The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2021 is delighted to reveal a veritable feast of 200 free events and activities from 8 – 17 October, including the Festival’s infamous Lit Crawl and striking new immersive venue: VOICEBOX.
Spilling into the town from the Festival village, people of all ages will find something to enjoy - from spoken word gigs to literary pub quizzes and ghost tours, comedy and music to storytelling sessions, or simply enjoying The Times crossword with a coffee on site.
Exploring themes from mental health to activism, the brand new VOICEBOX in Montpellier Gardens will be a platform for young people to amplify the issues they care about: using creativity as a force for change and turning up the volume on everything from global initiatives to grassroots community projects. From short talks and chats about today’s most important issues, to group artworks, workshops and live music from the best established and emerging talent, this vibrant and completely free programme puts young people at the heart of the conversation.
The line-up features hands-on workshops with leading illustrators Natalie Byrne and Kazvare Made It; intimate chats with activists including Kenny Ethan Jones, Aja Barber, Charlotte Williams and Bianca Foley and writers Caleb Azumah Nelson and Hana Walker Brown; pop-up performances from poets Sophia Thakur, Raymond Antrobus, Nikita Gill and Monika Radojevic; a focus on mental health with Instagram psychologist Dr Soph and TV’s Dr Alex George, MANIFESTO FOR MINDS and Keep Real Mental Health; conversations on the future of key global issues with young advisers from Chatham House; contributions from local artists, performers and comedians including JPDL, Jussara Nazare and Rizpah Amadasun, music from Natalie Oaks, t.e.d., Grove and indie pop duo Muffintops, and a special live episode of Cheltenham’s student-led podcast, Spill the Tea.
Emma Whittle, Programme Manager said: “VOICEBOX is home to unmissable experiences and one-off moments, and we can’t wait to share this brand-new immersive programme with the public. VOICEBOX is a fun and vibrant space for conversation, celebration and debate: a place to soak up the atmosphere, explore today’s hottest topics, discover the freshest new voices and to get your views heard when it comes to the issues that matter.”
There is lots for families to discover at the Festival this year. From a chance to meet favourite book characters in The Wild Wood, to an awesome journey of discovery on the Atlas of Adventures trail, little ones are sure to find plenty to enjoy. There will be stories galore as Winnie the Witch shares her exciting adventures with her black cat Wilbur, and Story Shack is the perfect spot to travel around the world with traditional tales from different cultures. The Den will be the place to visit to make festival hats, flags and maps.
The Festival’s infamous Lit Crawl returns once more (Saturday 9 October from 5pm till late) for the Festival’s …around town programme in association with the Cheltenham BID. A fast-paced evening of comedy, readings, performances, and parties, Cheltenham’s streets, bars, and bookshops will once again burst at the seams with quirky literary happenings.
Belinda Hunt, Operations Manager at Cheltenham BID said: “We’re delighted to support the …around town programme again welcoming people to enjoy the amazing range of events available and everything our vibrant town centre has to offer. The Crawl includes immersive theatre and a literary ghost tour, ending up at The Tavern for a foot-stompingly energetic finale of music, poetry and spoken word. And for families, there’s a We’re Going on a Book Hunt trail with ten favourite characters from children’s books hidden in shops, cafes and venues across Cheltenham.”
Tying into the Festival’s major new ‘Read the World’ 3-year theme, the popular Huddle stage will have a decidedly international flavour this year with a range of free activities designed to help discover amazing writing from around the world. Literary Explorer in Residence, Ann Morgan dispenses reading recommendations, writers including Ruth Ozeki and Graeme Macrae Burnet enthuse about the world writers they love, industry insiders reveal how books have taken them around the globe and a range of publishers including Fitzcarraldo Editions, Pushkin Press and Europa Editions talk about bringing a wealth of international and translated writing to UK readers.
Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp of the #WorldKidLit project will be on hand to recommend books from around the globe to younger readers and their families; the popular Very Short introductions To...series returns, and Festival-goers can continue their literary explorations via dedicated showcases of Dutch, Scottish and Irish writing Meanwhile, one of the world’s most prestigious non-fiction prizes: The Baillie Gifford Prize will have its 2021 shortlist announced live from the Huddle stage by Chair of the Judges and Sunday Times Literary Editor Andrew Holgate on Friday 15 October at 4pm.
In the new drop-in Costa Space there’s interactive storytelling for pre-schoolers with Winnie the Witch ; inspiration for book-lovers as a different Festival guest will be on hand each day to share their recent favourite reads; the ‘Cheltenham Writes!’ series will showcase the talents of a different local writer each day and at 4pm daily a range of famous faces from the main programme will be dropping by for readings.
Follow this link www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/whats-on/grid and 'Filter by Theme' and click 'Free Event' to see the full list.
Keiron Stevens, the former Head Chef at 1 Michelin Star restaurant Adams, will be joining the Cheltenham-based restaurant group JM Socials.
He will be joining the group as their new Executive Chef, heading up the kitchen operations across their six restaurants. Beginning at one of their original Cheltenham restaurants, Prithvi, he’ll be leading the team in enhancing and developing their Indian-inspired menu.
Originally from Cheltenham, Keiron has previously cooked in two Michelin star kitchens, including as a sous chef at Pennyhill and a senior sous chef at Gidleigh Park. He also spent one year training in the illustrious 3 Michelin Star ‘Benu’ in San Francisco.
He’s now moving back to the town his culinary journey began at the then 2 Michelin Star Le Champignon Sauvage while still at school.
Discussing his new position, Keiron said: “There’s massive scope to what we can do at the JM Socials' restaurants. My main focus will be Prithvi to begin with, a fantastic restaurant in my hometown that’s won many culinary hearts. I’m excited to push things forward here and work collaboratively with the team.”
Prithvi has thrived in Cheltenham for nine years, previously being named in the top 10 UK restaurants, amongst a number of other accolades. The other JM Socials establishments, owned by long-term friends and restaurateurs Jay Rahman and Michael Raphel, are a collection of new cuisine concepts, casual eateries and South Indian restaurants.
As well as launching an espresso bar this winter, their expansion plans continue with talks of the duo launching a restaurant alongside Keiron.
Global travel site Big 7 announced their Top 50 Gastropubs list for 2021 which features 3 pubs from here in the Cotswolds.
From London boozers with creative small plates to local country inns boasting a Michelin Star, these places are shining a light on regional British ingredients. Think luxury scotch eggs, house-cured meats, and artisan ingredients... places where you come for a laid back Sunday roast and a delicious date night dinner.
Here's what they say about the 3 featured pubs from the Cotswolds.
THE WILD RABBIT, KINGHAM
The incredible food at The Wild Rabbit all starts with a huge emphasis on sourcing the best ingredients from its own market garden at Daylesford farm. Once that has been done, the dishes they serve to are contemporary and yet exactly what you want in terms of comfort food. The Wild Rabbit is a proper British inn, where you can eat, drink and sleep.
Must-eats include the South Devon beef ribeye with Bledington Blue cheese and pickled walnut, with one of the tempting seasonal soufflés for dessert.
THE CHURCHILL ARMS, PAXFORD
This 17th century inn has chef Nick Deverell-Smith at its helm, who trained under Gordon Ramsay and Marco Pierre White. So it should come as no surprise the food here is nothing short of perfection. There’s all the classics such as a pretty-pink Beef Wellington, as well as creative twists using locally sourced ingredients.
THE KILLINGWORTH CASTLE, WOOTTON Nr WOODSTOCK
‘The Killy’, as it’s locally known, has gone from strength to strength since a refurb a few years ago. A beautiful 17th-century coaching inn with barn bedrooms for guests and a menu full of local goodies.
Most of the ingredients are organic and you can taste the goodness in every mouthful. There’s even the owner’s own craft beer to sip: three ales, all brewed in the Cotswolds.
Visit bigseventravel.com/the-50-best-gastropubs-in-the-uk for the full list
We couldn't let Negroni week pass without sharing a classic recipe.
This one has been created for us by Harry (@shakermakers on Insta) at The Tavern in Cheltenham.
25ml Sweet Vermouth
Garnish - Orange Wedge
Photographer: Glenn Dearing (@glenndearing)
Today marks six months until The Festival™ returns to Cheltenham Racecourse.
Enjoy four incredible action-packed days of racing, featuring 14 Grade One races across four seven-racecards as the best horses, trainers and jockeys go head to head.
This year's festival was dominated by the Irish horses with Rachael Blackmore and Henry De Bromhead, both having unforgettable weeks.
Tickets for The Festival™ are on sale now.