Wednesday 10th July

Our Regency town has long been known for its festivals and now it is official, from today we are The Festival Town.

With a population of only 117,000 it’s staggering that we play host to 25+ significant festivals every year, several of which are world leading.  

Retaining our spa and Regency heritage, the place for leisure and pleasure, our new brand builds on our positioning as the place to come and refresh your mind, body and soul.  Only now our healing waters have been replaced by our refreshing festival vibes.

Our festivals attract thousands of local, regional and international visitors and millions of pounds into Cheltenham’s economy each year benefitting all local businesses from hotels to restaurants, shops and bars.

The largest and most well-known festival is the world-famous horse racing event ‘The Festival’, featuring the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March - the 4th largest sporting event in the UK.  We are famous for hosting the oldest Literature festival in the world whilst the Jazz, Science and Music festival programs are the envy of many a city. 

Other festivals that attract significant audiences to our town are Wychwood Festival, Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Comedy Festival and Festival of Performing Arts. In recent years, four new festivals have joined the party – Cheltenham Balloon Fiesta, Cheltenham Paint Festival, Cheltenham International Film Festival and Cheltenham Wellbeing Festival. 

So why did we feel the need to rename Cheltenham, The Festival Town?

Kelly Ballard, Manager of Marketing Cheltenham, said: “In 2017 we commissioned market research into what people feel about Cheltenham and its appeal as a visitor destination.

“The findings came back loud and clear – people saw Cheltenham mainly as ‘the horse racing place’.  Whilst horse racing brings a huge contribution to Cheltenham, it is only 16 days of the year.  If we want people to come year-round, then people need to associate the town with something distinctive. 

Working with the team from Little Big Agency as well as a consortium of organisations from across the town, we have decided that we want Cheltenham to become known as The Festival Town.

Festivals are what we do well, it is part of our heritage and there is a growing number of people going to festivals across the world.” 

Steve Jordan, Leader of Cheltenham Borough Council said “Cheltenham is a great town that has so much on offer for visitors. Locally we are very proud of our festivals and the contribution they bring to the culture of Cheltenham for residents and businesses alike.  The Festival Town strapline seems like a natural choice.”   

Ian George, Director of Festivals at Cheltenham Festivals, and one of those involved in the rebranding exercise said they are proud to be part of Cheltenham’s cultural offering, having hosted festivals here since 1945. 

“The Festivals are an integral part of Cheltenham’s unique offer as a Cultural Destination, as we bring together the hottest new talent and the very best in the best,” he said. “There are few other towns in England which play host to such an astonishing breadth of artists, authors, musicians, scientists and writers each year.

“Our year-round outreach projects engage with our national and local community’s and culminate at the Festivals, bringing people of diverse ages and backgrounds together in a celebration of the Arts and Science which we believe should be accessible to all.”

One of the things that’s special about festivals in Cheltenham is the stunning Regency architecture and backdrop of the Cotswolds hills.

Julian Dunkerton, Superdry Co-founder and Entrepreneur has been investing in Cheltenham’s visitor economy for over ten years and 2020 will see the opening of his fourth boutique Regency hotel with the refurbishment of The George in St Georges Road. The Lucky Onion Group, which he owns with his wife, fashion designer Jade Holland Cooper, epitomises Cheltenham festival spirit and style. 

He said: “Cheltenham’s festivals have evolved enormously over the past number of years and are incredibly important in stimulating growth in tourism and the regional economy. As a local Cheltonian and an entrepreneur, my goal is to play a supportive role in putting Cheltenham on the map. This exciting re-brand to establish Cheltenham as the festival town of the UK is a key turning point for the region. With an ever-expanding array of festivals that take place annually from Horse Racing, Jazz, Culture, Food and Literature there is an appetite and a clear vision to really catapult Cheltenham to the forefront of the nation as the festival town of the UK”

Ian Johnson, of The Little Big Agency, said that the three words “The Festival Town” summed up everything about Cheltenham.

“There are no sodden fields and overflowing toilets with our festivals,” he said. “What you get when you visit Cheltenham is a wonderful mix of the traditional and the modern – an oasis of calm, creativity and culture just waiting to be discovered.”

Our new branding has been rolled out on this website, with images used that we feel best represent the festival vibe of our Regency town.  We hope you like what you see and look forward to seeing you at one of the many festivals listed here very soon! 

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