Cheltenham Festivals gears up for a summer of culture

Cheltenham's worldwide reputation as 'The Festival Town' is thanks, in no small part, to the incredible events hosted by Cheltenham Festivals — and the team is gearing up to bring a summer of culture to the local community, starting with Cheltenham Science Festival this June 2024.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
With Cheltenham Science, Music and Literature Festival all coming up, the Cheltenham Festivals team is gearing up to bring a summer of culture to the town.

Hot on the heels of Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which saw Dionne Warwick, Robert Plant, Morcheeba and Sophie Ellis Bextor strut their stuff on the Big Top stage, Cheltenham Festivals is kicking off a summer of culture in the town.

Starting with Cheltenham Science Festival from Tuesday 4 to Sunday 9 June, followed by Cheltenham Music Festival from Saturday 6 to Saturday 13 July and rounded off by the world-renowned The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival from Friday 4 to Sunday 13 October 2024, each event brings a host of famous names to the Regency town.

But while the main programme is undeniably a huge draw for local music, science and literature fans, the breadth and depth of Cheltenham Festivals' community outreach is surprising, as the charity aims to make culture accessible for everyone. 

Each festival features a wealth of additional activities designed for different audiences both on the festival sites and at venues across Cheltenham — from the Science for Schools programme at Cheltenham Science Festival, to engage and inspire local children; the 'no-rules' Classical Mixtape at Cheltenham Music Festival, where performers and audiences are free to relax and enjoy the music however they want; to Cheltenham Literature Festival's infamous ...around town Lit Crawl, which brings free, literary-themed entertainment to unconventional venues across the town centre, from immersive live theatre to poetry slams and open mic events.

The charity's free ticket scheme, Connections, supported by Caring for Communities and People and Cheltenham Welcomes Refugees, provides access to main programme events for community groups who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend; and alongside its year-round programmes for schools and educators, each festival invites local school children to experience a specially curated programme just for them. 

This year's Cheltenham Science Festival will see hundreds of kids engage with science, technology and maths at over 60 Key Stage-tailored talks on everything from the climate crisis to becoming an astronaut, while the interactive zones at the vibrant Festival Village allow schoolchildren to unleash their creativity at MakerShack; enjoy some healthy competition at The Arcade; get hands on with science experiments in the Discover Zone; meet aerospace experts from some of the county's biggest businesses in the GE Pavilion; and learn how to ID trees with The Woodland Trust. 

While at Cheltenham Music Festival 2024, the concert for schools taking place at Cheltenham Town Hall gives children the chance to hear dance music from across the ages — spanning waltzes, tangos and polkas — and the opportunity to play some of the instruments themselves afterwards; while the thoughtfully-curated relaxed concert for schools is designed with SEND children in mind and is free for schools to attend. 

Cheltenham Festivals also has a mission to nurture emerging talent, with incredible opportunities across its science, music and literature events.

Some of the brightest minds in science from across the world are given just three minutes to share a scientific concept of their choice with a global audience as part of FameLab at Cheltenham Science Festival, with the aim of finding and developing the next generation of science communicators — and festival headliners!

At Cheltenham Music Festival, the BBC New Generation Artists series features young musicians making waves on the international stage, with performances from the best young talent at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire features on the…around town programme. 

While Cheltenham Literature Festival gives unpublished writers a platform to showcase their work through Local Voices; young people the chance to have their voices heard with the groundbreaking VOICEBOX programme; and local creatives, artists, performers, poets and more a unique platform for their literary-inspired entertainment at the Lit Crawl. 

The festivals are also helping to shape the future of their respective fields.

Cheltenham Science Festival in particular is pushing boundaries with its use of artificial intelligence, with the festival being described as 'the longest-running AI influencer project that exists' and the event's head of programming, Dr Marieke Navin, co-authoring a white paper on the potential applications and uses of AI in festival activity in the future. 

Co-CEO of Cheltenham Festivals, Ian George, said: 'From championing emerging artists and writers to sparking the curiosity of budding scientists, our mission to create a world where everyone can explore culture doesn’t stop at our Jazz, Music, Science or Literature Festivals.

'Our team works year-round to nurture and develop the talents of our local communities through our extensive learning and participation programmes, creating opportunities for them to showcase their work at the festival and beyond. Being able to see our community grow, develop and find joy in developing their skills or trying something new is at the very heart of what we do.'

For more information about learning, participation and outreach at Cheltenham Festivals events, see 10 incredible initiatives from Cheltenham Festivals.

Or to book tickets, visit

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