Family Events at Cheltenham Literature Festival

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The Cheltenham Literature Festival returns for 2019, ready to kick off autumn as we kick through the fallen leaves on pursuit for this year’s new reads! The festival is celebrating its 70th birthday this year (it sure looks good for it!), and as the first ever and longest running literature festival in the world, it's only right for all creatures great and small to gather together (under many a marquee) to celebrate the written word and our incredible heritage.

Along with the usual fab free events around town and the new numerous '7 at 70' celebrations, there appears to be even more child-friendly, inclusive events with little ones to tweenagers in mind. We've rounded up every child-friendly event and activity going on at Cheltenham Literature Festival this year below. Booking is now open for members (who receive a bonus 10% off), with events open to the public to book from Wednesday 4th September. Most events come at a small fee, although we've included every free and open family-friendly activity too (take a very long scroll to the bottom for those)!

Calendars at the ready (we've listed over 70 events in age order)!

Age 2+

Friday 4th October: Baby Goes To Market. Join storyteller Atinuke, author of Baby Goes to Market, B is for Baby and the Anna Hibiscus picture books for this family-friendly session. Find out what happens when mama and baby go to market! £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Baby Goes To Market


Tuesday 8th October: Maisy Mouse And Little Fish. Join professional storyteller Liz Fost to hear all about Maisy and another Lucy Cousins favourite, Little Fish - you’ll even meet Maisy Mouse! Event includes a Maisy costume character appearance. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Maisy Mouse And Little Fish


Thursday 10th October: We Love You, Mr Panda. Join author and illustrator Steve Antony for a morning of friends, fun and stories, perfect for toddlers and their families. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Friday 11th October: That's Not My Puppy. Celebrate the 20th birthday of That’s not my… with this sensory adventure. Hunt for Puppy’s magical rainbow birthday party and meet lots of friends along the way! Expect bubbles, snow, songs and fun! £6 plus booking. Find out more (for the first performance) Find out more (for the second performance).


Ages 3+

Saturday 5th October: Happy Birthday Kipper! Everyone’s favourite little dog is turning 30! Join storyteller Liz Fost for stories, songs, games and much more, based on Mick Inkpen’s much loved Kipper stories on Saturday - not once but twice! These events include a character costume appearance - bonus! £6 plus booking. Find out more (for the first performance). Find out more (for the second performance).


Sunday 6th October: Bear Moves! Show off your best dance moves and coolest rhymes with Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyüz, a fab energetic event for little ones! £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Bear Moves!


Wednesday 9th October: Cat And Mouse. Join Author and illustrator Lucy Freegard as she presents her new book, The Big Stink. With storytelling, live drawing and mouse mask-making, this is a hands on event for little ones and their grown-ups - can you sniff out the notorious cheese thief?! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 4+

Saturday 5th October: Oi Puppies! Join the multi-award-winning duo Kes Gray and Jim Field for this hilarious interactive event full of storytelling fun, live drawing, hilarious mishaps and, of course, lots of very silly rhymes. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Oi Puppies!


Saturday 5th October: My Little Pony. Join Rosie Tells Tales for an adventure in the land of Equestria. Step into the Golden Oak Library for a colourful celebration with in an interactive event for every pony (and discover your own pony name)! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: Sophie Johnson: Detective Genius. Calling all supersleuths! Get ready to round up those suspects and crack the case with author and illustrator Morag Hood and Sophie Johnson! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar’s 50th birthday! Join in with this fun, interactive session with storytellers from Discover Children’s Story Centre followed by caterpillar craft. £6 plus booking. Find out more. This event is now sold out.


Saturday 12th October: From Tiny Tadpoles To Storm Whales. Tad is the smallest tadpole in a big pond where she lives, but who or what is ‘big blub’?! This interactive event with author-illustrator Benji Davies is the perfect session for young readers who are busy growing up, just like Tad. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

From Tiny Tadpoles To Storm Whales


Saturday 12th October: Show And Tell. Come and be schooled in magic and wonder by award-winning author and illustrator Rob Biddulph. Packed to the brim with warm humour, life lessons and pitch-perfect rhyme, budding writers and artists can join in to draw one of his new characters. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 13th October: The Rainbow Fish Show. An enchanting tale about sharing and friendship. Join Riverside Performing Arts’ for this interactive performance, with song, percussion and storytelling, surrounded by an innovative set built using recycled plastic! £7 plus booking. Find out more.

The Rainbow Fish Show


Sunday 13th October: Happy Birthday Elmer! Everyone’s favourite patchwork elephant Elmer teaches us that it’s A-OK to be different. Join storyteller Vanessa Wolfe for an extra special birthday performance based on David McKee’s book, including songs and a very exciting appearance of Elmer himself (there will be a character costume appearance in this event - yay)! £6 plus booking. Find out more (first performance). Find out more (second performance).


Sunday 13th October: Giraffes Can't Dance. Trip into the jungle with author Giles Andreae and illustrator Guy Parker-Rees for a morning of drawing, creativity and, of course, DANCING! Everyone knows that giraffes can’t dance… or can they? £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Giraffes Can’t Dance


Sunday 13th October: So Much Love! Writer and presenter Trish Cooke and illustrator Helen Oxenbury are reunited in this exclusive event, celebrating 25 years of their award-winning picture book. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 13th October: Nell Gifford’s Circus of Dreams. Meet owner and producer of Gifford’s Circus Nell Gifford as she presents Nell and the Circus of Dreams. Joined by legend and star of the circus Tweedy the clown, Nell tells tales from behind the scenes and gives away insider secrets! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 5+

Saturday 5th October: Jonny Duddle’s Pirate Adventure. Set sail with author and illustrator Jonny Duddle and the Jolley-Rogers, everyone’s favourite pirate family! With readings, live drawings and optional pirate dress-up! Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: Tim Hopgood’s Words And Pictures. Learn techniques from acclaimed author and illustrator Tim Hopgood (Cyril the Lonely Cloud, Wow! Said the Owl) as he celebrates the life and colour that water brings. With live illustrating, draw along and listen to stories inspired by the world around us. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Tim Hopgood’s Words And Pictures


Ages 6+

Saturday 5th October: Horrid Henry: Number One For Fiendish Fun! Celebrate 25 years of hilariously horrid fun with international bestselling children’s author Francesca Simon. Horrid Henry’s totally brilliant adventures offer an irresistible introduction to reading for pleasure! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: Kai And The Monkey King. Join comic artist Joe Todd-Stanton to discover the story behind his fabulous comic book creations. From the Vikings, to ancient Egypt and China, where will the Brownstone family go next? £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Kai And The Monkey King


Sunday 6th October: Magical Creatures' Hotel. Award-winning duo, author Steven Butler and illustrator Steven Lenton, welcome you to find out more about this fabulously funny series while teaching you how to draw! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 13th October: Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective. Meet author Laura James and illustrator Emily Fox as they introduce you to Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective. Draw along with Emily and find out how to create your very own mystery! £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective


Ages 7+

Friday 4th October: Lesser Spotted Animals. Have your little ones got a thirst for nature knowledge? Join author and illustrator Martin Brown to discover some wondrous, rare wildlife, with fact-based, live illustration. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 5th October: Opera ABC. Discover opera with singer and author Mark Llewelyn Evans, soprano Victoria Joyce and pianist Meryn Williams. Travel back in time to Florence to meet Professor Peri, the inventor of opera, alongside Perfect Purcell, Too Hot to Handel and a host of other barmy composers! Storytelling, facts and live music - what an exciting introduction to the music genre! £7 plus booking. Find out more.

Opera ABC


Saturday 5th October: Africa, Amazing Africa. Did you know the first humans to walk the earth were African? Fact: Africa had the first university in the world and the continent is as big as Europe, the USA, Mexico, India and Japan put together! Wow! Join spectacular storyteller Atinuke for a captivating event full of facts and stories about the continent! £6 plus booking. Find out more (for first performance). Find out more for second performance).


Saturday 5th October: You Wouldn’t Want To Be An Egyptian Mummy! Enter the afterlife of the ancient Egyptians at the world premiere of Mr Dilly’s new production! Expect laughs a’plenty, along with foul fun, fascinating facts and exciting entertainment for the whole family! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 5th, Sunday 6th, Saturday 12th & Sunday 13th October: From Seed To Read! How A Book Is Made. A fun fact-filled participative show with author Paul Harrison, taking you through the book-making process with the aid of helpful hats! £3 plus booking. Find out more.

From Seed To Read! How A Book Is Made


Sunday 6th October: Royal Rabbits Of London. Burrow deep into the inspiration behind this beloved series with Sunday Times bestselling author Santa Montefiore and award-winning illustrator Kate Hindley. See how Kate comes up with her illustrations and draw along to create a brand new character. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: The Greatest Comic-Making Show On Earth. Robin Etherington reveals the secrets to awesome storytelling through examples and exercises in this hilarious, high-energy show. Guaranteed to inspire the young and old! £6 plus booking. Find out more.

The Greatest Comic-Making Show On Earth


Monday 7th October: Detectiving With Mark And Shark. Meet detective duo Mark (a boy) and Shark (a shark) who have been recruited by an enormous polar bear to save her ice cream business! Stories, songs and silliness ensues as John Dougherty introduces his new mystery series. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Detectiving With Mark And Shark


Saturday 12th October: Konnie Huq. Author, broadcaster and beloved former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq brings us her brand new, hilarious book series, Cookie! Find out more in this non-stop comedy event packed with draw-alongs and games galore. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: Dermot O’Leary And Nick East. Join one of the UK’s best-loved broadcasters to hear all about Toto the Ninja Cat and the Superstar Catastrophe, the third book in Dermot’s animal escapade series for animal-lovers, based on the true story of a rescued kitten. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Dermot O’Leary And Nick East


Sunday 13th October: Tongue Fu For Kids. This leading spoken word show created for children and their grown-ups is jam-packed with word play, improv, participation and musical fun, from poet and musician Chris Redmond (CBBC) and the Tongue Fu band. £8 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 13th October: Roald Dahl’s Rotsome Words. Join word wizards Sara-Jane Arbury and Katie Balsom for oodles of foulsome fun, with wacky word games, mouth manglers, explosive expletives, shouting matches and whizzpopping poppyrot! £6 plus booking. Find out more.

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Ages 7 and the whole family

Sunday 6th October: I Believe In Unicorns. Join award-winning storyteller Danyah Miller as she brings children’s author Michael Morpurgo’s treasured story to life. An enchanting production to spark the imagination of both young and old. £12 plus booking fee. Find out more.


Ages 8+

Saturday 5th October: Cressida Cowell And Friends. Take a sneaky peak in between the covers of an author’s notebook, with Waterstones Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell! Bring along your sketchbook to share too! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: Bet I Can Make You Laugh. Words are brought to life by dynamic performance poet, Joshua Seigal in this entertaining children’s show, with rhyme, rhythm, rap and randomness! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: The Magical World Of Harry Potter. Join Fleurble Laffalot for a family friendly journey through J.K. Rowling’s much-loved books, while discovering fun facts about the series and exploring Harry’s magical world! £6 plus booking. Find out more.

The Magical World Of Harry Potter


Thursday 10th October: The Lost Book Of Adventure. See author and illustrator Teddy Keen bring his books to life; unveiling secrets with artefacts and spine-tingling stories. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Friday 11th October: Ponies And Pirouettes. Join authors Tracey Corderoy (The Mystery at Stormy Point) and Helen Lipscombe (Peril en Pointe) as they share the ideas behind their new books, top writing tips and favourite mystery stories with Loraine Evans. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: The Boy At The Back Of The Class. Told with heart, humour and hope, a touching story about friendship and how naturally children celebrate our differences. Join the author as she speaks about the books that inspired her as a child and her work in refugee camps. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

The Boy At The Back Of The Class


Sunday 13th October: Charlie Changes Into A Chicken. In this hilarious series Charlie changes into animals whenever he is stressed or upset, which he’s far from happy about! Author Sam Copeland reveals the ideas behind his series and how Charlie deals with his crazy new animal morphing power! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 8+ and the whole family

Sunday 13th October: Big Family Book Quiz. Join Pages & Co author Anna James, actor Adam Collier and a surprise guest for the first ever Big Family Book Quiz! Come and test your book knowledge and (fingers crossed) win some prizes in this interactive event for the whole family. £20 per table of four, plus booking. Find out more.

Big Family Book Quiz


Ages 9+

Sunday 6th October: Helen Skelton: Wild Girl. TV presenter and world-record breaker Helen Skelton talks with Anna McNuff about her amazing worldwide adventures, from kayaking the length of the Amazon to cycling the South Pole! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: Chris Riddell: Guardians Of Magic. Creator of the Goth Girl and Ottoline series introduces his new book in this live captioned event. In a stunning, fantastical world, the future of magic is under threat from powerful enemies, what can three ordinary children do to protect it? £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 6th October: The History Girls. Join time-travelling authors Emma Carroll, Hilary McKay and Lucy Strange as they talk with author and historian Janina Ramirez about their journeys to the past, told through the eyes of their courageous female characters. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

The History Girls


Tuesday 8th October: The House With Chicken Legs. Explore her mystical universe complete with a girl who turns into a bear and a talking wolf! Find out how to recreate folk stories, take part in interactive storytelling and make up your own fairytale! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Wednesday 9th October: When Two Worlds Meet. Be transported to the heart of a remote Filipino tribe in Candy Gourlay’s latest novel Bone Talk, and find out about Candy’s travels to the book’s remote mountain setting. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: Danny Wallace And Jamie Littler. Meet the rumbustious author and his budding side-kick as they discuss the adventures of Hamish – a ten-year-old from a boring, ordinary town with a knack for saving the world! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: Mysterious Places. Join fiendish fiction writers, Polly Ho-Yen, Dave Shelton, Dominique Valente and chair Katherine Woodfine to discuss plots, twists, suspense, intrigue and their favourite mystery books! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 13th October: Burrow Into The Five Realms. Hop into a fantasy adventure with Blue Peter Book Award-winning author Kieran Larwood (The Legend of Podkin One Ear). Hear about the inspiration behind his fearsome warrior rabbits and the brand new adventure Uki and the Outcasts. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Sunday 13th October: Abi Elphinstone: The Unmapped Chronicles. Bestselling author Abi Elphinstone will be talking about the real-life adventures behind her stories, including her latest book Rumblestar, a sky adventure complete with cloud giants, magical hot air balloons and wizards! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 10+

Saturday 12th October: Connie Glynn: The Lost Princess. Join YouTube sensation Connie Glynn for a Q&A session, as she welcomes guests to a new term at Rosewood Hall, in an all-new mystery adventure! £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 11+

Sunday 13th October: Harry Potter: Picture The Magic With Jim Kay. With paint, pencil and pixels, illustrator Jim Kay conjures the wizarding world, bringing breathtaking scenes and unforgettable characters to life, while speaking with author and huge Harry Potter fan Anna James about the process. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Harry Potter: Picture The Magic With Jim Kay


Ages 12+

Sunday 6th October: Deep Dark Fantasy. Plunge deep into the minds of phenomenal fantasy writers Rachel Burge, Frances Hardinge and Steve Feasey as they discuss the myths and legends that inspired to write. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 12+, teens and young adults

Saturday 5th October: Raise Your Voice. Join Poet and activist Matt Abbott and spoken word artist Rachel Nwokoro as they showcase their powerful poems of identity, rebellion, friendship, love and technology. £6 plus booking. Find out more.


Saturday 12th October: Malorie Blackman: Noughts And Crosses. A favourite of Stormzy, join author Malorie Blackman in conversation with author Candice Carty-Williams (Queenie), as Malorie reflects on her journey to becoming a published author and successful television writer. £6 plus booking. Find out more.

Malorie Blackman: Noughts And Crosses


Child-Friendly Workshops

Ages 5 - 7

Saturday 12th October: Create-A-Story Animation. Discover the fun of using stop motion animation to tell your own stories, while making characters from plasticine to tell a story on screen for your very own short film! £15 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 6 - 10

Saturday 5th October: Make Your Own Picture Book With Emily Haworth-Booth. A fun, interactive workshop for creative minds, inspired by Emily Haworth-Booth’s The King Who Banned the Dark. Make your very own story book ready to write in; plan your own stories and learn tips and tricks to create your artwork at home. £10 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 7 - 12

Sunday 6th October: Comic Character Creations. Join comic book creator Robin Etherington in this hands-on comic drawing workshop, creating monsters, misfits, monkeys and more! £10 plus booking. Find out more.

Comic Character Creations


Ages 8 - 10

Saturday 12th October: Fairytale Animation. Take inspiration from your favourite fairy tales and make a film full of princesses, mermaids, unicorns and dragons! Create characters and scenery using card and plasticine for screen, the end result will be a short film to download. £15 plus booking. Find out more.

Fairytale Animation


Ages 8 - 11

Sunday 13th October: Zine Making. Discover the exciting world of zines with Kristyna Baczynski. In this workshop, Kristyna guides you through drawing, doodling and collage, using tips from her book Read All About It! Then assemble your very own unique zine and take it away! £10 plus booking. Find out more.

Make Your Own Picture Book


Ages 9 - 12

Sunday 6th October: Writing Adventures With Emma Carroll. Create heroes and villains, plan journeys, draw maps and plot epic, magical stories all of your own in this writing-how to session. £10 plus booking. Find out more.


Age 10+

Sunday 13th October: Writing Mysteries With Polly Ho-Yen. Create a mystery with author of Boy in the Tower, Where Monsters Lie and Fly Me Home. Doodle ideas, create characters and write the beginning of your very own story. £10 plus booking. Find out more.


Ages 10 - 12

Saturday 12th October: Detective Movie-Making. With the help of our experts and the magic of stop motion animation, guests will be part of the team to create a detective mystery on screen, with your very own short film to download after the workshop. £15 plus booking. Find out more.

Detective Movie-Making


Free Events

Ages 4 - 7

Saturday 5th October, Sunday 6th October, Saturday 12th October & Sunday 13th October: Bedtime Story. Snuggle up for a cosy bedtime story with a special festival guest at the John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent (names announced on the day). All children under 12 years must be accompanied by a ticket holding adult. Find out more.

Bedtime Story


Free Drop-In Fun For The Whole Family

4th - 13th October, 10am – 4pm: Secret Seven Mystery Trail. Take part in the Secret Seven Mystery Trail to celebrate 70 years of the world’s favourite detective club! Simply pick up a quiz sheet from the John Lewis & Partners Trail Tent and follow the trail through The Woodland Trust Wild Wood! Find out more.


5th - 6th & 12th - 13th October, 10am – 4pm: The Den. Join in with free craft activities for ages 4–12 and their families. Become part of the living library, create antiquarian book creatures or join the Mad Hatter’s table to fashion a fabulous Festival hat! Find out more.


5th - 6th & 12th - 13th October, 10am – 4pm: The Woodland Trust Wild Wood. Meet your favourite book characters, enjoy storytelling and visit the Woodland Trust hut for games, activities and more. Find out more.


4th - 13th October, 10am – 4pm: The Chatterbox. Drop into the Chatterbox and become a secret agent, decoding mysterious messages. Create your own detective mask and then head out on a secret kindness mission! Find out more.


Don’t Miss

The Sky Arts Studio! As the new official broadcast partner, Sky Arts will be broadcasting the festival throughout the week, with live coverage and special interviews! Pop in to take part in filming and various creative activities.


..Around Town

4th - 13th October, 11am – 3pm: Elmer And Friends Trail. Celebrate 30 years of Elmer! Ten primary schools from across the county have created their own friends for the much-loved patchwork elephant, pick up a quiz sheet to follow the trail around town and find their artwork in participating shops, cafés and libraries. Find out more.


That’s all folks! For more Cheltenham Literature Festival news and events visit the website here.