17 festivals and major events to enjoy in Cheltenham across 2024

Known as 'The Festival Town', Cheltenham is home to more than 35 annual festivals and major events. SoGlos takes a closer look at some of the highlights coming up over the next six months which are bursting with exciting action for all ages.

By Emma Luther  |  Published
Cheltenham is overflowing with events that celebrate culture and creativity.
In partnership with Visit Cheltenham  |  visitcheltenham.com
Visit Cheltenham

Visit Cheltenham is the official tourist board for the Regency town, managed by Cheltenham Borough Council in partnership with Cheltenham BID and other local organisations, providing information and inspiration for eating, drinking, shopping and staying in Cheltenham.

Summer and beyond in Cheltenham is packed full of feel-good experiences, with unmissable events spanning music, literature, science, food and drink, vintage trains and the world's longest running cricket festival.

With a packed calendar of cultural festivals and major sports events, it can be hard to choose just what to do.

In partnership with Visit Cheltenham, SoGlos rounds up some of the Cheltenham 2024 festivals that you won't want to miss!

Wychwood Festival 

Family favourite, Wychwood Festival is returning to Cheltenham Racecourse from Friday 31 May to Sunday 2 June 2024, with music, comedy, wellbeing and kids entertainment on the bill. 

This year's line-up features Texas and Ocean Colour Scene as headliners, with performances from The Hoosiers, Seasick Steve and The Feeling — as well as a mass workout on the main stage, led by 90s icon Mr Motivator.

Cheltenham Science Festival 

Giving science fans a chance to have their minds blown by bestselling authors, activists, scientists and even a real-life astronaut, Cheltenham Science Festival returns to the town from Tuesday 4 to Sunday 9 June 2024.

With more than 100 events spanning everything from the role of science in predicting election results to discussing whether we're alone in the universe, the festival brings some of the world's brightest minds to Cheltenham for the five-day celebration of science.

Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Real Ale Festival 

Choo choo! This is a pub crawl with a difference. Hop on a steam train and journey back in time while sipping on the finest brews during the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway Real Ale Festival. Bars at Winchcombe and Toddington stations, will serve almost 50 different ales between them. 

On Friday 14 June 2024, a steam locomotive is running between Cheltenham Racecourse and Broadway, along with two heritage diesel locomotives for train fans. If you are not travelling on the trains, but fancy sampling the beer at either station, you can buy a platform ticket for £3.

Lives of Colour Culture Fest 

This free event, hosted by Cheltenham charity Lives of Colour, takes over Pittville Park on Saturday 15 June 2024 from midday to 7.30pm, creating a vibrant space for residents and visitors to come together to celebrate Cheltenham's multicultural community.

Activities to look forward to include face painting, traditional dance lessons and African drumming, with live music and authentic global grub from a variety of vendors, too.

Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival 

From Friday 21 to Sunday 23 June 2024, this thoroughly tasty event in Montpellier Gardens celebrates some of the finest food and drink from across Gloucestershire and beyond. With cooking demonstrations, wine talks and tastings, live music and street theatre there's plenty to whet your appetite.

Little ones aren't forgotten at Cheltenham Food and Drink Festival, with children's entertainment at the weekend and a dog show created by Cheltenham Animal Shelter. Early bird tickets start from £8. 

Cheltenham Cricket Festival 

A highlight of the summer, this is an unmissable opportunity for any cricket fan to be bowled over by the longest running cricket festival in the world. Kicking off on Sunday 30 June and running through to Friday 19 July 2024, the idyllic setting of Cheltenham College provides the perfect backdrop for cricket at the height of summer.

This year, Gloucestershire is taking on Glamorgan, Kent Spitfires and Middlesex. Expect a fantastic atmosphere while soaking up the sunshine with great food and drink on offer too.

Wimbledon Big Screen 

From the much-anticipated first game, right up until the nail-biting finals, all the action from Wimbledon will be brought to the big screen at The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham. Streaming from Monday 1 to Sunday 14 July 2024, catch all the action from midday to 9pm daily.

With rows of deckchairs to relax in and enjoy the games, there’s room to bring all your mates and specially curated Wimbledon inspired menus to try too. There’s no need to book and it’s free to watch the games.

Cheltenham Music Festival 

One for classical music enthusiasts, Cheltenham Music Festival is one of the most prestigious music festivals in the world — and this year's event takes place from Saturday 6 until Saturday 13 July 2024.

With a programme of show-stopping concerts in extraordinary local venues like Cheltenham Town Hall and Pittville Pump Room, the festival celebrates the very best the world of classical music has to offer, from the most exciting up-and-coming composers to world-renowned orchestras performing iconic works. 

Summer Diesel Gala at GWSR 

Running from Friday 12 to Sunday 14 July 2024, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway annual Diesel Gala at Toddington promises a unique blend of vintage charm and modern power as it celebrates the rich heritage of railway transportation. 

Climb aboard one of the meticulously restored diesel locomotives and embark on a nostalgic journey through time. Feel the rumble of the engines, hear the whistle blow, and experience the magic of a bygone era in the comfort of a vintage carriage.

Cheltenham 7s Festival 

Expect an unmissable two days of fun, action, entertainment and partying at Newlands Park in Southam Lane on Friday 19 and Saturday 20 July 2024 at Cheltenham 7s Festival. It's ideal for festivalgoers, sport lovers and families too.

There'll be lots of sports, lively music with a huge main stage, shopping, food and drink, a fitness competition zone, family entertainment, fairground rides, a colour fun run and the chance to cheer on your favourites during the charity rugby match. There's camping available to make the most of the weekend too.

Summer Jam: The Lakefest Warmup 

Bringing festival vibes to town centre, The Brewery Quarter in Cheltenham is hosting Summer Jam: The Lakefest Warmup this July 2024 — featuring top talent handpicked from the Lakefest line-up, plus the final of the Road to Lakefest competition, which sees talented local bands battling it out for a place on the main stage. 

Taking place from Friday 26 to Sunday 28 July 2024, the free event gives visitors a taster of what's to come at the popular music festival at Eastnor Castle in August, with three days of music and family entertainment. The Brewery Quarter's plethora of bars and restaurants are also serving up cocktails, craft beers, ciders and tasty takeaway food. 

Cheltenham Paint Festival 

The annual Cheltenham Paint Festival brings high-quality artwork from leading national and international street artists to Cheltenham every year. Happening on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 July 2024, expect splashes of vibrant colours and high energy designs.

All of the large scale art murals are permanent, so you can admire them long after the artists have left town. Lace up your walking shoes on, or jump on your bike, to explore the eight kilometre street art route around Cheltenham.

Cheltenham Heritage Open Days 

Take the chance to see hidden places and try out new experiences with a range of open buildings across Cheltenham from Friday 6 to Sunday 15 September 2024. Explore on your own or as part of an organised tour with guided walks, talks, exhibitions inside many hidden gems that aren't usually open to the public.

The events are all free, but tickets must be pre-booked for some events where numbers are limited. Organised by Cheltenham Civic Society and run by volunteers, the carefully thought out programme is found in brochures, which feature all of the activities and open buildings.

Cheltenham International Film Festival

This festival is celebrating its sixth anniversary this year, as it brings the best of world cinema to enthusiastic audiences through films that question, inspire, entertain as well as through documentaries that raise issues and inform from Friday 13 to Sunday 22 September 2024.

There'll be film shorts by filmmakers who are new to the industry and tributes to recognise the contributions of celebrated artists who have left a legacy of great cinema. The festival is based at Cineworld in The Brewery Quarter and the programme for 2024 will be announced in August. 

Cheltenham Food + Drink Week  

The third Cheltenham Food + Drink Week returns to shine a spotlight on more than 40 of Cheltenham’s incredible chefs, restaurants, bars and cafes from Monday 16 to Sunday 22 September 2024. It all kicks off at The Queens Hotel with a drinks reception, panel of high-profile local chefs and three-course dinner.

On Thursday 19 September 2024 a hosted pub crawl will highlight unique drinking spots across Cheltenham. And on Saturday 21 September 2024 Cheltenham Chilli Fiesta will bring a blast of heat to The Brewery Quarter, with a chilli eating competition, food talks and live music. 

Holst 150 Birthday Celebration 

On the back of concerts, plays, dance, exhibitions, and an array of community curated events and projects rolled out across Cheltenham from June 2024; the crowning glory will culminate in a free community event in Imperial Gardens on Holst’s 150th birthday on Saturday 21 September 2024.

Full details of the colourful and uplifting birthday bash will be revealed nearer the time. Fans will no doubt be waiting to hear The Planets ringing out at some point!

Cheltenham Literature Festival 

The impressive 10-day programme draws book fans from across the UK with its mixture of ticketed events, free family activities and events as well as fringe events scattered across town.

Taking place from Friday 4 to Sunday 13 October 2024, some of the world’s foremost writers, thinkers and performers will provide plenty of food for thought during a jam-packed timetable of fascinating discussion. We can't wait to hear who the 2024 headliners will be!

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