Cheltenham Literature Festival

The world's longest running literature festival is back this October 2023, as The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival returns with over 500 events spanning everything from poetry to politics — with some high profile speakers on the line-up.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
The world's longest running literature festival returns to Cheltenham this October 2023, with over 500 events.

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is back in town from Friday 6 to Sunday 15 October 2023, bringing a host of celebrity speakers to town. 

Literature lovers can hear from high profile politicians, comedy legends, prolific songwriters, performance poets and bestselling authors, as well as enjoying fantastic free entertainment thanks to the Festival Village, the VOICEBOX programme and the legendary Lit Crawl — with SoGlos handpicking just some of the festival's many highlights...

High profile politicians at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023

Former prime minister Theresa May joins the Cheltenham Literature Festival line-up, calling for radical changes in politics off the back of her new book, The Abuse of Power; Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, talks about taking a stand against the climate emergency; former foreign secretary and leader of the Conservative party, William Hague, joins the panel for 'The Times Debate: Fixing Broken Britain'; and former first minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is in conversation with fellow Scot and crime writer, Val McDermid, as well as appearing on 'Desert Island Books' to talk about the titles she'd like to be marooned with.

Shadow secretary for health and social care, Wes Streeting, shares how he made his way out of poverty; outspoken MP Jess Phillips debates the major news stories of the moment with Danny Finkelstein, Marcus Brigstocke and Geoff Norcott; BBC political editor, John Sergeant, analyses the year in politics with Baroness Nicky Morgan; while Westminster commentators, Alastair Campbell and Ian Dunt, take a deep dive into the biggest issues in British politics.

TV, music and sports stars at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023

Lexicographer and Countdown star, Susie Dent, shares stories and phrases from the medieval era; Elton John's long-time song writing partner, Bernie Taupin, explores his dramatic career; Succession star Brian Cox tells his own rags to riches story; Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick launches his new non-fiction book about his beloved dog Kiera; and actor Richard E. Grant sits down with Emma Freud to talk about his memoir.

Countryfile presenter and Strictly star, Anita Rani, interrogates patriarchal bias in history alongside author Annabelle HirschBBC News anchor and journalist, Clive Myrie, discusses his illustrious career; naturalist Chris Packham teams up with scientist Andrew Cohen to share a four-billion-year biography of Earth; Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman talks to ballroom dancing legend and Strictly judge, Shirley Ballas, about her new novel; and Gloucester Rugby legend Danny Cipriani covers everything from sharing a pitch with England's greatest stars to media scandals. 

Ruby Wax sits down with Buddhist monk, Gelong Thubten, to share ways to navigate tough times; Love Island star and guest curator, Dr Alex George, shares his mental health toolkit; and Trinny Woodall teaches people how to improve their self-confidence and feel empowered at every stage of life. 

For foodies, chef and Great British Menu presenter, Andi Oliver, chats to her daughter and presenter Miquita Oliver about discovering their Antiguan roots; Bake Off favourite Nadiya Hussain shares the ingredients and techniques her family used while she was growing up, before dishing up a delicious lunch inspired by her British and Bangladeshi heritage; another Bake Off star, John Whaite, tells his personal story to book reviewer Uli Lenart; Michel Roux talks to fellow chef, Romy Gill, about about the recipes passed down through generations of his famous family; and actor Nick Frost explores how food evokes memories, inspired by his new memoir, A Slice of Fried Gold.

Comedians at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023

David Mitchell introduces his new book, Unruly, sharing the stories of some of England's earliest monarchs — and how utterly silly they could be; Monty Python legend, Michael Palin, follows in his great uncle Harry's footsteps to reveal the story of the British Empire; and David Baddiel shares a fresh perspective on the existence of God. 

Matt Lucas launches his latest heart-warming children's book with performative reading from his partner-in-comedy and bestselling author in his own right, David Walliams.

Bestselling authors at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023

Thursday Murder Club author, Richard Osman, talks to Jackson Brodie creator, Kate Atkinson, about her career; New York Times bestseller Lauren Groff chats to former student and author C Pam Zhang about their creative relationship; historian Peter Frankopan looks to a peaceful, green and healthy future with computer scientist Michael Wooldridge; the youngest ever Booker Prize winner, Eleanor Catton, discusses her latest novel; classicist, comedian, author and fierce feminist, Natalie Haynes invokes the divine power of goddesses; and podcaster and author, Emma Gannon, debunks 'The Success Myth'.

Co-host of the Booker Prize podcast, James Walton, reveals this year's shortlist; while Baillie Gifford Prize judge, Frederick Studemann, announces this year's shortlist live at the festival, too. 

The festival also welcomes leading authors from Iceland and Japan to this year's event, including Toshikazu Kawaguchi, Emi Yagi, Yu Miri, Lilja Sigurdardóttir, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir and Ragnar Jónasson.

Poets at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023

Focusing on classic poetry, Katherine Rundell talks about her Baillie Gifford Prize-winning biography of English poet, John Donne; Chaucer scholar, Marion Turner, explores the bawdy Wife of Bath; and Emma Smith and Farah-Karim-Cooper discuss Shakespeare's First Folio — with a comedic take on the Bard's work in You're Bard, too. 

While in contemporary poetry, Jamaican dub poet, Linton Kwesi Johnson, talks about his career-spanning collection Time Come, which brings his cultural and political writings together for the first time; Anthony Joseph performs work from his T.S. Eliot Prize-winning Sonnets for Albert; World Poetry Slam champion, Harry Baker, makes an appearance after his sell-out Edinburgh Fringe run; and Tongue Fu bring storytellers, poets, rappers and comedians together with a live band for a completely unique set. 

Family events at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023

Beloved children's author, Jacqueline Wilson, gives audiences an insight into how she comes up with story ideas; Liz Fost celebrates the centenary of Judith Kerr with a special event based on Mog the Forgetful Cat; Martin Brown commemorates 30 horrible years of bestselling children's history series, Horrible Histories; comedy horror writer Jennifer Killick joins children's laureate Joseph Coelho and bestselling novelist Elle McNicoll to share the inspiration behind her chilling stories; and TV personality, Dr Ranj, hosts a celebration of families of all shapes and sizes.

Sophie Dahl and other authors host interactive storytelling sessions; authors and illustrators including the much-loved Rob Biddulph, Beatrice Blue and Dapo Adeola let kids get creative; Geek Girl author Holly Smale explores neurodiversity in literature with Hana Walker Brown; and acclaimed author Tanya Burne chats to William Hussey and up-and-coming writer Daniel Tawse about queer romance, TikTok and writing believable characters.

In other highlights, with a Friday the 13th falling during this year's festival, there's also The Gothic Cabaret to look out for, with spine-chilling storytelling courtesy of Lit Fest regulars, Moth Sanctuary Productions and the old-timey blues and vaudeville sounds of Jo Carley and The Old Dry Skulls on, you guessed it, Friday 13 October 2023.

Tickets for Cheltenham Literature Festival go on sale to members on Wednesday 30 August and to the general public on Wednesday 6 September, with free events due to be announced on Friday 8 September 2023.


Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023


Various venues across Cheltenham


Friday 6 to Sunday 15 October 2023


Times vary per event


Prices vary per event


(01242) 850270

In partnership with Cheltenham Festivals  |

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