Our History

Cheltenham is synonymous with arts festivals starting with Performing Arts (1926), Music (1945), Literary (1949), Jazz (1996), Poetry (2011) and Film (2019). Through the decades, the world’s leading filmmakers, actors, musicians, writers, artists, poets and respected figures from politics, science and even astronauts have come to Cheltenham: Mike Leigh, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dame Judy Dench, Bill Nighy, Roger Daltrey, David Attenborough, Prince Charles, Salman Rushdie, Van Morrison, Hilary Clinton, Michael Palin and Bob Geldof, among them. And, most recently, former British Prime Minister, David Cameron and the singer, Debbie Harry.

Cheltenham is now officially branded The Festival Town of Britain. Loyal audiences are drawn to the festivals from in and around the town, across the Midlands and South-West region and throughout the country. Whilst 2020 is a very different year, in more normal times The Film Festival complements a full annual schedule of arts festivals from the Poetry Festival at the end of April, through to the Jazz Festival in May; the International Film Festival in May; the Music Festival in July and concludes with the Literature Festival in October.

The Cheltenham International Film Festival (CIFF) has moved its 2020 festival online. The live in-person festival scheduled for the end of May was cancelled when the government put the country into lockdown. The new dates for the online festival are 8th June – 14th June.

Tickets will go on sale shortly, available on line. Please continue to visit our website for updated information.

The film festival is managed by the charity, Cheltenham International Film Trust and works closely with Lumiere Göttingen Film Festival and Sochi International Film Festival as both cities are twinned with Cheltenham.

Given the town’s famed Regency architecture and its pedigree for world class international festivals, situated in beautiful Cotswolds country, within easy reach of Bristol, Birmingham and London, the organisers plan to position the festival as a top line film festival, attracting the best international films and respected, high-profile figures from the world of cinema.