Press release: Visit Cheltenham – The Festival Town

It’s long been known for its festivals and now Cheltenham is officially becoming The Festival Town.

The town may have a population of only 117,000 but stages around 25 significant festivals every year, several of which are world leading. It will now promote itself with the strapline “Visit Cheltenham – The Festival Town”.

Rooted in the town’s spa and Regency heritage and as a place for leisure and pleasure, the new brand builds on its positioning as the place to come and refresh your mind, body and soul, only now our healing waters have been replaced by the town’s refreshing festival vibes.

Marketing Cheltenham, which worked with The Little Big Agency believes the new distinctive brand will be a key part in attracting new national and international visitors.

The festivals bring thousands of visitors and millions of pounds into Cheltenham’s economy each year. The largest and most well-known festival is the world-famous horse racing event ‘The Festival’, featuring the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March – the 4th largest sporting event in the UK.  The town is famous for the oldest Literature festival in the world whilst the Jazz, Science and Music festival programs are the envy of many a cities. 

Other festivals that attract significant audiences to Cheltenham are Wychwood Festival, the Poetry Festival, Comedy Festival and The Festival of Performing Arts. In recent years, four new festivals have joined the party – Cheltenham Paint Festival, Cheltenham International Film Festival, Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta and Cheltenham Wellbeing Festival. 

Kelly Ballard, Manager of Marketing Cheltenham, said: “In 2017 we launched a strategy to grow Cheltenham’s visitor economy by 5% year on year.  The market for visitors is very competitive but we know that market is growing, particularly from overseas visitors, and we want a part of that.  So, we commissioned market research into what people feel about Cheltenham and its appeal as a visitor destination.

“The findings came back loud and clear – people saw Cheltenham mainly as ‘the horse racing place’.  Whilst horse racing brings a huge contribution to Cheltenham, it is only 16 days of the year.  If we want people to come year-round, then people need to associate the town with something distinctive. 

“Working with the team from Little Big Agency as well as a consortium of organisations from across the town, we have decided that we want Cheltenham to become known as ‘The Festival Town’.

Festivals are what we do well, it is part of our heritage and there is a growing number of people going to festivals across the world.” 

Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council said “Cheltenham is a great town that has so much on offer for visitors. Locally we are very proud of our festivals and the contribution they bring to the culture of Cheltenham for residents and businesses alike.  The Festival Town strapline seems like a natural choice.”   

Ian George, Director of Festivals at Cheltenham Festivals, and one of those involved in the rebranding exercise said they are proud to be part of Cheltenham’s cultural offering, having hosted festivals here since 1945. 

“The Festivals are an integral part of Cheltenham’s unique offer as a Cultural Destination, as we bring together the hottest new talent and the very best in the best,” he said. “There are few other towns in England which play host to such an astonishing breadth of artists, authors, musicians, scientists and writers each year.

“Our year-round outreach projects engage with our national and local community’s and culminate at the Festivals, bringing people of diverse ages and backgrounds together in a celebration of the Arts and Science which we believe should be accessible to all.”

One of the things that’s special about festivals in Cheltenham is the stunning Regency architecture and backdrop of the Cotswolds hills.

Julian Dunkerton, Superdry Co-founder and Entrepreneur has been investing in Cheltenham’s visitor economy for over ten years and 2020 will see the opening of his fourth boutique Regency hotel with the refurbishment of The George in St Georges Road. The Lucky Onion Group, which he owns with his wife, fashion designer Jade Holland Cooper, epitomises Cheltenham festival spirit and style. 

He said: ”Cheltenham’s festivals have evolved enormously over the past number of years and are incredibly important in stimulating growth in tourism and the regional economy.

As a local Cheltonian and an entrepreneur, my goal is to play a supportive role in putting Cheltenham on the map. This exciting re-brand to establish Cheltenham as the festival town of the UK is a key turning point for the region. With an ever-expanding array of festivals that take place annually from Horse Racing, Jazz, Culture, Food and Literature there is an appetite and a clear vision to really catapult Cheltenham to the forefront of the nation as the festival town of the UK”

Ian Johnson, of The Little Big Agency, said that the three words “The Festival Town” summed up everything about Cheltenham.

“There are no sodden fields and overflowing toilets with our festivals,” he said. “What you get when you visit Cheltenham is a wonderful mix of the traditional and the modern – an oasis of calm, creativity and culture just waiting to be discovered.”

The new branding will be rolled out across all of the Visit Cheltenham digital channels and all partners and associates in the visitor economy will have access to photos, text and a new video that they can use to sell the town’s story. 

Any business who would like to get involved in the campaign to promote Cheltenham to the world should get in touch with Marketing Cheltenham through marketing@marketingcheltenham.co.uk