Family Names

Robin Stevens, Kieran Larwood, Connie Glynn, Helen Skelton, Dougie Poynter, Malorie Blackman, Dermot O'Leary

70th Anniversary Family Fun for Toddlers to Teens at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

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The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival is delighted to announce the action-packed Family Programme for the 70th anniversary instalment of the world’s oldest literature festival, brimming with a fantastic array of illustrators, authors and poets who are set to inspire and entertain toddlers to teens.

From 4 – 13 October, Regency Cheltenham’s stunning Montpellier Gardens will be transformed with thousands of booklovers descending for ten days of literary celebration. The Festival Village will be packed with free family activities, including storytelling sessions, arts and crafts, workshops, story trails and anniversary celebrations for the most beloved literary sensations.

Highlights include…

Legendary author Malorie Blackman on her highly anticipated new Noughts & Crosses novel, X Factor and BBC Radio 2 presenter Dermot O’Leary and illustrator Nick East with the latest escapades of Toto the Ninja Cat, Cressida Cowell and wizards, warriors, mythical creatures and powerful magic, plus Chris Riddell will invite the Cheltenham audience into the stunning, fantastical world behind his brand new series, Cloud Horse Chronicles.

Guest Curator and author of the bestselling Murder Most Unladylike series Robin Stevens presents a series of mystery events for all young crime enthusiasts, revealing the people and places from her Cheltenham school days that inspired her books. Joining Robin with even more crime capers will be Sharna Jackson sharing writing tips, Sophie Johnson showing what it takes to be a great detective, Tracey Corderoy and Helen Lipscombe revealing their favourite mystery tales, and Laura James and illustrator Emily Fox will introduce Fabio, The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective.

The Festival Village will be packed with hilariously horrid fun courtesy of Francesca Simon and Horrid Henry, the rumbustious Danny Wallace, Jamie Littler and Hamish, a ten-year-old with a knack for saving the world, plus there is adventure galore from the likes of world-record breaker Helen Skelton, the extraordinary new novel Bone Talk from Candy Gourlay, and Teddy Keen unveiling secrets of the Amazon jungle with artefacts and spine tingling stories.

McFly popstar Dougie Poynter will be explaining why young people are key to solving the world’s environmental issues, broadcaster Konnie Huq will share her brand new science-obsessed series, YouTube sensation Connie Glynn is bringing the third instalment in the Rosewood Chronicles, and there will be a feast of rhyme, rhythm, rap and randomness from the dynamic performance poet Joshua Seigal and leading spoken word show Tongue Fu.

Multi-award winning duo Kes Gray and Jim Field will introduce Oi Puppies! with storytelling fun, live drawing and very silly rhymes, there will be pirate adventures with Jonny Duddle, an all-dancing trip into the jungle with author Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees, a mesmerising performance from Atinuke, and award-winning duo author Steven Butler and illustrator Steven Lenton, will open the doors to the Nothing to See Here Hotel, the number one destination for magical creatures.


The full Festival line-up will be announced on Friday 16 August at
Booking for the Literature Festival opens to Cheltenham Festivals Members online at 10am on Wednesday 28 August and general booking opens online at 10am on Wednesday 4 September.

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Elmer creator David McKee will be celebrating the 30th birthday of the much-loved patchwork elephant as he reflects on his remarkable career and invites Festival goers to explore the Elmer and Friends Trail across Cheltenham. Other anniversaries being celebrated at this year’s Festival include the 20th year of That’s not my… with a magical rainbow birthday party for hero Puppy, a crafting session for the 50th birthday of Eric Carle’s world-famous Very Hungry Caterpillar, and a Secret Seven Mystery Trail marking 70 years of the world’s favourite detective club.

Pages & Co author Anna James and actor Adam Collier will be hosting the Festival’s first ever Big Family Book Quiz to test book knowledge, creativity and nonsense know-how, plus Fleurble Laffalot is hosting a family friendly journey through the magical world of Harry Potter.

There will be plenty of historical wonders in Montpellier Gardens, with time travelling authors Emma Carroll, Hilary McKay and Lucy Strange sharing their passion for peeking into the past, Mr Dilly giving a glimpse into life as an ancient Egyptian mummy, and comic artist Joe Todd-Stanton travelling back in time to the Vikings and ancient China.

Fantasy fans will be treated to Rachel Burge, Frances Hardinge and Steve Feasey as they reveal how they create their imagined worlds, Blue Peter award-winning author Kieran Larwood will share the inspiration behind his fearsome warrior rabbits, and Sophie Anderson will be telling tales of magic and belonging.

There will be storytelling galore for little ones with an adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s much loved I Believe in Unicorns, mouse mask-making and more with author-illustrator Lucy Freegard, this year’s brochure illustrator Tim Hopgood, and everyone’s favourite little dog Kipper.

Aspiring artists can learn tips and tricks for adding drama to drawings from author-illustrator Pam Smy, there will be workshops from the likes of John Dougherty, Robin Ehterington, Emma Carroll as well as top tips on everything from fairy-tale animation, plasticine stop motion and detective movie making.

For older readers, Juno Dawson will be discussing her new anthology Proud with contributors, poet Dean Atta, illustrator David Roberts and new author Karen Lawler. Poet and activist Matt Abbott will showcase powerful poems of identity, rebellion, friendship, love and technology, plus even more from Laura Bates, Holly Bourne and Jenny Downham.