The Cheltenham Literature Festival 2017 line-up has been announced and this year’s bill is as eclectic and diverse as ever. The festival is set to run from the 6th-15th October and offers something for everyone with food writers, historians, political commentators and authors a plenty. With both Yarrow and Stable Cottage within an hour’s drive of the historic market town, there’s no excuse not to inject a bit of culture into your Beachspoke holiday this Autumn and to make life a little easier, we have even curated our pick of the very best events to book.
For the Foodies
The first half of the festival is quite male dominated when it comes to chef and food events. We kick things off with Hand and Flowers, Michellin Star chef Tom Kerridge on Friday the 6th October who is talking to Tim Hubbard about Dopamine Diets after losing eleven stone in three years. Kerridge is known for his hearty pub grub but don’t let his new foray into healthy alternatives put you off, he is keen to prove how this new approach is easy to stick to and guaranteed to make you happy. On Saturday the 7th, Scott Hallsworth the former head chef of London culinary hotspot Nobu, takes to the stage to discuss his new food Junk Food Japan. Renowned for his wild and inventive style and his passion for pushing gastronomic boundaries at Kurobuta, his new venture since leaving Nobu. Junk Food Japan features flavour-filled Japanese classics with a twist, showcasing all the delicious delicacies Kurobuta has to offer. This event is particularly appealing as attendees are treated to a two course lunch with recipes taken from the book as Scott discusses his career and inspirations with renowned food writer, Julia Leonard. On Monday the 9th October, River Cottage hero Hugh Fearnley- Whittingstall is still pre-occupied with veg and talking to Tim Hubbard about his new book River Cottage Much More Veg, presenting recipes that are not only foolproof and delicious but use natural, unprocessed ingredients to create the healthiest meals.
Some of our favourite female chefs take to the stage for the second half of this year’s Cheltenham Literature Festival. On Friday the 13th October, Thomasina Miers guides us through her journey into restaurant-chain domination, Wahaca. Guests will be treated to a delicious three course meal bursting with imagination, big flavours and personality. This year has also seen the release of Miers’ new cook book Home Cook, showing you that home cooking is all about having fun with great ingredients and enjoying food any day of the week. This cook book is an absolute must have and a great source of inspiration, whatever the occasion. The next highly anticipated event on the 14th October sees the champion of home cooking, Nigella Lawson discussing her latest collection of recipes At My Table. Laden with mouth watering and inventive dishes that have been created to bring happiness and joy around a shared table. The last few years have been turbulent for Lawson to say the least so we’re thrilled to see her back, stronger than ever and doing what she does best. Last but certainly not least, A Nigerian Night on Saturday the 14th October with The Scent of Hibiscus and Lope Ariyo. Join the rising star of African cooking for an incredible evening of mouthwateringly fresh flavours and delicious dishes from her new book Hibiscus. In an evening celebrating the very best of Nigerian cooking, all senses will be entertained with additional performances by JJ Bola and Chibundu Onuzo.
If all these food discussions leave you feeling hungry, why not check out our favourite restaurants in Cheltenham
For The Literary Enthusiasts
We were surprised to see not as many fiction writers at the Cheltenham Literature Festival this year but for those that are confirmed, we’re happy to see some major literary hard hitters. Celebrating thirty years since The Commitments, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha author Roddy Doyle takes to the Garden Theatre on Saturday 7th October to introduce his highly anticipated new novel, Smile. It is a welcome return for the Booker Prize winning author and his new work is set to be a haunting depiction about the uncertainty of memory and how we contend with the past. If you are unable to attend this or just happen to be a die-hard Doyle fan, you can also join him in the Hotel Du Vin at 3.30pm that same day to raise a glass to mark the 30th anniversary of his original and iconic novel The Commitments and celebrate the author’s many literary achievements to date. The next not-to-be missed event on the 7th October is Salman Rushdie’s talk about his new work, The Golden House. The controversial and critically acclaimed author of The Satanic Verses and Midnight’s Children sets his new compelling novel in Manhattan, spinning the story of the American zeitgeist over the last eight years. He discusses identity, terror and alternative truths with journalist Alex Clarke in what is set to be one of the literary events of the festival. We are thrilled to see that Alan Hollinghurst is also set to attend the festival this year. On Sunday 8th October, the best selling and Man Booker Prize author introduces his new novel, The Sparsholt Affair. After releasing such monumental works such as The Line of Beauty and The Stranger’s Child, Hollinghurst’s new novel is an exploration of shifting taste, class and human interation – characteristically witty, tender and rich in observation this conversation with The Times Literary Editor Robbie Millen is an absolute must see. Like Doyle, you can join Hollinghurst in The Nook later that day to raise a glass to his decade-defining masterpiece The Line of Beauty about class, politics and sexuality in Margaret Thatcher’s Britain.
The second half of the festival sees some female modern fiction writers in discussion that shouldn’t be missed. On Sunday 8th October Waterstone’s sponsers the Maggie O’Farrell event at the Garden Theatre. O’Farrell is The Sunday Times bestselling and Costa Novel award-winning author of This Must be the Place. Joined by Cath Rentzenbrink, she is set to discuss I Am, I Am, I Am, the eclectic and often shocking memoir about the near death experiences that have punctuated her own life. On the 11th October, Rachel Joyce and Sarah Winman, two best selling novelists discuss their heartwarming and beautiful new works and the creation of enduring characters. Author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Joyce’s new work The Music Shop is about learning to listen, learning to feel and choosing to be brave despite the odds. Known for When God Was a Rabbit, Sarah Winman’s Tin Man is a love letter to human kindness and friendship, loss and living. The joining of these two writers in conversation is sure to be a highlight of the festival and guaranteed to go further than promotion of their new works.
Our last suggestion is less literary fiction and more of a celebration and insight into one of our most treasured authors, Sylvia Plath. Literary critic Erica Wagner and Clare Pollard join Faber Poetry Editor Matthew Hollis to discuss the landmark publication of Volume One of The Letters of Sylvia Plath. With correspondence spanning 1940-1956, the letters follow Plath’s adolescence, her successful but turbulent undergraduate years at Smith College; the move to England and Cambridge University and her meeting and marrying Ted Hughes. The analysis and discussion of the letters will demonstrate Plath’s extraordinary literary development, including the genius of some of her most-admired poems.
For the Art Aficionados
The diversity of the line-up is what makes the Cheltenham Literature Festival so unique – there is something for everyone. Quite unexpectedly, Andrew Marr attends the festival this year under a different guise, that of the artist. After learning to cope with the changes incurred after his stroke in 2013, Marr draws on his experience of learning to paint again. In this early festival event, he tackles the the subjects of inspiration, creativity, politics, beauty and form and how creativity and learning can often enable us to cope. Marr discusses how an artist makes good work as what exactly constitutes good art with Tim Hubbard on the 6th October. On the same day, BBC Arts editor William Compertz chairs a discussion about Banksy and The Street Art Revolution with Banksy’s former manager and urban art dealer Steve Lazarides, curator and author of Lonely Planet Street Art Ed Bartlett and Bristol 24/7 Culture Editor Steve Wright. The group discuss how the still-anonymous Bristol boy whole blend of art and activism has reached all corners of the globe. The following day on the 7th October, The Cheltenham Ladies College sponsor Tracey Emin And The YBAs in the recently constructed Parabola Arts Centre. The Young British Artists stormed onto the contemporary art scene in 1988 with their attention-grabbing, iconic art, exploding art-world conventions everywhere and ushering in one of the most thrilling periods in British art. Elizabeth Fullerton and Jonathan Jones talk to BBC Arts Editor Will Gompertz about an electrifying era of unmade beds and formaldehyde sharks.
Other artistic highlights from the festival include Hockney at 80: From Yorkshire to California on the 7th October. From bright blue pools in LA to rolling Yorkshire landscapes, Will Gompertz takes a look back at the extraordinary career of David Hockney in his 80th year. In this beautifully illustrated event, Tate head of Displays curator (who curated this year’s record breaking Hockney exhibition) Chris Stevens and filmmaker Bruno Wollheim, who had unprecedented access to Hockney for the documentary A Bigger Picture cast an expert eye over the life and work of one of Britain’s leading creative icons. Another must-see event for art enthusiasts is also chaired by Will Gompertz who is joined by art historian David Boyd Haycock to discuss Paul Nash: Visions of War on Thursday 12th October. Nash was famously quoted for saying “I am no longer an artists, I am a messenger to those who want the war to go on forever…and may it burn their lousy souls forever”. Nash’s haunting depictions of the battlefield brought home to a nation the true horrors of war and changed the course of landscape painting forever. This talk is sure to be as rich in it’s historic debate as well as it’s artistic one and an absolute go-to for any one with interest and passion for both. Last but certainly not least, the Blake and the Romantics talk on Thursday 12th October at the Ink Pot is another event that will feed all artistic, historic and literary interests. Poet, painter, engraver and visionary, Blake was considered mad by his peers and largely disregarded at the time of his death. Blake’s contribution to the British cultural landscape now goes unquestioned. Take a closer look at the artist who gave us Jerusalem, key illustrations of Milton and Dante and the remarkable Songs of Innocence and Experience.
For the Political and Historical Junkies
You could easily attend the Cheltenham Literature Festival for the full ten days for the mass of political and historical debates taking place alone and this year is sure to be more rich and complex in interesting and topical debates than ever before. Wet you’r appetite on Friday 6th October and join The Times Forum for The Europe we are Leaving hosted by Guest Director Robin Niblett of Chatham House. Bringing together an expert panel to cast a knowledgeable eye over the European political scene to question whether Spain want a different Brexit from Poland or France from Germany? In the midst of the Brexit negotiations, this discussion will broaden your awareness of the real effects of Britain’s leaving the EU, on the much wider European scale. Then, mentally prepare yourself for 260 Days of Trump on Saturday 7th October in The Times Forum. On 9th November 2016 we woke to news that a billionaire and former reality TV star would soon be one of the most powerful man in the world and gatekeeper of the White House . As Donald’s Trump’s presidency approaches its 1st anniversary, the panel reflects on an extraordinary year in Washington and the wider USA. The lingering question still remains, what will Trump do next? The Sunday Times columnist Adam Boulton, Sarah Baxter & Jon Sopel make an educated guess. Also on Saturday you can catch up with The Election Generals. Political sages Peter Hennessy and John Sergent take a witty and irreverent look at the the latest headlines for a bit of light relief as they map the twists and turns of what has been another extraordinary year for British politics. On Sunday the 8th, Brexit over brunch with Brexit Britain on The Global Stage with more Trump for lunch at Making America Great Again? Foreign Policy Under Trump.
Whatever you decide to attend this October, Beachspoke can help make your trip as easy and straight forward as possible. Also be sure to check out our recommended restaurants in Cheltenham to make the most of your day at the festival. For any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org.