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Literature festival "best yet"

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: October 16, 2012

  • STRIDING OUT: Julia Bradbury at the Cheltenham Literature Festival with her book, Wainwright Walks

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"GOODBYE #CheltLitFest for another year!"

With its dazzling array of big-name authors, journalists, cooks and comics, prominent politicians and national treasures, there is no doubt that book lovers will be just as sorry with the end of the festival as the staff from Waterstones who tweeted this message.

With a record-breaking 140,000 tickets sold, and 133,000 fans of the written word descending on Cheltenham for its 63rd celebration, this year was bigger, better, and possibly even more book-filled than before.

Among the biggest sell-out events was Harry Potter author JK Rowling's talk about her new adult fiction The Casual Vacancy, Benedict 'Sherlock' Cumberbatch, UN envoy Kofi Annan, and Little Britain comic-turned epic swimmer David Walliams.

Amy Hulyer, Cheltenham Festival's press and PR manager, said it had been "the most amazing 10 days".

"Thousands of people have joined us to meet some of their favourite authors, and discover new ones. It's proved to be our most popular programme yet. It's fantastic to see so many people enjoying the festival."

In a landmark year that has seen Britain play host to the Olympics and jubilee, the festival has also risen to the 2012 challenge.

Miss Hulyer said: "This was the second year we've used both Imperial and Montpellier Gardens to host the festival – and the atmosphere in the heart of town was really unbelievable. As well as that, the breadth of speakers and events was more wide ranging than ever before.

"From vintage cocktail parties, to cutting edge comment from world leaders, to the best contemporary writers, via appearances from Peter Rabbit and Peppa Pig – there's been a huge variety of events for all ages and literary tastes."

Some festival-goers even got to tread the boards of the Spiegeltent – the mirrored travelling dance hall of 1900s Belgium, frequented by the bohemian underworld.

Even the autumn downpours failed to dampen spirits.

"We're used to varied weather, so it didn't pose any problems to our events or venues," said Amy.

Alex Attwood, from the festival press team, added that the festival had exceeded expectations financially for the not-for-profit group.

Next year's festival dates have already been fixed for October 11 to 20.

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  • gallopingbear  |  October 16 2012, 4:19PM

    It was great. Loved it. The only criticism I would say, is that it petered out a little towards the end. After the excitement of the first few days and the big sellout events, the atmosphere and momentum seemed to dwindle a little. However, it was still a fantastic event, and the organisers should be pleased with themselves. Can't wait for next year.

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  • InspectorGade  |  October 16 2012, 1:17PM

    I've never been to the Literary festival, but isn't it just celebrities hawking their latest books?