The main shopping area, centred on the pedestrianised Gate Streets in the city centre, incorporates two high-street malls. Nearby are a traditional covered market and an outdoor market, selling everything from curtains to cauliflower. There’s also a weekly farmers’ market.
If you’re looking for a bargain, visit the Gloucester Quays Outlet Centre at Gloucester Docks, where discounts are as high as 70% off brands such as Bench, Nike, Gap and Osprey.
Unsurprisingly, antiques are something of a speciality in this historic city. You can poke through the myriad offerings at the Gloucester Antiques Centre, recently moved to a lovely old building on Westgate Street, or browse for vintage finds at Upstairs Downstairs, a spacious warehouse on Severn Road near the Docks.
Discerning shoppers travel the few miles to Cheltenham for its larger malls and independent retail scene, especially in womenswear, beauty, interiors and books.
Best gift shops in Gloucester
The World of Beatrix Potter: The characters from Beatrix Potter’s much-loved tales, including “The Tailor of Gloucester”, come in stuffed toy, china or book form at this small gift shop and museum near the cathedral. Gloucestershire Arts Crafts Centre: Offering handcrafted items at good prices, including jewellery, textiles, paintings by local county artists, this centre is tucked into an alley opposite the Beatrix Potter shop. Fab Faded: Bric-a-brac and retro delights, from crockery to clothing, are crammed into two floors in this shop on Southgate Street.
Culture Nightlife in Gloucester
The city’s main entertainment venue is the multipurpose Gloucester Guildhall, on Eastgate Street. Here you can catch indie, rock and folk bands, enjoy stand-up comedy, view an exhibition or watch art house and mainstream films. The Docks quarter has some popular late-night bars and a buzzing, studenty vibe, while traditional real ale pubs are the order of the day in the centre of town.
Gloucester’s music scene is nicely varied, from rock and punk bands playing intimate gigs in pubs to chamber and choral concerts at Gloucester Cathedral. There’s no lack of well-established annual music festivals, including the Cajun Zydeco Festival, the Rhythm Blues Festival and the Three Choirs Festival, which rotates among the cathedral towns of Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester. Local theatre lovers head to the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, which stages everything from opera to a much-loved annual panto in its ornate Victorian auditorium.
Gloucester’s best pubs: Café Rene: A cosy venue off Southgate Street, with a jam-packed terrace and hundreds of old wine bottles on the ceiling. Bands and DJs play three nights a week.
New Inn: New in the 15th century, but distinctly venerable these days, this black-and-white galleried coaching inn on Northgate Street is where Lady Jane Grey announced her succession to the English throne in 1553. Tank: Down at the Docks, this craft beer specialist is an offshoot of the award-winning Gloucester Brewery across the water. The bare-brick interior gives off a funky, industrial edge.
Visiting Gloucester with a Family
Gloucester’s museums cater well for children, with exhibitions, trails and workshops specially designed to interest young visitors. Indoor activities range from climbing to go-karting, and in summer you can explore the city’s canals by boat. The medieval cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral appeal to wannabe wizards: they stood in for the corridors of Hogwarts School in three Harry Potter movies. The occasional Potter-themed guided tours sell out fast.Also in the city centre, the Gloucester City Museum Art Gallery has dinosaur skeletons and Roman remains, while the Docks offer boatloads of fun at the revamped Gloucester Waterways Museum.
‘Flying experiences’ with owls, buzzards and hawks are available at the Barn Owl Centre, near Quedgeley. In Cheltenham, expansive Pittville Park is a perennial favourite thanks to its play areas, birds and bunny rabbits, as well as two lakes for boating and fishing.
Gloucester’s best waterside attractions
Tall Ships: This swashbuckling festival brings high-masted sailing ships, pirate battles and family entertainments galore to Gloucester Docks. It takes place every odd-numbered year, in May.
Sandford Parks Lido: Make a splash at this open-air paradise in Cheltenham, which has a 50-metre main pool, a paddling pool and a kids’ pool. The water is heated and there’s plenty of grass for sunbathing.
Prinknash Bird Deer Park: A half an hour’s drive east of Gloucester, this landscaped lakeside park is home to white peacocks, tame fallow deer and several charming, painted wooden houses.
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