An unmissable autumn highlight, this year’s pioneering hybrid Festival – combining digital and in-person events – features a unique line-up of the world’s greatest writers, thinkers, performers and dynamic new voices. From 2 – 11 October, the Festival will include over 160 events with over 100 broadcast live from Cheltenham’s Town Hall and the Everyman Theatre in front of a socially-distanced live audience.

The Festival programming team – joined by Guest Curators British-Turkish novelist Elif Shafak and Dishoom’s Shamil Thakrar – have pulled out all the stops to celebrate what is set to be an astonishing season of publishing. The line-up offers something for every book-lover, featuring literary greats and fresh talent, travel and adventure, food and drink, lifestyle and psychology, history and science, art and classic literature, alongside a powerful collection of current affairs events drawing in expert insight from the Festival’s title partner The Times and The Sunday Times, with over 24 journalists and columnists from the two papers featuring in the programme.

New for 2020, the Festival will present ‘The Citizen’s Manifesto’, bringing together young activists, politicians and key thinkers with the Festival audience to shine a political, social, economic and cultural light on a year like no other, exploring the ways in which society could and should change in the wake of COVID-19. The audience will be invited to suggest ideas for panellists to discuss on stage and visit the digital Pledge Wall to make a promise to their future self.

Even with world travel restricted, the programme won’t lose its international flavour, with a dedicated series of exclusive interviews with leading writers filmed at home entitled The World is Waiting. Providing an insight into writers’ lives in lockdown and a glimpse into the literary culture of Japan, Australia, Nigeria, the US and more, audiences can hear intimate conversations with writers such as Marilynne Robinson, Sayaka Murata, Tayari Jones, Akwaeke Emezi and Miles Franklin Award-winner Tara June Winch. The World is Waiting will form part of the Festival programme selection set to be broadcast by Official Streaming Partner Marquee TV.

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