Chipping Norton is a busy little market town with a thriving high street, plenty of places to eat and drink and an array of interesting things to see and do. So, whether you want to live like a local, go walking in the surrounding Cotswolds countryside, or get tickets for the literature festival, these ideas will help you make the most of your time away.
Chipping Norton is a popular base for walkers, so make up a picnic of freshly made sandwiches from one of the delis, head into the countryside and explore. A good place to start is on one of the two waymarked circular routes from the town.
The ‘Step into the Cotswolds 1’ route is 2.5 miles long, graded as easy and ventures through undulating countryside to Over Norton, then back.
For more of a workout, try ‘Step into the Cotswolds 2’ that is 6.5 miles long and takes in the pretty villages of Salford and Cornwell. Both walks will give you a wonderful taste of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Chipping Norton Theatre is tucked away on Spring Street and is a cultural gem, not to mention a surprise to many who don’t realise it’s there.
Originally a Salvation Army Citadel built in 1888, the building was bought by two Royal Shakespeare Company actors in 1968 and was transformed into a theatre.
It’s a hub for the local community and visitors and offers a 214-seat theatre, concert hall, arthouse cinema and art gallery.
With a wide range of activities, workshops, arts and entertainment on offer, if you’re looking for entertainment, don’t hesitate to treat yourself to tickets for a play or pop into the latest exhibition.
Fairytale Farm is a place where fairy tales, animals, adventures and play combine into a magical experience for little ones.
Everybody is welcome, but the layout, attractions and facilities have been specifically designed with disabled children in mind, so everything is accessible to all.
There’s lots of fun to be had across a variety of zones that include the Enchanted Walk for a fairy tale sensory experience including a sensory garden, musical chimes and dancing fountains; Alfie and Friends where you can say hello to animals including alpacas, ponies and pigs; and Jack’s Yard which has a model village just for mice, a sandpit and an indoor soft play area.
If you’re in town on the third Saturday of the month, head to the Market Place where the monthly Farmers’ Market is held from 8.30 am until 1.30 pm.
The very best of local produce and handcrafted food and drink are showcased by local suppliers, so feel free to ask questions about provenance or whether a sample is possible before you purchase.
From fresh veg and eggs to homemade pies and charcuterie, it’s a great place to stock up on delicious ingredients to make dinner or to find something to snack on as you wander around the town.
Just north of Chipping Norton, on an unclassified road, is the ancient site of the Rollright Stones. This collection of megalithic monuments is surrounded by legends and mystery.
The Whispering Knights dolmen is the oldest element of the site and dates from as early as 3,800 BC and is accompanied by the King Stone and the King’s Men Stone Circle.
It is said that if you count the stones in the circle three times and get the same answer, any wish you make will be granted.
The site is also open at night-time for stargazing and is regularly used by the Chipping Norton Amateur Astronomy Group that sometimes organise stargazing events for the public.
Why not time your visit for one of the festivals held in and around Chipping Norton? The ChipLitFest is held every April and has something for everyone from talks by writers and public figures, to readings of poetry and children’s book events.
If music is more your thing, the Chipping Norton Music Festival, held in March, is one of the oldest festivals of its kind and showcases choirs and musicians, with visitors welcome to watch a host of concerts.
Meanwhile, about 4 miles away from Chipping Norton, near Kingham, the Big Feastival is held every summer. This fun-filled weekend promises music from some of the UK’s biggest artists, live cooking demonstrations and a host of child-friendly events, making it great for all the family.
Heythrop Zoological Gardens is a private zoo that is dedicated to educating about animal behaviour and raising the standards of animal welfare.
Apart from its annual open day, the zoo is only open to the general public by appointment for a range of unique animal experiences.
These exclusive wildlife encounters are fantastic for individuals and families. Get close to your favourite animals and learn more about them and their habitat.
Experiences include a llama encounter where you can feed and walk a llama, meeting a Two-Toed-Sloth and walking with a wolf.