Do you love literature? Revel in the written word? Got a penchant for poets? You’ll want to be in town during October for the Cheltenham Literature Festival.
Cheltenham Literature Festival
Established in 1949, the Cheltenham Literature Festival is the longest-running one of its kind in the world. It welcomes some of the greatest living writers and thinkers on the planet to the town over the course of ten days in autumn for a celebration of novels, plays, essays and all sorts.
Naturally, the festival line-up changes with each passing year. Nevertheless, the formula remains the same. Hundreds of the world’s finest writers, actors, politicians and poets converge in Cheltenham for a programme of nearly 500 debates, interviews and workshops, which offer something for readers of all ages, regardless of literary taste. To give you an idea of the calibre of literary figures who have attended the festival, the list of previous guests includes the likes of Stephen Fry, Stephen Hawking, Martin Amis, Judi Dench, Nick Hornby, Jeremy Paxman, Michael Parkinson, Jacqueline Wilson and Philip Pullman.
In truth, much of the festival’s charm comes from the fact that it caters for such a diverse range of genres. One moment you can be whimsically waxing lyrical with fellow festival goers about the curious creations of Roald Dahl, the next you can be delving into the distressing plays of Sarah Kane, all before being absorbed in a debate between a Hollywood celebrity and a political leader; that’s the Cheltenham Literature Festival for you.
Much of the action takes place in the Montpellier Gardens – a little over a mile down Gloucester Road from our Cheltenham Central hotel – which are transformed into a ‘Festival Village’ with all manner of tents, indoor event spaces and street food options. Plus, some of the most popular venues from the Cheltenham entertainment scene, such as Cheltenham Town Hall and the Parabola Arts Centre, play their part by hosting a number of the festival’s events too.
As you’d expect from the oldest literary festival in the world, Cheltenham is by far one of the most prestigious as well. In 2017, as part of the festival’s programme, Hillary Clinton spoke candidly in a far-reaching interview that covered topics such as Brexit, Donald Trump and the Wikileaks scandal. With such high profile speakers, it’s fitting that Cheltenham Literature Festival is also where the Nick Clarke Award is presented for the best broadcast interview of the year.