Cheltenham Literature Festival: Free Events

Published:

…around town free events and Lit Crawl line up announced!

Literature is coming to town and there are more than 80 free events at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival (4-13 October). The Festival has worked with Cheltenham BID to make sure that the town's businesses, shops, cafes, bars and hotels are part of the fun.

Featuring an astonishing variety of book-themed events across the town, from cool spoken word gigs, literary pub quizzes, tarot reading, improv comedy and wine tasting, to storytelling sessions and family fun trails, people of all ages will find something to enjoy.

Looking for ideas of things to do today? View all the listings including the Literature Festival activities and more here

…around town

Children from ten local primary schools have created colourful canvases featuring Elmer the patchwork elephant and an array of animal friends for a picture parade around town. Young fans can meet the patchwork pachyderm in a storytelling session on Saturday 5 October at Cheltenham’s Regent Arcade. Find out more.

A brand-new poetry trail: The Minds of Our Generation has been created by Ambient Literature to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Festival. Readings from poets who appeared at the Festival during the last 7 decades have been recreated across the streets of the town, echoing through the years long after their Festival is complete. The route follows locations within Cheltenham Paint Festival and will be available via a free app.

The popular Lit Crawl (Saturday 5 October 5pm till late) sees pop-up events and quirky happenings all over the streets, cafes and pubs of Cheltenham for a late-night literary fix. Beginning in San Francisco in 2004 and now a firm fixture of the Cheltenham Literature Festival calendar, Lit Crawl blends a bar crawl with some of the best up and coming spoken word performers, readings, comedy and parties held in the hottest spots around town finishing up at Bottle of Sauce for a riotous finale. And after dark, the Festival Club at the centrally-placed Hotel du Vin offers late night music and revelry on Fridays and Saturdays. Find out more.

On site at the Festival

The Festival Village in Montpellier Gardens has plenty of free family-friendly activities, including:

Elsewhere there is plenty for all ages to discover on site: meeting favourite authors and celebrities in Waterstones bookshops; daily readings from local authors, brain teasers and live music, a daily Times crossword, and a daily instalment of brainy soapbox-style talks in The Huddle. Swap books in the cosy outdoor lounge The Bookstand and or see Festival inspired art at the Gardens Gallery.

Lyndsey Fineran, Programme and Commissions Manager said: “We’re on a mission to infect the whole town with the book-loving bug whatever your age and wherever you live. We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Cheltenham for the Literature Festival and we want to get the whole community involved in celebrating books and the spoken word.”

…around town is supported by Cheltenham BID, The Tavern, Hotel du Vin, Travelbag

Free activities:

Time

Venue

Event

Details

DAILY

Daily 10am – 4pm

Woodland Trust Wild Wood

Secret Seven Mystery Trail

Celebrate 70 years of the world favourite detective club. Pick up a trail sheet from the John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent

Daily 10am 8.30pm

Montpellier Gardens

The Bookstand

Take a break and grab a book in the cosy outdoor lounge in the middle of the Festival Village. Read the morning paper, swap some books and plan your Festival day.

Daily, 10am – 4pm

The Chatterbox

Drop in activities

Pop in and become a secret agent, decoding mysterious messages. Create your own detective mask and then head out on a secret kindness mission.

Daily 10am

-6pm

Montpellier Gardens

Gardens Gallery

Exhibition of contemporary designer-makers from The Gloucestershire Guild of Craftsmen.

Daily, 11am– 3pm

Various venues

Elmer and Friends trail

...around town

To celebrate 30 years of David McKee’s Elmer, ten primary schools from across Gloucestershire have created their own friends for the much-loved patchwork elephant.

Regent Arcade; Waterstones; Children's Library; Triple 2 Coffee; Vinegar Hill; John Lewis; Mr Mulligans Lost World Golf; Boston Tea Party; Smokey Joes

Daily Anytime

Poetry Trail: The Minds of Our Generation

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Festival, readings from poets who appeared at the Festival during the last fifty years have been recreated across the streets of the town, echoing through the years long after their Festival is complete. The route follows locations within Cheltenham Paint Festival and the whole experience will take a little over an hour to complete. Download the app and get your walking shoes on.

Mon - Sun 10am - 10pm

Sky Arts Studio

Drop in activities

Sky Arts will be filming across the week with dedicated programming airing daily from 7-13 October. Plus free drop-in creative workshops throughout the day in the Sky Arts studio related to literature, reading, books and writing.

WEEKDAYS

Fridays 4 & 11 10pm – 1am

Hotel du Vin

Festival Club

When the Festival Village winds down, the Festival Club fires up. Join us after hours at the Hotel du Vin for music, conversation and late night literary revelry.

Monday 7 – Friday 11 11am – 12pm

The Huddle

The Times Crossword

Settle in as The Times Crossword Editor Richard Rogan takes you through the mysteries of the day’s crossword puzzles with a helping hand or a tantalising hint where needed.

Monday 7 - Friday 11 11.30am–

12pm & 2.30-3pm

The Huddle

A Very Short Introduction To…

Big topics, short talks. Join experts for concise and accessible intros to mind-expanding subjects.

Monday 7 –

Friday 11

4.30 – 5pm

The Huddle

Cheltenham Writes!

To celebrate the incredible talent of our local authors we’ve invited five of them to read from their books and talk about their experiences as writers.

Friday 12 10pm – 1am

Hotel du Vin

Festival Club

When the Festival Village winds down, the Festival Club fires up. Join us after hours at the Hotel du Vin for music and late night revelry.

SATURDAY 5 OCTOBER

Daily from 10am

Montpellier Gardens

Free Newspaper

Pick up your FREE copy of The Times

10am – 10.30am

The Huddle

Family Draw- Along

A family-friendly fun-filled draw along for all ages with a Festival illustrator. Paper and pencils will be provided.

10am – 4pm

The Den

Drop in activities

Join in with free craft activities, make a book cover to add to the library, create book creatures or join the Mad Hatter’s table to fashion a fabulous Festival hat.

10am - 4pm

Woodland Trust Wild Wood

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Go on an imaginative adventure with actor Sophia Lanciano through grass, forests, water, mud and even snow to meet a big friendly bear.

Circus Skills

Have a go at juggling, spinning plates, diablos and more.

Storytelling: Pirate Pandemonium

Welcome aboard the storytelling ship. Can you help the Louby Lou crew and prove yourself to be a true pirate?

Character Meet and Greet

Meet favourite book characters Kipper, Maisy Mouse, Elmer and more

4.30 - 5pm

Bedtime Story Sessions

John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent

Snuggle up for a cosy bedtime story with a special Festival guest.

10pm – 1am

Hotel du Vin

Festival Club

When the Festival Village winds down, the Festival Club fires up. Join us after hours at the Hotel du Vin for music and late night revelry.

LIT CRAWL 2019

Lit Crawl takes over the streets of Cheltenham for one night for a fast-paced evening of pop- up events and quirky literary happenings. All events are free, unticketed and open to all There is no age restriction on Lit Crawl but some sessions may contain adult content

5 - 6pm

The Wilson Mezzanine GL50 3JT

Shakespeare 101

Roll up to receive a highly comic lesson on Shakespeare, from unconventional educators Shirley Halse and Hosanna Starkey. A show for anyone who loves, hates or simply does not understand the bard.

5 - 6pm

The Sober Parrot GL50 3PR

UNHEARD

2019: Voices From P3

The Everyman Theatre and Cheltenham Poetry Festival present a showcase of writing by people from P3 Charity about the events that have shaped their lives.

5 – 6pm

The Stable GL50 3NX

Burning Eye Books Showcase

Three outstanding poets read from their 2019 collections – Steve Larkin (Your Own Steve Larkin Poetry Adventure), Lydia Towsey (The English Disease) and Leilah Jane King (Midnight Picnics in Tehran).

5 – 6pm

Cheltenham Library GL50 3JT

Space Aliens Ate My Story!

Spoken word cabaret mixing comedy and fairy tales for grown-ups. A convention-smashing set of fantastic unscripted stories in this Midnight Storytellers' 20th anniversary touring show.

5pm - 6pm

The Old Courthouse GL50 1ND

The Runaways Improv Comedy

The Runaways Improv perform improvised comedy, any time, anywhere! Join them as they create a book- based show based on suggestions from you, the audience. Expect the unexpected…

drop in from 5pm until 10pm

The Wilson GL50 3JT

WAC

Takeover: Tatty Devine

WAC (Wilson Arts Collective) take over The Wilson’s Tatty Devine exhibition for the night featuring interactive workshops, performances and cocktails inspired by the songs and lyrics of Belle & Sebastian.

rolling performances from 5pm- 8pm

TBC

The Company Of Wolves

It’s 40 years since Angela Carter’s short story collection The Bloody Chamber was published and awarded the Cheltenham Literature Festival Novel Prize. Join Moth Sanctuary Productions for a deliciously dark reading of its most famous story: The Company of Wolves.

Waterstones Takeover: From 6-9pm catch bestselling novelists in conversation, performances of Instagram star-poets, literary tarot sessions, poetry on demand from The Versability Shop as Waterstones launch their new café and event space in style.

6.30pm - 7.30pm

Waterstones

Anna Hope

Anna Hope discusses Expectation - a searching look at friendship, feminism and thwarted ambition – and one of the biggest hit reads of the summer.

7.30pm – 9pm

Waterstones

Litwitchure

Literary tarot cabaret & consultancy by Fiona Lensvelt and Jennifer Cownie: readers of books and dabblers in the occult. Stop by for a five-minute tarot reading, perfect for those new to the genre.

8pm - 9pm

Waterstones

Nikita Gill: Great Goddesses

Cheltenham debut for the UK’s most followed poet with over half a million Instagram followers and a host of celebrity fans. Performing from Great Goddesses: blending stories from Greek mythology with modern feminist magic to create empowering life lessons from myths and monsters. Supported by a poetry set from Hammer and Tongue’s Georgia Stride

6.30pm - 7.30pm

Badlands GL50 3LA

Rolling Stones: 1969

In one momentous year The Rolling Stones released a stone cold classic, lost one of their founding members, played an era-defining concert and saw a fan stabbed to death. Music journalist Patrick Humphries tells the story of this key year in the history of the band.

6.30pm – 8pm

The Tavern

Pitch And A Pint!

18+ only

Aspiring writers will have five minutes to present their work to a Chicken House editor over a free drink. Sign up in advance at cheltenhamfestivals.com/pitch for one of 24 slots.

6.30 - 8.30pm

Travelbag

Taste The World

Drop by Travelbag for a free wine tasting and pop-up talks from the South Australia Tourist Board to help you plan your next adventure.

6.30pm - 7.30pm

Scandinavian Coffee Pod GL50 3QD

Saili Katebe

Often writing under the pen name ‘The Blissful Nomad’, Saili Katebe is a Chippenham-based poet, writer and spoken word artist who is making waves in the Bath and Bristol Poetry scene. Don’t miss this scratch performance of his upcoming solo show.

7.30- 8.30pm

Memsahib Gin and Tea Bar

Mrs Peel

Lively arrangements of Latin and jazz standards, alongside Motown and Soul music – songs which encapsulate where poetry meets music. An intimate session of music and poetry over gin and tea.

7.30 – 9pm

Boston Tea Party

GL50 3JS

Alternative Book Club Pub Quiz

Absolutely no required reading. This pub quiz version of Alternative Book Club has rounds including ‘Name the classic from this ridiculous plot description’ and ‘Book titles in emoji’. Come alone or bring a team.

6.30pm – 9pm

The Sober Parrot

Lives of Colour

Lives of Colour celebrate difference by giving a platform for people from all ethnicities and social economic backgrounds to share their story. Join them for a vibrant showcase of music and spoken

7.30pm-10.30pm

Smokey Joes GL50 4ED

Happy Birthday Cheltenham Literature Festival!

Celebrating the Literature Festival’s 70th year Cheltenham Poetry Festival presents a night of music and spoken word from Abdul-Ahad Patel, ‘The Bob Dylan of Rap’ Scott James, Slam Champ Lexi Legend, Ziggy Dicks, Josephine Lay and John Porter, plus open mic.

9 – 10.30pmpm

Bottle of Sauce GL50 3LH

Raise The Bar

A foot-stompingly energetic finale of poetry and spoken word to round off the Crawl and set the floor for our riotous after-party.

10.30pm - 2am

Bottle of Sauce GL50 3LH

After Party @ Bottle of Sauce

Acapella beatbox, hip-hop group 5 Mics present an electrifying, adrenaline-fuelled fusion of soul, hip- hop, UKG, dancehall and more with potent rap and soulful melodies.

Selextorhood DJs beats from the Birmingham- based womxn and non-binary collective to keep you going late into the night.

SUNDAY 6 OCTOBER

Daily from 10am

Montpellier Gardens

Free Newspaper

Pick up your FREE copy of The Sunday Times

10am – 10.30am

The Huddle

Family Draw- Along

A family-friendly fun-filled draw along for all ages with a Festival illustrator. Paper and pencils will be provided.

10am – 4pm

The Den

Drop in activities

Join in with free craft activities, make a book cover to add to the library, create book creatures or join the Mad Hatter’s table to fashion a fabulous Festival hat.

10am - 4pm

Woodland Trust Wild Wood

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Go on an imaginative adventure with actor Sophia Lanciano through grass, forests, water, mud and even snow to meet a big friendly bear.

Circus Skills

Have a go at juggling, spinning plates, diablos and more.

Storytelling: Posting A Story

Explore a magical posting world with storyteller Lucy Walters where the letters from storybook characters are sorted and sent.

Character Meet and Greet

Meet favourite book characters Kipper, Maisy Mouse, Elmer and more

4.30-5pm

Bedtime Story Sessions

John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent

Snuggle up for a cosy bedtime story with a special Festival guest.

SATURDAY 12 OCTOBER

Daily from 10am

Montpellier Gardens

Free Newspaper

Pick up your FREE copy of The Times

10am – 10.30am

The Huddle

Family Draw- Along

A family-friendly fun-filled draw along for all ages with a Festival illustrator. Paper and pencils will be provided.

10am – 4pm

The Den

Drop in activities

Join in with free craft activities, make a book cover to add to the library, create book creatures or join the Mad Hatter’s table to fashion a fabulous Festival hat.

10am - 4pm

Woodland Trust Wild Wood

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Go on an imaginative adventure with actor Sophia Lanciano through grass, forests, water, mud and even snow to meet a big friendly bear.

Circus Skills

Have a go at juggling, spinning plates, diabolos and more.

Storytelling: Mysterious Stories

Experience the ancient and mysterious tale of a magical hill just north of Birmingham and a wizard who can never die with storyteller Vanessa Woolf.

Character Meet and Greet

Meet favourite book characters Kipper, Maisy Mouse, Elmer and more

11am – 12pm

Hesters Way Library

One-Stop Story Shop

Pop along to The One-Stop Story Shop with award- winning author Tracey Corderoy for stories, songs, crafts and fun.

10pm – 1am

Hotel du Vin

Festival Club

When the Festival Village winds down, the Festival Club fires up. Join us after hours at the Hotel du Vin for music and late night revelry.

4.30 - 5pm

Bedtime Story Sessions

John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent

Snuggle up for a cosy bedtime story with a special Festival guest.

SUNDAY 13 OCTOBER

Daily from 10am

Montpellier Gardens

Free Newspaper

Pick up your FREE copy of The Sunday Times

10am – 10.30am

The Huddle

Family Draw- Along

A family-friendly fun-filled draw along for all ages with a Festival illustrator. Paper and pencils will be provided.

10am – 4pm

The Den

Drop in activities

Join in with free craft activities, make a book cover to add to the library, create book creatures or join the Mad Hatter’s table to fashion a fabulous Festival hat.

10am - 4pm

Woodland Trust Wild Wood

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

Go on an imaginative adventure with actor Sophia Lanciano through grass, forests, water, mud and even snow to meet a big friendly bear.

Circus Skills

Have a go at juggling, spinning plates, diablos and more.

Storytelling: Doggy Doodles

Doggy drawing sessions with author and illustrator Shoo Raynor.

Character Meet and Greet

Meet favourite book characters Kipper, Maisy Mouse, Elmer and more

4.30-5pm

Bedtime Story Sessions

John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent

Snuggle up for a cosy bedtime story with a special Festival guest.

About The Times & The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

The world’s first literature festival celebrates its 70th birthday in 2019. It still leads the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers, while inspiring over 9,000 school children with a love of books through its Literature for Schools programme. All set in a beautiful Regency town with free pop-up events galore and festivities continuing late into the night.

Cheltenham Literature Festival is part of the Cheltenham Festivals charity. It delivers a pioneering year-round educational programme including its flagship Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils outreach project which is being rolled out nationally this year, enabling teachers and their pupils to rediscover the joy of reading. The award-winning Beyond Words is a creative writing project working with vulnerable young people unable to access mainstream education in Gloucestershire.

Cheltenham Festivals supports Amnesty International in the development of Words That Burn, a national human rights poetry project, and develops new talent with programmes such as Write Now, a unique mentoring, workshop and networking project that nurtures young people’s creative writing abilities.

Click here to view all the Lit Fest listings on Cheltenham Rocks