The world’s longest-running literature festival, with a history spanning more than seven decades, The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival continues to break new ground with a programme featuring the world’s foremost writers, thinkers and performers.

From Friday, October 6 to Sunday, October 15, 2023, the festival will offer visitors the opportunity to take the pulse of contemporary culture, hosting thought-provoking discussions and exploration of emerging trends across politics, culture and lifestyle. With a programme of 500+ events, encompassing art and design, classic literature, current affairs, fiction, poetry and spoken word, history, memoir, food and drink and more, the Cheltenham Festivals team have shared their picks from this year’s must-see line-up.


Great British Life: Richard Osman. Photo: Conor O'LearyRichard Osman. Photo: Conor O'Leary

As well as playing host to a striking number of leading authors across all genres, the festival is – as ever – a place to discover new talent and emerging voices. Proof parties introduce audiences to upcoming novelists before they are published, and events dedicated to the best in new fiction, non-fiction, and translated fiction will include the likes of Rachel Joyce, Anne Enright and Mick Herron.

Kate Atkinson with Richard Osman – Saturday, October 7, 12-1pm

Praised by the late Hilary Mantel as ‘inexhaustibly ingenious’, Kate Atkinson has sold over 4 million books globally, won major literary prizes and had her work adapted for television. She returns to Cheltenham to discuss her esteemed career and new collection of stories Normal Rules Don’t Apply in conversation with long-term fan and fellow author Richard Osman.

‘Kate Atkinson is one of the world’s foremost novelists. As Richard Osman is a genuine fan of her work, we’re sure this will make for an interesting and insightful conversation!’ – Sarah Cooksley

Ian McEwan Revisits Atonement – Monday, October 9, 5:30-6:30pm

On the hottest day of 1934, a 13-year-old’s misunderstanding sets in motion a chain of events that will alter the course of three people’s lives, and for which she will spend her whole life trying to atone. Critical acclaim, record sales and an Oscar-nominated film made Ian McEwan’s 2001 novel Atonement a publishing phenomenon. He revisits it with Clare Clark.

‘Twenty-two years after it was first published, Ian McEwan joins us to revisit his remarkable novel Atonement. Don’t miss the opportunity to delve back between the pages of this one.’ – Sarah Cooksley

The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence: Zadie Smith – Friday, October 13, 8:30-9:30pm

Joining an elite list of winners that includes Martin Amis, Margaret Atwood and Kazuo Ishiguro, Zadie Smith receives The Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence 2023. From acclaimed novels including White Teeth, On Beauty and NW to essays, short stories and the play, The Wife of Willesden, she discusses her illustrious writing career and new novel, The Fraud with Caleb Azumah Nelson. 

‘We are delighted to be hosting this award event recognising Zadie Smith as one of the most influential writers of today.’ – Sarah Cooksley


Great British Life: Rethinking the World: Nandini DasRethinking the World: Nandini Das

Returning for 2023 is the festival’s Read the World theme, which has been spotlighting international literature at Cheltenham since 2021, offering visitors a passport to global voices and ideas. Influences from Ghana, Ireland, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Spain, Taiwan and more will be present in Cheltenham this year.

Rethinking the World with Peter Frankopan – Friday, October 6, 12-1pm

Festival guest curator, Peter Frankopan, introduces his pick of new writing that reframes our understanding of the world. In Courting India, Nandini Das offers a radical challenge to the narrative of Britain’s early empire. In The New China Playbook, world-renowned economist Keyu Jin offers an insider’s perspective of the people, culture and history of China to explain its economic success story.

‘A chance to hear from two of the most exciting new voices in non-fiction this year.’ – Sophie Hoult

Rebel Rebel: Soheila Sokhanvari – Tuesday, October 10, 6:30-7:30pm

Iranian-born artist Soheila Sokhanvari’s powerful and intricate work weaves layers of political histories with mysterious narratives. Her latest show, Rebel Rebel, focused on pioneering women from pre-revolutionary Iran who pursued careers in a culture enamoured with Western style, but not its freedoms. As protests around women’s rights continue to shake contemporary Iran, Soheila talks to writer Ben Platts-Mills about her work.  

‘Soheila’s work is delicate, powerful and timely. This event presents an opportunity to hear an intimate conversation with one of our great living artists.’ – Emma Whittle

Between Two Islands – Friday, October 6, 6-7pm

‘I’m black, so you don’t have to be,’ Colin Grant’s uncle Castus would tell him. Through portraits of his Windrush generation family, Colin explores the British-Caribbean experience. Jacqueline Crook’s acclaimed debut, Fire Rush, tells a story of Black womanhood rooted in the dub reggae scene of the eighties. They discuss patois, dancehall, generational change and Britain’s multilayered history.

‘With respected historian and memoirist Colin Grant alongside Jacqueline Crook, who released one of the most triumphant debuts of 2023, this event will offer a fascinating insight into the history and experiences of British Caribbean communities.’ – Sophie Hoult


Great British Life: Lit Crawl. Photo: cheltenhamfestivals.comLit Crawl. Photo:

Hosted by arts charity Cheltenham Festivals, the Literature Festival champions local talent and venues within their programme, as well as welcoming a variety of world-renowned names and exclusive opportunities for audiences in the festival town. From unique events exploring the town’s favourite venues, to sneak peeks of upcoming exhibitions and book launches, Cheltenham is the place to be for exciting literature and beyond this October.

Cheltenham Bookshop Crawl – Saturday, October 7, 3:30-6pm

Join fellow book lovers on a walking tour of Cheltenham’s bookshops. Get an exclusive look at Cheltenham’s rarest books, find out what’s it like to run to an Indie bookshop, and delve into the treasure troves of secondhand shelves. Hear from booksellers as they share their recommendations and give you a sneak peek behind the scenes.

Lit Crawl – Saturday, October 7, 6pm-Late

Taking over the venues and streets of Cheltenham for a riotous night of storytelling, comedy and performance – this year’s lit crawl has so much to offer. From comedian Josie Long to spoken word curated by the Cheltenham Poetry Festival and an interactive murder mystery at Hotel du Vin, drop in for one session or crawl your way through the whole evening completely free of charge.

‘If you want to make the most of your time in Cheltenham and see what the festival town has to offer, the Bookshop and Lit Crawls are perfect!’ – Ellie Petrie

Burma and Myanmar: People, Art, Empire – Thursday, October 12, 4-5pm

Although known internationally for its two names and long-running civil wars, Burma/Myanmar is a compelling and complex country. Through an array of art and objects, from ceramic tablets to stunning textiles, curator Alexandra Green and historian Mandy Sadan invite us to reconsider how we think about this fascinating country and give a preview of a major British Museum exhibition opening November 2023.

‘A truly unique part of our programme. We’re honoured to be giving Cheltenham audiences the exclusive opportunity to preview a brand new exhibition from the prestigious British Museum before it opens to the public.’ – Emma Whittle


Great British Life: David Mitchell returns to the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2023David Mitchell returns to the Cheltenham Literature Festival in 2023 (Image:

Across the programme, visitors can enjoy pop-up culinary adventures including events at The Daffodil, Cheltenham’s iconic food and lifestyle destination housed in an Art Deco former cinema. Visitors can also spend their evenings with familiar faces such as Adrian Edmondson, Richard E. Grant and Shaparak Khorsandi, test their general knowledge with a quiz from the QI Elves and even get spooky with a Gothic Cabaret.

David Mitchell – Saturday, October 7, 7-8pm

Comedian and student of history David Mitchell presents Unruly, his exuberant history of England’s earliest kings and queens. From King Arthur to Elizabeth I, this is a tale of narcissists, middle-management insurrection, uncivil wars and at least one total Cnut. He tells Hannah MacInnes how the monarchy came to be, why it matters in the 21st century – and who is to blame.

‘David Mitchell is one of our favourite comedians. Audiences are sure to be entertained with some seriously funny, seriously clever history’ – Sophie Hoult

Andi Oliver’s Caribbean – Friday, October 13, 7-10pm

Caribbean cooking is the cooking of 700 islands, each bringing their own flavour to the plate. TV chef Andi Oliver reveals the melting pot of cultural influences, history and heritage that has uniquely shaped its cuisine. Over a vibrant dinner inspired by The Pepperpot Diaries, she chats with daughter Miquita Oliver about their Caribbean travels and reconnecting with their Antiguan roots.  

‘A brilliant night out with a dream dinner party duo. Expect great conversation, lots of laughter and a delicious dinner.’ – Sophie Hoult

The Suya Kitchen – Saturday, October 7, 7-10pm

Journey into the rich, vibrant world of Nigeria’s food, music and poetry. Feasting on West African street food Suya, poet, playwright and performer Inua Ellams is joined by restaurant critic and author Jimi Famurewa as they weave together a beautiful and complex portrait of Nigeria.

‘It’s wonderful to be welcoming former guest curator, Inua Ellams, back to the festival. We’re huge fans of Nigerian street food, Suya, and can’t wait for it to come to Cheltenham!’ – Ellie Petrie


Great British Life: There is fun for all the family at the festival villageThere is fun for all the family at the festival village (Image:

The lively Festival village, in Cheltenham’s Montpellier Gardens, is the perfect setting for a family day out, with a bumper programme of events. It features the greatest storytellers and illustrators, sure to inspire a love of reading in children of all ages and stages, including Jacqueline Wilson, David Walliams, Sophie Dahl, Dr Ranj, Maddie Moate and many more.

The Wild Wood – Friday, October 6-Sunday, October 15, from 10am

As well as weekends packed full of ticketed events for children, there's plenty of free activities to discover on site across all 10 days. The Wild Wood features walk-about performances, arts and crafts, storytellers, a picnic tent, literary trails, bookshop and more! The Wild Wood is open from 10am daily for the duration of the festival and all activities are free of charge.

‘These activities are curated to feed curious young minds and spark imagination. For families who have never been to the festival before, it’s an easy place to turn up and join in! For families booking our ticketed events, it’s a great place to make a day of it at no extra cost.’ – Loraine Evans

The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival 2023 runs October 6-15. Tickets are on sale now. To view the full programme and book tickets visit

Great British Life: Judy Murray. Photo: Sane Seven PhotographyJudy Murray. Photo: Sane Seven Photography

Judy Murray has enjoyed a successful tennis career as a player and coach, while also being mum to tennis champions Andy and Jamie. On Monday, October 9, Judy will appear at The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival to discuss her debut novel, The Wild Card. It follows the journey of Abigail Patterson a junior prodigy who is forced to quit the game in her late teens and makes an unexpectedly successful comeback 20 years later as a wild card into the qualifying event for Wimbledon. As she prepares to fulfil her childhood dream of playing on centre court, she realises that being catapulted into the public eye will undoubtedly lead to the exposure of a secret she has kept hidden for many years.

‘I’m so looking forward to coming back to the magnificent Cheltenham Literature Festival and introducing my debut novel The Wild Card,’ says Judy. ‘It’s a tale of triumph over adversity and a reminder that it’s never too late to follow your dreams. But it also gave me an opportunity to share lots of ‘behind the scenes’ detail from my 30 or so years in travelling the international tennis circuit and to raise awareness of some of the challenges that still exist for women and girls in sport.’

‘Funny, intelligent and hugely articulate, we can’t wait to talk to Judy Murray about her first novel, and of course to hear all about the highs and lows of life in the world of tennis.’ – Jo James, Cheltenham Festivals