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. The Film Festival complements a full schedule of arts festivals in 2020 from the Poetry Festival at the end of April, through to the Jazz Festival 5th – 10th May; the International Film Festival on 25th May – 31st May; the Music Festival from 3rd – 12th July and concludes with the Literature Festival from 2nd – 11th October.

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. The next chapter for us is our second Festival which will take place this year between 25th May and 31st May.