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More than 80 free events at Chelt Lit Fest

Where: Venues around Cheltenham

When: Friday, October 4, to Sunday, October 13

Literature is coming to town and there are more than 80 free events at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival (October 4-13).

The Festival has worked with Cheltenham BID to make sure that the town's businesses, shops, cafes, bars and hotels are part of the fun.

Featuring an astonishing variety of book-themed events across the town, from cool spoken word gigs, literary pub quizzes, tarot reading, improv comedy and wine tasting, to storytelling sessions and family fun trails, people of all ages will find something to enjoy.

Children from 10 local primary schools have created colourful canvases featuring Elmer the patchwork elephant and an array of animal friends for a picture parade around town. Young fans can meet the patchwork pachyderm in a storytelling session on Saturday, October 5, at Cheltenham's Regent Arcade.

A brand-new poetry trail: The Minds of Our Generation has been created by Ambient Literature to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Festival. Readings from poets who appeared at the Festival during the last seven decades have been recreated across the streets of the town, echoing through the years long after their Festival is complete. The route follows locations within Cheltenham Paint Festival and will be available via a free app.

The popular Lit Crawl (Saturday, October 5, 5pm till late) sees pop-up events and quirky happenings all over the streets, cafes and pubs of Cheltenham for a late-night literary fix.

Beginning in San Francisco in 2004 and now a firm fixture of the Cheltenham Literature Festival calendar, Lit Crawl blends a bar crawl with some of the best up-and-coming spoken word performers, readings, comedy and parties held in the hottest spots around town finishing up at Bottle of Sauce for a riotous finale. And after dark, the Festival Club at the centrally-placed Hotel du Vin offers late night music and revelry on Fridays and Saturdays.

The Festival Village in Montpellier Gardens has plenty of free family-friendly activities, including a Secret Seven Mystery Trail, cosy bedtime stories read by special Festival guests, a family draw-along, a We're Going On A Bear Hunt storytelling adventure, costume characters and circus skills.

Elsewhere there is plenty for all ages to discover on site: meeting favourite authors and celebrities in Waterstones bookshops;, daily readings from local authors, brain teasers and live music, a daily Times crossword, and a daily instalment of brainy soapbox-style talks in The Huddle.

Swap books in the cosy outdoor lounge The Bookstand and or see Festival-inspired art at the Gardens Gallery.

Lyndsey Fineran, programme and commissions manager, said: "We're on a mission to infect the whole town with the book-loving bug whatever your age and wherever you live.

"We are looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors to Cheltenham for the Literature Festival and we want to get the whole community involved in celebrating books and the spoken word."

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