Prior to the eighteenth century CHELTENHAM was like any other small-time Gloucestershire town, until the discovery of a spring in 1716 transformed it into Britain’s most popular spa. During Cheltenham’s heyday, a century or so later, the royal, the rich and the famous descended in droves to take the waters, which were said to cure anything from constipation to worms. These days, the town has a lively, bustling atmosphere, lots of good restaurants and some of England’s best-preserved Regency architecture. The town is also a thriving arts centre, famous for its festivals of folk (Feb), jazz (April/May), science (June), classical music (July) and literature (Oct) and, of course, the races.

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