CHELTENHAM will welcome more than 600 of the world’s greatest writers, poets, politicians, thinkers and actors when The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival kicks off on Friday, October 5.

The festival villages in Montpellier and Imperial Gardens will open their doors to thousands of literature lovers for 10 days of talks and workshops and the chance to rub shoulders with some true literary greats.

This year’s line-up is already proving to be a huge hit, with more than 95,000 tickets already sold.

Now in its 63rd year, the 2012 programme is one of its most richly varied, with speakers including Bond legend Roger Moore, Poirot star David Suchet, award-winning writer Salman Rushdie, Michael Palin and Nigella Lawson.

Executive director of the festival Jane Furze said: “I’m thrilled that so many people are looking forward to the festival next month.

“I think we’ve created a programme that recognises the real breadth of interests Cheltenham audiences have, and their openness to discovering new things.

“We’ve received incredibly positive feedback about the quality of this year's programme and there’s been an unprecedented demand for tickets.

“While a handful of events have sold out, we still have tickets remaining for hundreds of brilliant speakers and I hope more people than ever before will be able to enjoy the festival.

To download the full programme or book tickets, visit