Cheltenham Festival announces 'Seven at Seventy' celebrations

News - Festivals Thursday, 13 June 2019

Seven 'guest curators' to take part in this year's festival, including Max Porter, Tessa Hadley and Robin Stevens

The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Festival has announced plans for its 'Seven at Seventy' celebrations, marking 70 years since Cheltenham Town Hall hosted the world's first literary festival. The celebrations will be part of the festival's programme of more than 500 events taking place from 4-13 October 2019.

Seven 'Guest Curators' will be part of the programming team, leading discussions exploring 'key social and cultural touchpoints' from the last seventy years. The curators are: Max Porter; Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené; Dominic Sandbrook; Tessa Hadley; Anthony Anaxagorou; Leslie Vinjamuri; and Robin Stevens.

The festival will also see seven literature festivals from around the world selecting a writer to join Cheltenham's programme:

- Verb Festival (Wellington, New Zealand) invites poet Chris Tse
- Ake Arts and Book Festival (Lagos, Nigeria) invites poet and journalist Wana Udobang
- Tokyo International Literature Festival (Tokyo, Japan) invites writer and artist Kanako Nishi
- Litquake (San Francisco, USA) invites novelist and essayist Esme Wang
- International Literature Festival Dublin (Dublin, Ireland) invites writer Nicole Flattery
- Toronto International Festival of Authors (Toronto, Canada) invites novelist Sarah Henstra
- FILBA (Buenos Aires, Argentina) invites Hernán Ronsino

Another 70 global festivals will each recommend one title, to form a 'Reading the World' reading list.

The Festival will also reflect on the 'rich literary heritage of agenda-setting conversation' through seven podcasts featuring clips from key events over the last seventy years, alongside building on its 'Podcast-in-Residence' role.

Some of this year's featured speakers will be revealed on 1 July, with the full programme revealed on 16 August.

Nicola Tuxworth, the Festival's head of programming, said: "It is an honour to curate the 70th anniversary programme and the Seven at Seventy project. Seven at Seventy reflects the rich heritage of the Festival as well as looking towards the future. Here's to 70 more years!"

Porter said: "I'm honoured to be given a chance to curate these events at Cheltenham. The open-mindedness of the festival, their energy for collaboration and experimentation is thrilling. I'll be bringing events to Cheltenham which use improvisation, music and play. We are planning to get the text up off the page, walking, talking, singing into the festival and into the world. We want to ask difficult questions, unpack things, plant strange language seeds, and give visitors to the festival unusual and beautiful experiences to take away with them."

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