things to do in Banbury

People and hometowns – Things to do in Banbury

I don’t know if it’s the same where you’re from, but so many people seem to put a downer on where they live. I don’t know if it’s just our area Banbury, or just a British thing. People seem to forget that there are plenty of things to do in Banbury.

I don’t understand why. If people hate it so much, why don’t they move away.

Ok, not always so easy to move away, especially if you’ve lived somewhere your whole life. But maybe a change would do some good and make people realise that where they’re from isn’t too bad.

Why are people so down on towns?

Some of it might be a bit of humour.

Some people really might think their town is awful.

Maybe they’ve been unlucky in a place. Lost their job. Lost family and friends. Had crime against them. Maybe they don’t like to see how places they’ve known for years change. Or the area they live is getting worn out, or they have antisocial neighbours and they can’t move out.

things to do in Banbury

Putting off newcomers

Our local facebook page is full of it. If someone new is moving to the area, often they’ll come on the page and ask for advice on where’s good to live. Which are the good schools, and what there is to do. Then the negative comments start.

Why put others off, when maybe they’re the people to come in and make positive changes? Maybe they have money to invest, set up new exciting businesses, provide more jobs and additional workforce.

There’s obviously plenty of people who like our town otherwise we wouldn’t live here.

Admittedly I don’t live in the town, but after moving to the area age 7, I was brought up here. Before moving away for university and then for several years for work. I didn’t intend to come back but when you end up married to a farmer, you’ve not got much choice unless you live apart. But it’s not a bad place to live.

Positive points about Banbury that people forget

  • Unemployment is relatively low.
  • There’s good transport links
  • We’re in a good location in the country to visit other places.
  • We’re relatively rural so lots of green space and walks around the area, including the ‘country park’, canal, and the reservoir, all within walking distance of the town centre.
  • We have lots of opportunities for joining local sports clubs and societies.
  • There’s a great little theatre and arts centre.
  • When the town does events they do them well – food fayres, farmers market, canal day
  • The old town has some lovely specialist independent shops.
  • We have every supermarket in the town except for Asda (nearest one is only 21 miles away)
fine lady statue in Banbury

Yes there’s issues here.

  • Lots of boarded up shops, like every other market town in the country.
  • Not much for older children to do once they’re looking to be more independent. Although we do have a good sports centre, lots of sports clubs and teams, school holiday camps, a lovely 50 metre outdoor pool as well as indoor pool in town, and several other nearby school pools open to the public, bowling and a cinema. Oh, and in 2022 The Light multiscreen cinema complex opened with crazy golf, bowling, climbing, and more.
  • Too many coffee shops, card shops, barbers, nail shops, hairdressers and charity shops. Oh yes, like lots of other towns, because online can’t really compete with most of these.
  • Bad decisions by the town planners meaning lots of shops have moved out of town, so you can’t now do all your shopping in one area, you have to get in your car and drive to sometimes 3 or 4 different areas in town.
  • Parking costs, they’ve gone up again and we have no allowance for free parking unlike other towns in our county (and even run by the same council). Sundays council parking is a bargain though, still £1 for as long as you want.
  • Too much building of houses joining up villages to the town, but no provision for better roads, no new secondary school to cope, and dentists are very hard to come by. Bus services are being reduced. House prices are insane as we’re in Oxfordshire, so outside the town they’re particularly high and people can struggle to buy where they want.

None of these issues are singular to our town. The same issues are happening all over the country, and hopefully the new ‘leisure’ area being developed around the canal will encourage more people to come here for food and the cinema, rather than going elsewhere. Maybe more people will encourage more businesses to come back into the shopping centre. Or maybe they’ll turn some of it into town centre flats (although I’d love it to be more leisure activities like climbing wall or indoor karting etc).

So here’s my proof that whatever some locals say, there’s always positives. And despite people saying there isn’t anything, there are plenty of things to do in Banbury.

Things to do in Banbury for children

Visit the park – there’s children’s play areas and bike/skateboard ramp at Spiceball Park and People’s Park have a playground, tennis court, and an aviary.

net roundabout
N wasn’t convinced by this as a roundabout

Baby bounce for under 5s, several mornings a week at Spiceball Leisure Centre.

Go to the cinema – current one is a small scruffy Odeon, but you can go during school holidays and weekends for the cheap kids club tickets which are a bargain. The new 7 screen Light Cinema has just opened by the canal though, so more options.

Go ten pin bowling.

Visit The Light Banbury, not only for the cinema, but there’s karaoke, crazy golf, boutique bowling, a climbing wall, laser darts and more.

bowling alley lanes

Do some of the walks around parts of town which have recently been painted on the pavements. Follow the trail

Do a Treasure Map Trail* – these are fun fantasy maps for children and families, where you can follow the trails around the town to find out more about the history.

Walk around Banbury reservoir, and enjoy the nature reserve behind it.

Try sports – Rugby Tots, Little Kickers, or join Wade Gym which is on the way out of town.

Enjoy crafts at the museum during school holidays event times.

looking at brick wonders displays

Rugrats and Halfpints soft play

Train spotting

Where to play sports in Banbury

  • Go to a Banbury Utd match, 2022 has seen them win their league and be promoted.
  • Go sailing – Banbury Cross Sailing Club
  • Try Banbury and District Canoeing club.
  • Swim in the 50 metre outdoor pool or at Spiceball Leisure Centre
  • Join one of the gyms
  • Play rugby at Banbury Rugby Club
  • Reminisce your school days and try Banbury hockey or netball clubs.
  • Join a football club – there’s Easington Sports, Banbury United, Banbury Irish and others
  • Play tennis at Banbury tennis club, or on the public courts at People’s Park
  • Do Park Run on Saturday mornings at Spiceball Park
  • Join Banbury Harriers if you’re a runner or into Athletics
  • Cyclists have Banbury Star Cyclist Club
  • Banbury Cricket club
rallye monte carlo historique cars in Banbury

Cultural and historical activities in Banbury

  • Visit the Reindeer pub to find out about the old passages from English Civil War times
  • Banbury Museum – for history of the canal and town, plus events and adhoc exhibitions
  • Visit the library
  • Check out Tooley’s Boatyard to watch a working boatyard
  • Visit The Mill Arts Centre for performances, craft courses, films and more.
Cinderella stage show
Credit: Creation Theatre

Other activities in Banbury

  • Roller Disco most Saturdays at the leisure centre.
  • Eat street food out by the canal in Lock 29
  • Keep a look out for giant inflatables courses that come to town through the year.
  • Scramm escape rooms
  • Shopping – try the independents down Parsons Street in the Old Town, or the chains at Gateway Retail Park.
  • Walk the canal towpath
  • Look out for special events like food fayres, christmas markets, canal day, Banbury show and more. These are usually pretty good and well attended.
canalboats at banbury1

How is your town faring in these changing times?

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