The world’s oldest literary festival returned the Cheltenham for a celebration of the written and spoken word. The annual line-up has evolved through the years, welcoming figures from music, politics and heroes from the sporting world.
The festival was founded in 1949 and since has turned into a national festival that attracts book lovers from far and wide. The grounds of Imperial Gardens and Montpellier saw festival goers soak up the entertainment on offer from free acoustic performances to bars with local food company produce to try.
If you weren’t able to get to any of the events this year, here are our top 5 picks of events that shone through the 10-day festival:
Children sat in awe of Youtube gaming expert Dan TDM in a talk that inspired the youngest of gamers. The sold out event had to be moved from the Waterstones tent to the Town Hall with tickets selling out in minutes.
His warming personality engaged even the most tech-phobic of parents, explaining how his career expanded through self motivation and the love of the industry.
Having loved figures who are accessible on multiple platforms have proven popular at the literature festival, drawing in audiences into the prestigous event.
TDM seemed comfortable throughout, which is unsurprising as he attracts over 31 million viewers online. He is currently touring the UK on his sold out tour.
Jeremy Paxman swapped roles on Saturday as he was interviewee in the firing line. The Lit Fest audience had an insight into Paxman’s time presenting Newsnight, after leaving the role in 2014. The journalist also commented about future roles, and admitted he would live to grab David Dimbleby’s job on Question Time, but not just yet.
Paxman reflected on his personal view of his infamous interviewing technique, admitting there have been occasions where he was left wondering if he had “missed the point” when tackling a topic.
Through this interview, there was a side to Paxman that showed his reminiscent nature. If audiences were expecting to see the typhoon that is Paxman in the frontline of journalistic questioning, the ticket holders got Paxman on a human level in a conversation that narrated through his career and what is yet to come.
Akala has paved his way through the literary and music scene through his hip-hop following and poetry excellence. His works often follow the theme of social commentary of culture in Britain.
His appearance at this years festival follows his weekly Youtube series titled Great Reads, where Akala gives his opinion on what books he’d recommend for his audiences.
Akala isn’t a stranger to talking in public, often performing at festivals and university appearances educating and entertaining through rap. His chat boasted passion and urgency when addressing the current political climate.
Owen Jones is rapidly becoming recognised in journalism for his opinion pieces as a democratic socialist. When Cheltenham Lit Fest penned in the diary that Jones would be interviewing former England footballer Joey Barton, the excitement mounted quickly.
His autobiography ‘No Nonsense’ was aptly named for the proceedings, unsurprisingly. Barton freely illustrated his feeling toward the current state of the England team, stating,
“We go to major tournaments and just seem to want to get home with reputations intact and until that is addressed I can’t see us winning anything.”
The pair spoke about Barton’s past of violence and his social stance with regards to his background. What became apparent in the interview is how Barton has calmed as a person and speaks in a frank nature. Even when challenged on topics that once may have created hostility (being jailed for assault), Barton proved all to be reflective upon even the low points of his career.
Fashion maven Vivienne Westwood took to the seat on Sunday afternoon, where she talked the punk era, American politics and parenthood. Westwood spoke with Kirsty Wark about her latest book ‘Get A Life’, a diary that originated online but since has developed into a print with thoughts spanning from 2010 to present day.
“Don’t become a mother if you don’t have time for them”: these words of wisdom that remained with the audience was Westwood’s insight into her childhood and her relationship with her mother.
Her no-nonsence approach to life is expressed with her diversity of topic, remaining expectedly controversial. Although being in the company of Westwood was a pleasure, it became clear that the majority of the audience wished for a little more insight into her latest clothing collection rather than her views on Clinton.
With the festival progressively becoming star-studded, one question remains: are the books still the fire behind the schedule? The Waterstone’s bookshop had a constant hum of families, couples and students milling around eager to grab a signed copy by their favourite author.
So with this top 5 picks in mind, be sure to keep an eye-out for the latest literary greats to come and visit the Cotswolds.