See an unbeatable lineup at the UK's oldest literary festival
From 5-14 October, Regency Cheltenham’s beautiful Montpellier Gardens will welcome tens of thousands of book-lovers to the Festival Village, setting the scene for once-in-a-lifetime conversations to take place over ten days of bookish revelry at the UK’s oldest literary festival.
The spectacular programme with almost 1000 speakers offers something for everyone: from literary legends and dynamic debuts to celebrated chefs, renowned historians and sporting icons, as well as the most incisive commentators, world-class comedians and the glittering stars of stage and screen. For the perfect family day out, the greatest storytellers and illustrators in the land will inspire and entertain toddlers to teens, through events, free activities, workshops and story trails. And as part of the Festival’s Literature for Schools programme over 9,000 school children and their teachers will meet their favourite authors and learn from internationally acclaimed writers.
Surrounding the cosy Bookstand in the Festival Village, bibliophiles can soak up the atmosphere under the picnic canopy, take their pick of global street food on offer and enjoy free pop-up events galore. And, as the sun goes down, the festivities continue with the eclectic Off The Page series of comedy, music, spoken word, quizzes and podcasts, including the Festival Club at Hotel du Vin and the return of the irreverent Lit Crawl taking over the streets of Cheltenham.
Booking opens online to Cheltenham Festivals Members at 1pm on Wednesday 29 August and general booking at 1pm on Wednesday 5 September.
FESTIVAL THEME – EAST MEETS WEST
A host of international writers and experts will join a unique programme inspired by the culture and history of the Far East. In fiction, we celebrate the work of the outstanding cult Japanese author Haruki Murakami with a first look at the highly anticipated Killing Commendatore with friends and fans including David Mitchell. We explore the East Asian canon more widely with authors such as Masatsugu Ono, Madeleine Thien, Sayaka Murata, Min Jin Lee, Xiaolu Guo, and Fujimoto Prize-winner Genki Kawamura(If Cats Disappeared from the World), plus renowned poet Paul Conneally demonstrates the beauty and brevity of the Haiku.
In Travel and Lifestyle, Ian Buruma and Asa Yoneda transport the audience to the metropolis of intoxicating capital Tokyo, spirits expert Dave Broom (The Way of Whisky) takes a tasting tour of Japan, and we enjoy the powerhouse of Japanese animation and Studio Ghibli with Mark Kermode. In our History collection, Guest Curator Peter Frankopan will introduce The New Silk Road and Edward Burman gives an intriguing account of the legendary Terracotta Army. In Art and Design we join Guest Curator and V&A Director Tristram Hunt to marvel at the fabulous treasures in the East Asian Galleries, and in Current Affairs, we interrogate the possibility of peace on the Korean peninsula with Jieun Baek (North Korea’s Hidden Revolution) and Robin Niblett, plus Rania Abouzeid (No Turning Back) and Channel 4’s International Editor Lindsey Hilsum (In Extremis) examine the dynamics of war in Syriawith BBC Chief International Correspondent Lyse Doucet.
Fiction-lovers are spoilt for choice with the biggest names in the business, including Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, alongside the extraordinary new voices igniting imaginations. Discussing their hotly anticipated autumn releases are Pat Barker (The Silence of the Girls), Sarah Perry (Melmouth), Kate Atkinson (Transcription), Guest Curator Sebastian Faulks (Paris Echo), plus the remarkableSally Rooney on her second novel (Normal People). There will be further new reads from William Boyd, Lionel Shriver, Kate Mosse, Kit de Waal, Emma Healey, Elif Shafak, Caitlin Moran as well as the Man Booker nominated Esi Edugyan and last year’s Guest Curator Sarah Moss (Ghost Wall).
Dynamic debut talent on the line-up includes Gail Honeyman, Imogen Hermes Gower, Sharlene Teo, Nikesh Shukla plus broadcaster Simon Mayo with his debut adult novel Mad Blood Stirring. We hear from Jojo Moyes and Liane Moriaty on seeing their work transform from page to screen, raise a glass with Joanna Trollope to her latest novel An Unsuitable Match and, for crime aficionados, Anthony Horowitz will introduce his new James Bond outing (Forever and a Day).
In Muriel Spark’s centenary year, we look beyond The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie with Rebus author Ian Rankin and Spark’s friend and biographer, Alan Taylor; 80 years of Rebecca, Du Maurier’s gothic tale of love, secrets and jealousy, will be marked by Sarah Dunant, Sarah Perry and thriller writer Sabine Durrant; and on the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley biographers Fiona Sampson and Miranda Seymour celebrate a woman whose dark and brilliant imagination created this vivid monster. Sophie Hannah explores the enduring appeal of the Queen of Crime, Agatha Christie, Sebastian Faulks is joined by Philip Hensher and Dolly Alderton for a literary tussle over Darcy and Heathcliff, and New Zealand authors Kirsty Gunn and Sarah Laing discuss the literary legacy of Katherine Mansfield.
STAGE & SCREEN
The incomparable David Attenborough will discuss his completely new edition of Life on Earth, and is joined on the bill by stage and screen legends Roger Daltrey, Eric Idle, Sally Field, Gary Barlow, Michael Parkinson, Jennifer Saunders and comedians Lenny Henry, Marcus Brigstocke, Romesh Ranganathan, Jo Brand, Susan Calman and Richard Herring. Former ballerina and BBC Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell will spill the beans on her life, career and new book (Darcey Bussell: Evolved); writer, director and founder of Comic Relief, Richard Curtis, is in conversation with his daughter and Guest Curator Scarlett Curtis; David Sproxtonand Peter Lord look back on the remarkable rise of the Aardman Studios, and Gavin and Stacey star Ruth Jones will reflect on turning her hand to novel writing with Never Greener.
World famous conductor Jane Glover draws on her profound understanding of Handel’s music to tell the extraordinary story ofHandel in London. Further stars of the stage include Nicholas Hytner on 12 years at the helm of the National Theatre; acclaimed RSC actor Antony Sher reveals the challenges on playing King Lear (Year of the Mad King); and the Olivier award-winning Giles Terera tells all about one of musical theatre’s biggest successes of our time, Hamilton.
POETRY, SPOKEN WORD & OFF THE PAGE
Superstar of the spoken word scene Hollie McNish returns for a rare UK appearance joined by the phenomenal debut talent Hera Lindsay Bird; while Salena Godden and Peter Coyte combine poetry, fiction and music through the life affirming diaries of ‘Mrs Death’. One of Britain’s most beloved poets, Wendy Cope, presents her new collection (Anecdotal Evidence), the charming Pam Ayres reads from her latest book The Last Hedgehog, and poet, critic and close friend of Phillip Larkin, Anthony Thwaite, contemplates a remarkable poetic legacy in Larkin’s Letters.
After dark, Festival goers can enjoy boisterous evenings from Pundemonium!, Bang Said The Gun, Tongue Fu and an Outspoken Showcase featuring the astonishingly talented Anthony Anaxagorou, Harry Giles and Ollie O’Neal. Award-winning comedian Marcus Brigstocke returns with his new stand-up show Devil May Care, with further laughs from Fringe favourites Rob Auton, Tessa Coates and a special live edition of The Guilty Feminist podcast with Deborah Frances-White.
HISTORY, HISTORICAL FICTION & ANCIENT WORLD
Master storyteller Bernard Cornwell will entertain the Cheltenham crowd with the latest instalment in his much-loved The Last Kingdom series, now a major TV drama, whilst historical heavyweights Antony Beevor (Arnham) and Max Hastings (Vietnam) look into the very heart of war. Guest Curator Peter Frankopan takes the audience on a tour of the New Silk Road, Sebastian Faulkstraces the music and words of the Great War, and novelist Sarah Dunant unpicks the truth behind history’s most notorious family, The Borgias. Festival favourite Mary Beard reflects on Women and Power, Diarmaid MacCulloch delves deep into the life of the ruthless, powerful Tudor fixer Thomas Cromwell, and the mysterious world of espionage is explored by Ben Macintyre (The Spy and The Traitor), intelligence historian Christopher Andrew and former MI5 Officer Annie Machon.
FOOD & DRINK
There is a feast of culinary delights on offer with celebrity chefs and leading restaurateurs taking festival goers on a global food adventure from the street food of Asia with John Torode (Sydney to Seoul) and Morocco’s scintillating flavours with Nargisse Benkabbou (Casablanca) to Middle Eastern soul food with Honey & Co founders Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich. Food writer Diana Henry explores how influences from New York to Mexico have shaped her cooking, Nadiya Hussain celebrates the very best UK home cooking, and spirits expert Dave Broom (The Way of Whisky) uncovers distilleries lost amid ancient forests in a tasting tour of Japan.
And if that’s not enough, the new grande dame of the Bake Off tent, Prue Leith shares her first cookbook in 20 years (Prue), leading restaurateurs Russell Norman, Gizzi Erskine and Yotam Ottolenghi reveal their culinary inspirations and to quench our thirst, Oz Clarke will pop the cork on his life-long love affair with wine (Red & White) and East Asian expert Bruce Ginsbergexamines the relationship between tea and Zen.
Inspiration for the house and home is on hand from gardening guru Monty Don on the delights of Islamic paradise gardens,Gardeners’ World presenter Nick Bailey and designer Jo Thompson offer tips on how to make the most of the space you have, architectural historian Jeremy Musson on the most beguiling castles, estates and manor houses in the Cotswolds, Le Manoir consultant Robert Ketchell unlocks the secrets of the Japanese garden, and Vanessa Bell’s granddaughter Virginia Nicholson delves inside the Bloomsbury Group homes with Nino Strachey.
Tom Daley brings life hacks for healthy livings (Tom’s Daily Goals), and Sali Hughes talks to Nadia Shireen about the beauty products that changed the world. Life and career inspiration will be on hand from Mishal Husain, Emma Gannon (The Multi-Hyphen Method), Otegha Uwagba (Little Black Book) and Yomi Adegoke, (Slay in Your Lane).
ART & DESIGN
Responding to the Festival theme ‘East Meets West’, Guest Curator Tristram Hunt shares the Eastern treasures within the V&A, including the significance of the iconic kimono with Anna Jackson; artist and writer Edmund de Waal offers an intimate history of porcelain; artists Chie Kutsuwada and Fumio Obata give an insight into the world of Manga; and Martin Bailey and Monika Hinkelexplore the enduring influence of the East on van Gogh. Marina Warner asks what role art plays in shaping values; Gavin Plumleyreveals the Vienna years of modernist icons Klimt and Schiele; Agnès Poirier presents a captivating portrait of art in post-war Paris; and much-loved art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon gives his definitive guide to the paintings to see before you die.
NATURE, TRAVEL & ADVENTURE
Providing a breath of fresh air are Everest conquerors Ben Fogle, Kenton Cool and the first British woman to summit, Bonita Norris, as they explain the dangerous lure of the mountain, with Guy Stagg, Leon McCarron and Kate Humble (Thinking on My Feet), recommending the transformative power of walking. Record-breaking endurance cyclist Mark Beaumont tells the story of his astonishing journey around the world in 80 days, Anna McNuff and Phoebe Smith celebrate the inspiring women in the wilderness, and Britain's wildest adventurer Sean Conway talks about how he became the fastest person to cycle 4,000 miles across Europe solo and unsupported. Cheltenham will also celebrate anniversaries with the much-loved John Craven and Anita Rani raising a glass to 30 years of Countryfile, and Peter Moore (Endeavour: The Ship and Attitude That Changed the World) marks250 years since the Endeavour set sail from Plymouth.