Record-breaking year for Cheltenham Literature Festival…

Yet again, The 2018 Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival has broken box office records. The organisers issued 141,500 tickets across the event schedule, welcoming over 760 authors to the town and helping to transform our parks and venues into a veritable delight for bibliophiles and residents alike.

The 2018 Cheltenham Literature Festival in numbers:

  • 10 days of events
  • 141,500 tickets issues
  • 20,000 people each weekend enjoyed the free events and family zone
  • Over 760 authors in the town
  • 6,720 volunteering hours completed
  • 9,000 school children attended from 97 schools – almost double compared with two years ago
  • 96 lorries used to dismantle the festival village.

More importantly, participants at the 10-day festival praised its inclusive atmosphere. Speakers including Susan Calman, Jo Brand, Lyse Doucet and Chris Hoy talked of the importance, in today’s increasingly polarised society, of listening to each other and just being kind. The sentiment was summed up by Richard Curtis who said: “[Cheltenham Literature Festival is] a universally positive, excellent, educational, optimistic and interesting event and it is a kind of model. If people say to you the world’s not wonderful, this is kind of wonderful, so, thank you all very much.”

Head of Programming Nicola Tuxworth said: “The record numbers attending this year’s Festival shows that our appetite for the written and spoken word is stronger than ever. Our most diverse programme yet filled venues both large and small for unique experiences such as Sir David Attenborough’s only festival appearance this year, and events featuring authors from across the globe. We introduced our audiences to a new generation of the best new voices on the literary scene and were proud to showcase the work of Cheltenham authors in our Locally-Sourced and Cheltenham Writes collections.”

Speaking to the team, some Festival highlights included:

  • Sir David Attenborough revealed that the animal language he would most like to
    learn is dolphin.
  • Richard Curtis admitted his first choice for Four Weddings and A Funeral was not
    Hugh Grant, but Alan Rickman.
  • A four-letter literary debate on Mr Darcy vs Heathcliff made the headlines.
  • Chris Hoy called for an end to “them versus us” between car drivers and cyclists.
  • Tristram Hunt argued that museums should increase entry prices at weekends.
  • The great-granddaughter of suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, Dr Helen Pankhurst,
    made parallels between the #MeToo movement and the fight for women’s rights
    100 years ago.
  • And Festival volunteer litter-picker John Wood Philips achieved his ambition of
    appearing on stage at the Festival in a specially curated series of locally-sourced
    Cheltenham Writes events.

Well done to the whole team and thanks for making Cheltenham a fabulous place to live!