into three unique time periods like no other in one immersive dining experience. Aunt Martha’s has created three exclusive dining areas – the ‘Oriental Tea Pagoda’, an ancient Egyptian temple and the imperial Indian palace anti-room. Complete with original artefacts and unique dishes, this is set to be an unforgettable experience for the taste buds and the imagination alike!

Family events

Clearwell Caves

Image Credit: Penny Mayes (Wikimedia Commons)

Of course, New Year’s Eve isn’t all about the adults, and so if you’re in search of the perfect family activity, the Forest of Dean is full of opportunities. With acres of fascinating woodlands and plenty of family-friendly attractions, there is something to keep everyone happy here!

Evie’s Aeroplane Christmas Fantasy at Clearwell Caves

Spark the imagination and creativity of the little ones this New Year’s Eve with ‘Evie’s Aeroplane’ at the Clearwell Caves. This delightful fantasy creation is a charming story about a little girl and her toy aeroplane, following their adventures during the Christmas season. Track the displays telling the enchanting story of ‘Evie’s Aeroplane’ created through nine impressive caverns, all designed by children’s book illustrator Heather Holland. The adults can also enjoy an underground Christmas market selling seasonal gifts and decorations and an underground Café as the kids explore.

Whitemead Winter Woodland

Situated at the heart of the ancient Forest of Dean, Whitemead Forest Park is the perfect place to spend a few hours during the day of the 31st, in a classic countryside setting. Between strolling through the enchanting woodlands, take a spin on the synthetic ice rink and visit craft stalls for trinkets and artisan dishes. There are also several adrenaline-pumping activities to sample, such as archery, fencing, body zorbs, snorkelling and much more, plus a children’s indoor play area. To toast in the New Year, a bar is open daily, and if you decide to visit on New Year’s Day, you can even enjoy a delicious Sunday carvery.

Outdoor activities

Ice skating

For many, New Year’s Eve means champagne and Auld Lang Syne, but for others, the best way to welcome in the New Year is by ending 2016 as you mean to go on. If you’re a fan of outdoor activities and trying new things, why not sample these slightly more unusual activities on the 31st?

Ice skating at the Gloucester Docks

Head to the Gloucester Docks on New Year’s Eve to show off your skating skills on the ice rink for the evening. Perfect for anyone ages three or above, ice skating is a fun and festive way to celebrate the New Year. Plus, until the 2nd of January, skaters receive a special reduced price admission to the National Waterways Museum, Gloucester, which has recently been renovated and shares the history of Britain’s canals and rivers with boat trips and more.

Wild bird feeding at Slimbridge Wetland Centre

The perfect pastime for families with young children, or a day out with elderly grandparents, the Slimbridge Wetland Centre is hosting a special wild bird feeding session on the 31st December. Relax in the comfort of the heated observatory and learn from the warden’s commentary as he feeds the thousands of wild birds and hundreds of Bewick’s swans that have flown all the way from arctic Russia to Slimbridge for the winter. You can also take a walk around the reserve, getting up close to rare and exotic birds, mammals and the largest collection of amphibians in the entire county. From canoe safaris and an outdoor water play area to otters and flamingos to see, this is the perfect activity for all.

Mince Pie Special at Dean Forest Railway

If you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve event that is truly local, the Mince Pie Special at the Dean Forest Railway is for you. Take a relaxing stroll through the surrounding forest to spot deer and wild boar, before enjoying lunch at the railway café. The main event, though, is a trip on the traditional steam engine train, where every passenger will receive a complimentary mince pie.


Gloucester’s wet November – Rainy day activities in the Forest of Dean

Posted on 22nd November 2016

Various regions of the British Isles have encountered flooding in the past couple of weeks, and today the Gloucestershire City Police among other organisations have released safety recommendations for residents and visitors travelling in the area. As of yet, the Forest of Dean has not seen any significant incidents, and luckily the area is well-prepared for extreme weather. However, if you are headed on a Forest of Dean cottage holiday, it is worthwhile keeping some basic measures in mind before setting out on the roads to allow you to enjoy your visit to the full.

Forest of Dean Lake

On Twitter, the Gloucestershire City Police reminded county residents, “Please be aware of standing water on roads. If you come across a flooded road, drive through highest section slowly. If in doubt don’t enter”. According to Gloucestershire Live, the RAC also released recommendations for drivers, including pointers such as ensuring windscreen wipers are fully functional, filling up with fuel before travel, carrying a mobile phone in case you encounter any difficulties during your journey and checking that your tyres are of the recommended tyre tread depth. If you are travelling up to the Forest of Dean area at this time of year it is good to keep these protocols in mind.

The Forest of Dean is a beautiful location to visit at this time of year, regardless of the weather. Get your wellies on and head out into the woodland to enjoy the rich colours of the leaves on the trees, and to catch a glimpse of the diverse local wildlife going about their daily lives. The Environment Agency are currently advising walkers to avoid rivers such as the River Lyd and Cinderford Brook during heavy rain, as these can flow quickly and occasionally flood.

What to do in the Forest of Dean on rainy days

Luckily, there is plenty to do in the Forest of Dean on a rainy day. Why not visit a local museum such as Gloucester City museum, where the kids can dress up as a Roman soldier and you can discover all about the background of this fascinating region? The Dean Heritage Centre is the perfect day out for art and history lovers, with five galleries exploring the history of the area from the Ice Age to the present day and a Victorian school room to spark children’s imaginations! Alternatively, Gloucestershire is full of fantastic theatres such as The Playhouse, and Cotswold Farm Park is full of adorable farm animals in warm, dry barns. For the adventure-lover, there are plenty of climbing walls, go karting centres and even a laser tag arena in Gloucester. Or, to while away the hours on a rainy afternoon whilst gaining a new skill, get creative and paint some pottery whilst enjoying a coffee at shops around the county.

So, whatever the weather, you’ll never be short of ways to spend some delightful days in the Forest of Dean!

Image Credit: Andrew Callow (Visualhunt)

Monmouthshire Show set to entertain Forest of Dean

Posted on 12th August 2016

The Monmouthshire Show is ready to welcome thousands of visitors to enjoy the best the Forest of Dean region has to offer. Labelled as the “Biggest One Day Show in Wales” by organisers, it is a chance to enjoy the agricultural heritage around the River Wye.

Horse galloping at Monmouthshire Show

Scheduled to happen on the 25th August, the show is a perfect destination for families enjoying a cottage holiday in the Forest of Dean. The event includes farm life events and demonstrations. There will be equipment, livestock competitions, horse jumping competitions and more.

In the main ring, there are some unique and exciting events to keep the crowds entertained. The Stampede Stunt Company will stage a medieval jousting tournament; ponies will race pulling scurry carriages in a fast and exciting event. There will be an appearance by the Monmouthshire Fox Hounds and Inter Hunt Relay.

A highlight of the day will be the Grand Parade. In the Main Ring, all of the prize-winning animals will be brought out for display to those in attendance. The champions from each section will be presented with their trophies and awards.

The grounds for the Monmouthshire Show are right on the banks of the River Wye – located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The event includes horticulture displays, dog shows, and a tremendous locally made craft and shopping marquee. The event will feature a food and drink hall as well.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Monmouthshire Show website.

Image Credit: Keith Moseley (flickr.com)

Thomas the Tank Engine to visit Dean Forest Railway

Posted on 01st August 2016

The Dean Forest Railway will welcome one of the country’s most famous tank engines in August as Thomas and his friends will make an appearance at the Gloucestershire attraction.

Thomas the Tank Engine

On the weekend of 19-21 August, Thomas the Tank Engine will pull into the historic train depot. During the event, visitors will be able to ride on a real steam engine, shake hands with the well-known Fat Controller, as well as experience a whole host of activities at the Thomas-themed “Imagination Station”.

The Day Out with Thomas is sure to be a hit with the little ones. For those enjoying a cottage holiday in the Forest of Dean, a trip to the railway may be the perfect day out.

The tourist attraction offers a 4.5 mile track through the beautiful woodlands of the Forest of Dean. The railway line includes five stations that allow visitors to jump off and enjoy a variety of guided walks, country pubs, as well as access to Lydney Harbour and the Severn Estuary.

You can book tickets for the event at www.dayoutwiththomas.co.uk/deanforest.

The ticket affords you entrance to the event and more. The kids can take Brake Van Rides with Thomas. Take some storytelling train rides on Daisy and The Big Steam Train. There will be re-enactments of famous scenes from Thomas & Friends as well.

Attendees will receive stickers, a certificate, and feature a miniature railway display. For a bit of tradition, there will also be Punch & Judy Shows and on-train entertainers.

Image Credit: Henry Burrows (flickr.com)

Humble Farm welcomes everyone for a `Big Day Out’ in the Wye Valley

Posted on 18th June 2016

The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley will again celebrate the region’s vast natural history with a family-friendly event that is sure to help you enjoy your stay.

Wye Valley

The Big Day Out is an outdoor farm festival held over the first weekend in July. A great event to enjoy whilst staying at a holiday cottage in the Forest of Dean, it is a mixture of fun, farming, food, and live music. Celebrating life in the Wye Valley, the event takes place at Humble by Nature – a working farm owned and run by TV presenter Kate Humble.

There are plenty of things for the family to enjoy at the Big Day Out – especially the children. The Jitterbug Circus, Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, Wild Tots outdoor play, and a number of craft workshops are set to entertain the crowds. In rural education, attendees will be taught important survival skills such as den making and building fires.

It includes a wide range of celebrity guests as well. On Friday, a new comedy evening will feature Miles Jupp, the host of BBC Radio 4’s The News Quiz. Saturday Kitchen presenter Matt Tebbutt will be on hand to present cookery demonstrations where he’ll create some mouth-watering dishes. And famous choir master Gareth Malone will lead children in attendance in a sing-along on Saturday afternoon.

There is also live music with performances Swing from Paris, Remi Harris, Railroad Bill, Grace Hartrey, The Monty and Life of Reilly.

Humble by Nature was started in 2010 when Humble and her husband bought the land in Monmouth in the Wye Valley. The working farm focuses on helping visitors get a better understanding of agriculture, conservation and cooking as well. Humble is best known for presenting a number of BBC programmes on science and wildlife.

For more information about the festival, please visit the event page.

Image Credit: Danny Chapman (flickr.com)