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Plan Your Visit

Following the recent Government announcement and further lifting of restrictions, we are delighted to welcome a reduced indoor live audience into our venues for the 2021 Science Festival where we will be professionally filming events for live broadcast.

To be part of this exciting new way of producing live events we have put in place a series of COVID-19 measures to ensure the health and wellbeing of our audiences, participants, staff, and volunteers. We ask all our prospective ticket buyers to read the following measures carefully before making their ticket purchases so that they are fully aware of what to expect when attending an event at this year’s Festival.

What we are doing to protect you

Socially distanced seating

Seating within venues has been laid out in accordance with social distance guidelines, as a result it is necessary for seats to be configured and sold as pairs or singles only. This has significantly reduced the capacity of each venue to about 30%, so tickets for events are likely to sell out quickly. In the event that there are only pairs of seats left for an event, both seats must be purchased at full price. Don’t be disappointed as a livestream of events can all be viewed online for FREE on our YouTube Channel.

Tickets available online only

To minimise the number of people at the venues to keep you and our staff safe, there will be no onsite and venue based pop-up box offices. Please book your tickets online before you leave home.

Tickets will come off sale 90 minutes before each event, this is to ensure that the ticket buyer receives all the necessary COVID-19 safety information before attending the event.

Select Your Own Seat

Tickets to this year’s Literature Festival are being sold online only from our website. For your peace of mind, you will be able to choose which seats you purchase using our interactive seating plan. Although it may take you a little longer to book your tickets, we hope that this will give you reassurance and confidence, knowing that you are socially distanced from other audience members.

Click here for our guide on selecting your own seat

Increased cleaning

All areas within the venue, including toilets, will be cleaned and sanitised between events for each new audience.

Contactless admission to events

As part of our COVID-19 measures, we will be issuing e-tickets only. Please make sure you have a printout of the ticket or have it available to view by our staff on a mobile device as you enter the venue to speed the entry process. For further details see Receiving Your Ticket

If for any reason you are not arriving with other people in your party please ensure that they have a copy of the e-ticket as they will not be admitted without it.

Protection for our staff

Our staff have been issued with and will be wearing face coverings.

Closing of cloakrooms

The venue cloakrooms will be closed so please travel light and leave any large bags and umbrellas at home. We recommend bringing a carrier bag with you for your umbrella if the weather is inclement. For security, we ask you to keep your belongings with you at all times. Unattended items may be removed and destroyed.

Test and Trace

At the point of purchase, and following government guidelines, we will be logging the contact details of the person in your party who has made the ticket purchase. This is for the purposes of Test and Trace.

What you can do

To ensure that everyone remains safe at this year’s The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival please follow this guide.

Stay at home if you feel unwell

Please do NOT attend the Festival if:

  • You or anyone you live with displays symptoms associated with COVID-19
  • You have recently been in contact with someone who has developed COVID-19
  • You have recently travelled to a country where you are required to quarantine
  • You are travelling from an area where local lockdown rules have been put in place.

Maintain social distancing

Once you arrive at your venue please look out for ‘social distancing’ signs on the floors to keep you safe while queuing and while moving around the venue spaces.

Wear face coverings

Please bring a face covering with you. In line with Government guidelines, they must be worn whilst queuing for admission to the venue, for the duration of the event and remain in place until you leave the building.

We recognise that some audience members will be exempt. Our staff may approach you to remind you to wear a mask if you are not wearing one, please be patient with them if they ask, as they are following instructions from our pre-event briefings and training. We also ask all audience members to be understanding of others, as not all exemptions are visible.

Use our hand sanitiser stations

We have positioned hand sanitiser stations throughout the venues for you to use.

Be patient with our staff

They are there to ensure that everyone remains safe and has an excellent experience at the Festival so please adhere to any requests they make.

Arrive in plenty of time

In order to manage audiences safely into each of our venues, we ask that you arrive at the following times:

For events at the Town Hall

  • Please arrive 30 minutes before the event.
    Entrance is via the main entrance at the front of the venue. It will not be possible to enter the Town Hall via the rear of the building.

Please expect that you may have to queue outside the venue for a short period of time before you enter, so please come prepared with an umbrella / raincoat in case of inclement weather.


Owing to the live broadcast and COVID-19 measures we are not able to accommodate latecomers. You will not be able to take your seat within the venue and will be politely turned away by our venue and Festival staff.

Ensure you bring your e-ticket

As part of our COVID-19 measures, we will be issuing e-tickets only. Please make sure you have a print out of the ticket or that it will be available to view by our staff on a mobile device you are bringing with you.

If for any reason you are not arriving with other people in your party please ensure that they have a copy of the e-ticket as they will not be admitted without it.

Other important information


Toilets will be available at all our venues although with limited capacity. Please follow the signs and maintain social distancing at all times.

Book signings

Unfortunately, owing to COVID-19, there will be no live signings of books by speakers, however, for the majority of the events where books are available our speakers will have pre-signed a number of books to be purchased in the bookshop after the event.

Waterstones Bookshops

Waterstones will be running ‘pop up’ bookshops in the Town Hall and in the Everyman Theatre. These ‘pop up’ bookshops are for ticket holders only and available to event audiences either just before or immediately following their event. It will not be possible to enter a ‘pop up’ bookshop at any other time throughout the Festival. Full COVID-19 safety measures will be in place within the ‘pop up’ bookshops

Book and ticket events

Books will be issued at the venue.

Exiting the venues

When an event ends you will be asked to leave promptly. Our venue and Festival staff will be available to guide you out of the venue via the designated route in order to keep you safe.

Exit instructions will be delivered in one of three ways: electronically on the screens in the venues, over the tannoy, or by following the appropriate signage and instruction of staff on the ground.

Filming of Events

Please remember all our events are being professionally filmed for live broadcast, this may include wide shots of the live audience, by purchasing tickets you agree to be filmed in this way.

Format of Events

The format of the events will remain the same, each event will run for approximately 45 minutes followed by a Q&A session. Questions will be taken from the audience, both digitally and live.