Cheltenham Literature's Hybrid Festival 2 - 11 October 2020

Cheltenham Festivals joins forces with a raft of industry leaders for the charity’s pioneering hybrid instalment of its iconic Literature Festival: 2 – 11 October 2020

Cheltenham Festivals are delighted to announce the official partners supporting this year’s pioneering hybrid instalment of the oldest literature festival in the world and reaching a new, virtual audience: The Times, The Sunday Times, Waterstones, Cunard, Baillie Gifford, University of Gloucestershire, Sky Arts and, new for this year, the Bupa Foundation, Times Radio, Audible and Marquee TV

Within a cultural landscape altered by the pandemic, Cheltenham Literature Festival – which last year celebrated its 70th birthday – remains committed to its charitable mission of feeding the human spirit, and delivering innovative, world-class content that reaches as wide an audience as possible. This year’s selection of partners – including three multi-media additions – will support the Festival in a bold and ambitious move: for the first time in the history, this unmissable highlight of the literary calendar will combine in-person and digital events, broadcast live from Cheltenham’s Town Hall and the Everyman Theatre in front of a socially-distanced live audience.

The Festival will also be partnering with the Bupa Foundation to launch a new creative writing project – alongside Mind and the National Literacy Trust – that will help support young people and their mental wellbeing: Beyond Words for Mental Health Day.

Ian George, Festival Director of Cheltenham Festivals, said: “Cheltenham Festivals are committed to working with partners who support our charitable mission, and share our ambition and passion. This year’s Literature Festival and its pioneering hybrid format is a bold move for us and the industry – it could change landscape of literary festivals for the future. We are thrilled to have the continued confidence of our longstanding partners and also to welcome three dynamic new additions to our festival family. Together, we are set to reach a new, virtual audience and ensure that our exceptional offering is more accessible than ever before – and we can’t wait to see the next chapter in the Cheltenham Literature Festival story unfold in October.”

Longstanding title partners of the Festival – The Times & The Sunday Times – are set to sponsor 15 events on this year’s spectacular programme, with 24 journalists and columnists from the two papers bringing their expertise and insight to the current affairs, books, lifestyle, travel collections including Dolly Alderton, Emma Tucker, Danny Finkelstein, Caitlin Moran, Sathnam Sanghera, and literary editors Robbie Millen and Andrew Holgate. Times Radio, the new station presented by The Times, The Sunday Times and Wireless Group, joins the festival family as one of three new partners for this year and will provide listeners access to exclusive behind the scenes content.

Times Radio Programme Director Tim Levell said: “Times Radio will be stationed in Cheltenham Town Hall at the heart of the action to bring a flavour of the festival to listeners, wherever they may be around the country. Tune in to Times Radio to hear interviews with the biggest names, the highlights from right across the festival schedule, and of course a large slice of all the behind-the scenes festival buzz.”

The world’s leading provider of audio entertainment, Audible is another new partner contributing to a unique Festival experience, showcasing the art of audio and the different ways of loving literature through performance with events such as: ‘A Good Listen: The Making of an Audiobook’ giving a glimpse into audio narration with renowned voice actress Imogen Church and bestselling crime writer Mark Billingham; ‘The Art of The Short Story’ with this year’s The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award winner Niamh Campbell; and ‘Diverse Ideas, Ground-breaking Writing’ featuring award-winning independent publisher Jacaranda Books and authors from their trailblazing initiative of 20 works by 20 black writers in 2020, each of which is available as an Audible Studios title on publication.

Kevin Addley, Country Manager at Audible in the UK, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Cheltenham Literature Festival to create a programme of live and digital experiences celebrating the art of audio entertainment. We will be taking book and audio lovers behind the scenes to discover how audiobooks are created, celebrating exciting and diverse new voices in audio with our partners Jacaranda Books and The Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award, and sharing a preview of a selection of new Audible Originals coming this Autumn.”    

The final new addition to this year’s line-up is Marquee TV, the official streaming partner for the 2020 Festival. Marquee TV have collaborated with the programming team to present a dedicated series of exclusive filmed interviews with leading international writers providing an insight into life in lockdown called ‘The World is Waiting’, featuring Marilynne Robinson, Kawai Strong Washburn, Sayaka Murata and more. Alongside this series, Marquee TV will engage their international audience of subscribers in America, Canada and Australia with a best of the fest selection including Andrew Marr, DBC Pierre and Victoria Hislop.

Susannah Simons, Director of Partnerships at Marquee TV, said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the world’s oldest literature festival on their pioneering hybrid model, helping them transition from a live only, to a live and digital future. At Marquee TV it’s our mission to offer arts organisations a global, digital platform that connects them with audiences worldwide. Our first literary collaboration will see exclusive interviews and content from the festival by literary luminaries adding to our rich mix of dance, ballet, classical music, opera and theatre – giving a platform to the most exciting voices in the arts today.”

Helping the Festival reach an even wider broadcast audience, Sky Arts returns as a partner following last year’s on-site activation and studio in Montpellier Gardens. Highlights from this year’s festival, including To Be Someone: The Jam, Publishing Matters and Ruth Jones, will be broadcast on Sky Arts as the channel becomes free for everyone to watch on Freeview from 17 September.

Further returning partners include Waterstones, who will present a digital incarnation on the new Cheltenham Literature Festival microsite with book purchases supporting the Festival and its future. Waterstones are also set to support the CLiPPA announcement, with a competition offering the chance to win the shortlisted titles.

Cunard, Cheltenham Festival’s co-creator of the first ‘Literature Festival at Sea’ on board its flagship Queen Mary 2, returns to the festival on its 180th Anniversary year, to present the Writers’ Lounge at The Queen’s Hotel and a series of five author events, including Richard and Mat Osman, Gavin Francis, Carys Davies, Rachel Joyce and Anthony Horowitz. Cunard’s Literature Festival at Sea Transatlantic Crossing returns in November 2021.

A supporter synonymous with literary festivals as well as the UK’s leading non-fiction prize, Baillie Gifford returns to Cheltenham to support the Festival in its international current affairs strand. Speakers include Ian Goldin, Tim Harford, Elif Shafak, Robert Winder and Rana Mitter

Michelle McLeod, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford said: “Although this year has been challenging for the arts, we have witnessed first-hand the ambition, commitment and innovation that has given festival-goers the opportunity to engage with writers from across the globe. It’s great to see the return of live events.”

And, last but no mean least, the Festival is proud to renew its established partnership with the University of Gloucestershire. Demonstrating a shared commitment to talent development, the Festival and the University will help present unique experiences to students, including an exclusive Q&A with Hashi Mohamed.

For more information:

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2 – 11 October 2020

Cheltenham Jazz Festival 28 April – 3 May 2021

Cheltenham Science Festival 8 – 13 June 2021

Cheltenham Music Festival 2 – 11 July 2021

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