The 59th Times Cheltenham Literature Festival has enjoyed a record-breaking year with total ticket sales topping 100, 000 (a 15% increase from last year’s 87, 000 figure).
With more than 450 writers and over 350 events, this year’s ten-day programme continued to attract widespread audiences and high profile speakers. Prime Minister Gordon Brown made a surprise guest appearance on the opening day of the 2008 festival.
Other highlights included events with Hollywood legends Roger Moore and Tony Curtis, political figures Ken Livingstone and Tony Benn, television stars John Barrowman and Tony Robinson and award-winning authors Ben Okri and Rose Tremain (pic left).
BBC journalist Kate Adie and the UK’s biggest selling crime writer Ian Rankin were this year’s Guest Directors, each creating their own weekend programme of events with themes including censorship and political correctness
Festival Director Sarah Smyth commented on the 2008 Festival success: ”This year's Festival has certainly been the most exhilarating yet, with record attendances of over 100,000 and hugely successful events for festival goers of all ages. From the massively popular Family Fun Days, which have brought hundreds of children and young people into the very heart of the Festival, to some brilliant talks from authors including Simon Schama, Jonathan Dimbleby, Penelope Lively and A C Grayling - and of course our visit from Prime Minister Gordon Brown to launch the Festival - this year is sure to be one to remember for many years to come.”
For the first time, the festival doesn't end here. A unique festival event will take place on 29th October with Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison in her only UK appearance.