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Plenty of free events to enjoy at Lit Fest

Where: Various venues around Cheltenham and Festival Village at Montpellier Gardens

When: October 4-15

There are more than 80 free events for all ages to enjoy at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival.

This year, more venues than ever will take part in the Lit Crawl (Saturday 6 October 5pm till late) which sees the pubs, cafes and clubs of Cheltenham bursting at the seams as crowds queue up for a late-night literary fix.

Created in San Francisco in 2004, 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.

Back again this year is the after-dark Festival Club at the centrally-placed Hotel du Vin for late night music and revelry (Fridays and Saturdays only).

Young authors and illustrators from 10 Gloucestershire primary schools have been hard at work writing stories and designing giant book covers to be featured on a Monster Story Trail in various venues around Cheltenham to be unveiled on 5 October.

The Festival Village in Montpellier Gardens will see two weekends buzzing with free family-friendly activities, including a Beano Challenge Trail, a We're Going On A Bear Hunt storytelling adventure, costume characters, dragon stories and fun activities with star children's party entertainers Sharky And George.

Elsewhere there is plenty for all ages to discover on site: 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 enjoy pop-up performances by University of Gloucestershire students or see Festival-inspired art at the Gardens Gallery and an exhibition of poetry and photography from students participating in Beyond Words, a Cheltenham Festivals outreach programme for young people with severe mental or physical illness.

Festivals director Ian George said: "There's nothing quite like Cheltenham in October when thousands of book-lovers flock to our town for the Literature Festival.

"With the support of partners like Cheltenham BID we can bring literature to everyone and get families, friends and the community together to celebrate books and the spoken word."

A host of famous names appearing at this year's Cheltenham Literature Festival include Roger Daltrey, Jacqueline Wilson, Eric Idle and John Simpson.

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