Cheltenham Literature Festival announces its free programme for 2023

With a packed programme of free events, visitors to Cheltenham Literature Festival have the chance to see big-name comedians, TV stars and live theatre performances without spending a penny.

By Chloe Gorman  |  Published
From big name comedians and TV personalities to bestselling authors, over a quarter of the events at Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023 are free to attend.

Cheltenham Literature Festival is back in town from Friday 6 to Sunday 15 October 2023 — and it has just announced its free programme of events.

Over a quarter of this year's events cost nothing to attend, with the chance to see comedians, TV stars, bestselling authors and theatre performances for free at both the Festival Village and at venues across the town. 

Some of the biggest names visitors can see for free include Countdown star Susie Dent, who is appearing at the Clockwise flexible working hub at Festival House; Waterstones children's laureate Joseph Coelho who is hosting a poetry adventure for children; and the principal harpist for the BBC Concert Orchestra, Anne Denholm, who is also performing live. 

Taking place across the town, the eclectic Lit Crawl returns on Saturday 7 October 2023, with three phases of free entertainment spanning everything from poetry slams to live theatre. Highlights include The Fourth Bride, taking place at The Coffee Dispensary from 7.30pm, where Cheltenham-based immersive theatre company Moth Sanctuary Productions brings one of Dracula's most infamous victims back from the dead; the chance to meet author Toshikazu Kawaguchi at The Sober Parrot; and comedian Josie Long in conversation at Waterstones.

There's lots of 'Read The World' events, from Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai exploring the literature and folk songs of her native Vietnam to a celebration of Cheltenham's Ukrainian community. There's also a Black British Book Festival takeover on the VOICEBOX stage, alongside workshops, panel talks, music and comedy. 

Families have plenty to choose from, too, with appearances from popular children's authors Lucy Rowland and Sharna Jackson, translator Ruth Ahmedazi Kemp and illustrator Duncan Beedle, as well as John Dougherty and Thomas Docherty telling a story and drawing live — not to mention storytelling sessions, children's book swaps and fun interactive activities from the Moomin Mail Trail to meeting the Cat in the Hat taking place every day at the Festival Village. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival's head of programming, Nicola Tuxworth, said: 'We are so excited by this year’s dynamic and diverse free programme. Every year it features some of the highlights of the whole festival, and this year is no different: from the best in world literature to the latest children’s authors, we’ve set out to make sure there’s something for everyone.

'So come and join us, all for free — the more the merrier!'

For more information, see Cheltenham Literature Festival

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