69. Cheltenham's Four Fabulous Festivals... Jazz, Science, Music and Literature
Although it is located on the edge of the Cotswold Hills, Cheltenham is known as the "Centre for the Cotswolds" and this is certainly true when it comes to staging major cultural events.
Cheltenham is the home to four major festivals - jazz, music, science and literature - which take place throughout the year. Run by the Cheltenham Festivals charity, they have combined annual ticket sales of more than 200,000.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival, formed in 1996, takes place in a tented village in the town's Montpellier Gardens, in late April. It has a close relationship with BBC Radio 2 and over the years has attracted such major stars as Jamie Cullum, Jools Holland, Curtis Stigers and Van Morrison.
Cheltenham Science Festival, formed in 2002, takes place in early June at the Town Hall and gardens, with a special tented science village built in Imperial Square. With lots of free activities for both children and adults, the festival has attracted high-calibre guests such as Robert Winston, Richard Dawkins and Tony Robinson.
The science festival also hosts an international science-based talent competition, which attracts finalists from 25 countries around the world, with live semi-finals and a final at the festival.
Cheltenham Music Festival, formed in 1945, takes place in the middle of the summer. It is hosted in several venues across Gloucestershire, including the Pittville Pump Room and the Town Hall in Cheltenham, along with various cathedrals, abbeys and churches throughout the county.
Events range from free family workshops and young artists’ projects, through to concerts and the promotion of contemporary composers. As well as music, the festival features film, dance, the visual arts and the spoken word.
Cheltenham Literature Festival was formed in 1949 and is now established as one of the country's principal literary events. Currently sponsored by The Times, the 2014 festival ran from October 3-12 in various venues with a range of talks, workshops, debate, and other entertaining events.
As well as attracting many of the great names in modern literature, the festival also attracts some of the biggest names in culture, politics and sport. Past guests have included Patrick Stewart, Richard Attenborough, Clive James, JK Rowling and Benedict Cumberbatch.