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From what was originally a three concert festival, the annual Cheltenham Festival has evolved into a four-tiered celebration of culture with separate Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. The four festivals now proudly present more than 1,000 events. Tickets sales have ballooned to more than 215,000, a far cry from the original festival held Music Festival held in 1945.

And visitors to historic Cheltenham are thrilled with how fluidly residents and businesses accommodate their guests. Cheltenham Festivals is the charitable organisation that recruits the talent and plans all four major festivals. The organization commands national and international prestige for its innovative and creative programming.

Cheltenham Festivals now invites more than 2,500 of the world’s best musicians, writers, scientists, performers and thinkers to join the festivities and entertain guests with exciting and highly creative performances. The Cheltenham Festivals are considered truly inspirational and draw attendees from around the globe.

The hosting organization has extended programmes so that schools and young people and the local community can enjoy festivals around the year. Young talent and rising stars are always welcome in Cheltenham.

The 2014 Music Festival

The 70th Cheltenham Music Festival will be celebrated from Wednesday July 2, 2014 through Sunday July 13, 2014, eleven full days and nights of events and performances by the most talented musicians in the world. Festival Director Meurig Bowen describes the Music Festival as follows; “The Cheltenham Music Festival is all about high-calibre performances, magnificent venues and a huge variety of music – from symphonic grandeur to the intimacy of chamber music, and from sublime choral experiences to brand new musical adventures.”

For diversity and talent, the well planned festival proceeds with uncommon balance and activity. In 2014, the new chairman of the Music Festival will be Edward Gillespie, formerly director of Cheltenham Racecourse. The Guest Director will be Nicola Benedetti, the young violin virtuoso. Bowen told the media, “We are really thrilled to be celebrating our 70th Music Festival and will mark the occasion with a truly spectacular Festival. Having Edward and Nicola join our team for 2014 will certainly boost our plans for such celebration.” Next year’s guests can expect a celebration of past festivals as well as an inspired look at the music of the future.

Nicola is ideal to serve as Guest Director. As the winner of the Classic Brits 2012 Best Female Artist, Benedetti has displayed seemingly mystical powers when it comes to captivating audiences and exciting music critics. Benedetti has quickly risen to the top of the classical world. Nicola’s 2012 Last Night of the Proms has topped the charts and she regularly plays to sold out crowds.

Benedetti will not only open the Festival by performing Beethoven with her highly acclaimed trio, the Bournemouth Symphony under the direction of conductor Kirill Karabits, but will also be active in many other capacities. Nicola will lead workshops with young players from Gloucestershire. Music education has always been an underlying theme for the Cheltenham Music Festival and 2014 will definitely continue the trend.

The 2014 Festival will feature a rousing celebration in honour of the American 4th of July holiday. Attendees are expected to don proper attire for what promise to be a show-stopping, foot stomping American Night. The John Wilson Orchestra will perform and feature works by noted composers John Travener, Graham Fitkin, Judith Weir and famed Genesis artist Tony Banks. Banks has already announced that he is, “very excited about being at next year’s Cheltenham Music Festival. It will be the first time that any classical, or orchestral, piece of mine will have been performed live.”

One of the festival’s most popular venues is the Pittville Pump Room. Next year outstanding pianist Benjamin Grosvenor, the acclaimed Brodsky Quartet and tenor Mark Padmore will be joined by Norwegian saxophonist and the Hilliard Ensemble. The magnificently appointed Gloucester Cathedral with its unparalleled acoustics will be the site of some of the most stirring presentations.

The Qualia Project At The Cheltenham Festivals

With funding from the prestigious Digital R&D Fund, Cheltenham Festivals is undertaking a new research project. The goals is to develop new technology which will record and analyse audience reactions to Festival events. The project is a collaboration between the Festival, The Institute of Digital Art and Technology, Plymouth University and Warwick University. The initial phase of the Qualia Project commenced in 2013 and will continue more intensely in 2014.

This year, audiences were tested for their sentiments about equipment used to record smiles during the impressive Jazz Festival in May. During the Science Festival, live evaluations were performed. At the 2013 Music Festival, audiences were able to record their feedback on pods at three different venues where concerts were staged. Touch screens allowed audience members to share “eyes and ears” reactions to the music. At the 2013 Literature Festival, pods will again be used to provide real-time analysis of audience engagement.

The aim of the Qualia Project is to: “Produce a new way of capturing and measuring the impact of arts events whilst also giving arts organisations immediate insight into what their audiences like and don’t like. We want to create a new form of live-time evaluation which allows us to programme with the full knowledge of our audience’s responses and a means of measuring sentiment impact at arts events which we can share with the wider sector.” As a result of research performed at the Festival, future audiences can expect even more improvements to equipment and programming in the future.


Cheltenham takes great pride in its lively and inspirational festivals. As one of England’s most historic areas, there is always something entertaining to do in Cheltenham. With the four Festivals and the efforts of the Cheltenham Festival organisation to continually expand cultural events in the region, advance reservations and ticketing at the Festival of your choice is strongly recommended.You will love the Festivals and be thrilled with the ambiance and hospitality of Cheltenham. International travelers regard these Festivals with special enthusiasm. Discover the magic that is Cheltenham and celebrate the unparalleled hospitality.