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Cheltenham has a vibrant social scene, with more than its fair share of festivals and cultural events throughout the year. One of the most famous of these is The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, a veritable feast of all things written and spoken. Yet far from being an event reserved for the dedicated bookworms amongst us, the festival offers something for everyone from families with small children those interested in international politics.


The festival takes place from 5th – 14th October 2012; 10 wonderful days of interviews, discussions and debates featuring some of the biggest names in the worlds of publishing, comedy, television, radio, theatre, philosophy, politics, art and sports.  The theme this year is “People: Power”, exploring this issues that surround power and how the written and spoken word is instrumental to the power we all possess. This is particularly poignant with the American presidential elections commencing exactly one month from the start of the Literature festival.


On this topic, there are some fantastic events for those interested in politics, with highlights including a discussion with the former U.N. Secretary General, Kofi Annan, chaired by the current editor of “The Times” James Harding; in addition to a question and answer session with Jack Straw. Another event sure to be a fascinating insight into the world of politics is when Peter Hennessy the renowned historian and Michael Cockrell a famous documentary maker interview Phil Collins (Tony Blair’s main speech writer) and Daniel Finklestein (the speech writer for many Tory leaders), exploring the art of writing a political speech and its importance throughout history.


One event sure to be captivating the local audience is the frank and open discussion between Peter Hennessy and three prominent Cold War experts, gathered together for the first time and revealing facts regarding events that have never been discussed in public before. Given the festivals’ proximity to GCHQ’s headquarters there are sure to be plenty of enthralling facts from the audience and speakers alike.


The elusive author J.K Rowling makes her first appearance in 14 years on Saturday 6th October, discussing her latest novel, The Casual Vacancy. This novel marks the world famous author’s first venture into adult literature, sure to be every bit as successful as the internationally acclaimed Harry Potter series she is so rightfully famous for. This event is likely to sell out well in advance so be sure to book early to avoid disappointment.


Poetry is always of great interest to those who attend the festival, with the date on everyone’s calendar likely to be the evening of 6th October when Carol Ann Duffy, the Poet Laureate, is joined on stage by Gillian Clarke, the National Poet forWales, for a spellbinding poetic performance.


This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Bond films, honoured at the festival with a special discussion with Roger Moore on 6th Ocotber, in addition to an exploration of the Bond phenomenon and Ian Fleming’s wonderful books.


The topics at this year’s festival are extremely broad, with many wonderful events in addition to those mentioned above, including comedy workshops, children’s workshops, travel with Michael Palin, Benedict Cumberbatch discussing Sherlock Holmes, Nigella Lawson on cookery; and of course the annual Times Debate lead by James Harding, the Editor of The Times. With more free events than ever, 2012 is the perfect year to try something new and discover the fascinating world of literature.


The festival is set in Regency Cheltenham, a beautiful spa town in the heart of the Cotswold’s  The stunning Promenade is home to a diverse range of top restaurants, bars and cafes, with plenty of boutique shops as well as famous high street names. The Cotswold’s are an ideal base from which to access the festival, with breathtaking countryside and stunning views away from the hustle and bustle of the town. Elysian Estates has some fabulous luxury houses for rent within easy reach of Cheltenham, providing a welcome retreat in luxurious surroundings after a busy day at the festival. Our pick of the properties include Temple Guiting Barn, a luxurious barn conversion, and Elkstones, a stunning country house just 35 minutes from Cheltenham centre. See Elysian Estates for more information.


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