#cheltlitfest – ten days of celebrity signings and sexy pizza men

This October, over 1.2 million people attended The Times and Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, which had its best year ever, including a stellar line-up, some wonderful new sponsors and an unbeatable team of event managers, production staff and almost 250 volunteers.

The festival itself is constantly expanding its content, sponsorship and patrons. Returners to the festival were happy to see the site buzzing with its usual excitement and the new addition of a Green & Black’s chocolate tasting tent (the most popular stall in the history of existence).

Ten reasons you should volunteer for #cheltlitfest:
1. They pay for all your travel, accommodation and food, plus you get a cracking T-shirt. Generous, or what?
2. You’ll have the most productive thirteen days of your life, from setting up the festival to escorting famous writers and dressing up in costumes.
3. You’ll meet some amazing people. All the event managers and production staff are hilarious, fun and bad influences in the best way, plus they all have cool connections. It’s all about networking, after all.
4. And while we’re talking about meeting people – Judie Dench, Ian McEwan, Brian May and many more are all regular festival faces.
5. You’ve got plenty of chances to progress – I’ve gone from being a volunteer to an AV technician, which has thrown up many opportunities.
6. The festival has tons of departments and you can have a go in all of them, whether it’s marketing, development, education or production. It’s not just a festival for English students, but also business, management and more.
7. We’re a big happy festival family. You’ll start to see the same people again and again, as well as keeping in touch for the rest of the year. Each festival is like a big reunion.
8. It’s also one big party. You can legitimately drink and eat pizza for twelve nights in a row and not feel at all guilty.
9. They’ll take care of you. From giving you a full health and safety debrief and letting you see the events you want, to a slap up meal at the beginning and end of the festival, you’ll always feel valued by the team.
10. If you’re not sure about Literature, there’s also Jazz, Science and Music to volunteer for. The same amazing faces lead all four festivals, so if you can, you should really do them all!

Highlights this year included appearances from Tom Kerridge, Malorie Blackman, and Damian Lewis. Children’s illustrators were also well represented with many sold-out and screaming kids events from the likes of Alex T. Smith. The RSC were on site, promoting their new Christmas play, celebrating the centenary and demonstrating live sword fighting. Comedian Russell Kane delighted back stage staff by bringing his own packed lunch. Brian May hosted a 3D extravaganza and Caitlin Moran took hundreds of weird and wonderful selfies with event staff.

Best events: The Times Present Tense series, where journalists dealing with some of the most current crises of our day spoke to packed out audiences about their experiences. The Syria and North Korea talks were particularly well-attended, frightening and riveting.

Festival highlight: A bacon butty celebration breakfast halfway through the festival as we smashed our way through our sales target, and the addition of Baz & Fred’s home made pizza to the site (one serving comes complete with two very delicious men that make it).

Literature marks the end of the year for Cheltenham Festivals, and is always a spectacular few weeks. And though it might sound cliché, none of it would be possible without the volunteers that try it, love it and keep returning. Come join us – we’re waiting!

For more information visit www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/