Cheltenham Literature Festival
The world’s first literature festival has been leading the way ever since it launched in 1949. This year is no different. Get ready for an extravaganza of the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and big-name speakers. Hot tickets include Stanley Tucci on his book Taste, master storyteller Ian McEwan on how global events shape our lives and Emma Freud in conversation with star baker Mary Berry. There are plenty of free events, too, from the Lit Crawl with its pop-ups and quirky happenings across town to VOICEBOX in Montpelier Gardens where young people can thrash out this year’s hottest issues.
7th-16th October. Various venues across Cheltenham. 01242 850270; www.cheltenhamfestivals.com
Girl from The North Country at Everyman Theatre
‘Magnificent’ (Evening Standard), ‘astonishing’ (The Guardian) and ‘piercingly beautiful’ (The Independent) is just some of the praise which Girl from the North Country has received. And now this double Olivier and Tony award-winning West End and Broadway smash-hit is touring the UK for the first time. The production is penned by celebrated playwright Conor McPherson, who has boldly reimagined the legendary songs of Bob Dylan. Set in 1934 in the heartland of America, it’s a heart-breaking and universal story about family and love, following a group of wayward souls who are each trying to work out their future while hiding from their past.
25th-29th October. The Everyman Theatre, Regent Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1HQ. 01242 572573; www.everymantheatre.org.uk
Levison Wood: The Art of Exploration at Cheltenham Town Hall
Author and explorer Levison Wood has plenty to talk about as he takes to the stage for his UK tour: The Art of Exploration. In an entertaining two-hour one-man show, Levison shares his experiences from a lifetime of travel, from his army career and the front lines of Afghanistan to his photo-journalism assignments in the Congo and Nepal, as well as world-renowned expeditions through extreme environments, including the Nile, Himalayas and the Arabian Peninsula. Alongside the thrilling stories, he will also reveal the lessons he has learnt on the road and how we can all benefit from applying the philosophy of travel to our day-to-day lives.
22nd October. Cheltenham Town Hall, Imperial Square, Cheltenham, GL50 1QA. 01242 528764; www.cheltenhamtownhall.org.uk
Harvest Barn Dance at Dunkertons Cider
Dust off your dancing shoes and don your cowboy hat for Dunkertons Cider’s Harvest Barn Dance. With live music and a caller plus a prize for the best dressed, it’s set to be a great evening of fun and fabulosity – all accompanied by a pint or two of Dunkertons’ award-winning ciders alongside a range of other alcoholic drinks and soft drinks at the Taproom Bar. There will be plenty of delicious food, too, – choose between The Sourdough Pizza Company, Americana-style cuisine at its finest from Ronnie’s Ribshack and The Bombay Street Food Company, which offers mouth-watering dishes, including many vegan options
21st October. Dunkertons Cider, London Road, Cheltenham, GL52 6UT. 01242 650145; www.dunkertonscider.co.uk
Three of the Best Half Term Adventures
Pumpkin Picking at Cotswolds Farm Park
It’s that time of year again. And whether you are into Halloween or not – the fun of pumpkin picking is hard to beat. So, throw on your wellies and get down to Cotswold Farm Park with its field filled with pumpkins. Then grab yourself a plump one and take it home for crafts and pies. While you’re there, don’t miss the amazing 50+ rare breeds of British farm animals – particularly gentle giant, the Suffolk Punch Horse. There’s also feeding stations, where you can give the animals a treat, a beautiful wildlife walk and an adventure barns where little ones can race around on toy tractors. Plus, not forgetting, the muddy kitchen for making mud pies.
Cotswolds Farm Park, Guiting Power, Cheltenham, GL54 5FL. 01451 850307; www.cotswoldfarmpark.co.uk
Cheltenham Racecourse Walk
Surrounded by stunning hills and countryside, Cheltenham Racecourse is one of the most beautiful racecourses in the world. It is also a fantastic walking spot for all the family. Start at Pittville Park (another great place for children) before making your way up to the racecourse (it’s a bit of an uphill slog but worth it). Then follow the tracks into the rolling fields – let the little ones let off steam and splash in the brook while you soak up the brilliant views of the racecourse (the sheer size of the jumps are extraordinary). Four-legged friends will love it here, too – just be aware that the walk can be very muddy.
Cheltenham Racecourse, Evesham Rd, Cheltenham GL50 4SH
Beckford Nature Reserve
A short drive away from Cheltenham lies the hidden gem of Beckford Nature Reserve. Centred around a large lake, its’s perfect for family-friendly outdoor fun. There’s wildlife to spot (the ‘bee hotel’ is a must-visit), plenty of sticks to collect and space to run free. Or, if you want some peace and quiet, there are lots of spots where you can simply sit back, relax and watch the world (including a bevy of swans) go by. Either way, keep an eye out for sand martins, some rare orchids, great crested newts and a host of interesting insects. A Barn Owl has just moved into the nature reserve, too.
Beckford Nature Reserve, 1 Ashton Rd, Tewkesbury GL20 7AE. 01386 881248; www.beckfordnature.org.uk