General Rules


The Competition shall be known as the “Cheltenham Festival of Performing Arts”.


There is no geographical restriction for any of the Performers, except for the Keith Nutland Award. See special rules for Keith Nutland competition.


No persons gaining all or a principal part of their livelihood by music, speech, drama or dancing may compete, except in the classes marked “Open” (This Rule does not apply to Conductors of Choirs). The Committee reserve the right to refuse entry to an Open Class where the performer’s experience may be insufficient.


The management of these competitions and all matters relating thereto shall be in the hands of a Chairman and a Committee with a Secretary and Treasurer, whose decision on any matter shall be final.


In the event of there not being a sufficient number of entries in any Class, or in the opinion of the judges the competitors do not show sufficient merit, the Committee reserves to itself the power to withdraw all or any of the awards.


Time limits must be strictly adhered to and competitors who over-run will be penalised with the loss of one mark per minute or part of a minute, and will run the risk of not receiving a mark. Time limits do not include any introduction to the piece


In the event of there being fewer than 5 entries in a Class, the Committee reserves to itself the power to cancel that Class. In that event, a refund of the fees will be given.


(a) All performers attending a state school which is not an academy and who are entered into classes that take place during the school day must have a child licence (applied for by the parents), otherwise they will be denied entry to the class on the day.
(b) All performers attending any kind of school and who enter classes that take place during the school day must have approval from the head teacher, otherwise they will be denied entry to the class on the day.
For more information, see the CFPA child licencing and head teacher approval page.


Performers should ensure that they are dressed appropriately. The well-groomed personal appearance of competitors will be taken into account when adjudicating performance and awarding marks.


Certificates with the Adjudicator’s comments will be available at the completion of each class. For two months after the end of the Festival, certificates not collected during the Festival may be requested from the relevant Section Secretary and will be sent by post on receipt of a payment of £4.


(a) No cup or trophy will be awarded under 85 marks.
(b) In the event of more than one person being awarded a cup or trophy, they shall hold it for a proportionate time in alphabetical order of surname.
(c) All cup and trophy winners must provide a name and contact details before taking the cup away.
(c) Medals will be awarded on the following basis: Where there are 5 or fewer in a class only a gold medal will be awarded. In a class of fewer than 10 participants a gold and silver medal will be awarded. In classes of 10 or more, a gold, a silver and a bronze medal will be awarded. NO medals will be awarded in any “Open” class.

(d) No medal will be awarded under 80 marks.
(e) In classes other than “Open” classes, where there is a cup, the cup winner, on production of the cup winner’s certificate, may purchase a gold medal from the Festival Office for the sum of £7.00.


The adjudicator’s decision is final.


All entries must be entered online or be sent to the respective Section Secretary on or before 1st February. Entries received after the closing date will only be accepted at the discretion of the Section Secretary.


(a) In the case of numerous entries, the Committee reserves the right to divide any class which may be considered too large for adjudication.

(b) For classes split into ‘A’ and ‘B’ sets, each set will be adjudicated with 1st, 2nd, 3rd places and medals. Only one cup will be awarded overall.

(c) Small classes may be combined if the numbers are too low.


Age limit is reckoned as on 31st August in the year preceding the Festival and this will be strictly observed. All ages under 19 years must be on the Entry Form. Entry Forms without the competitor’s age (under 19 years) will not be accepted.


The Committee regrets that Fees cannot be refunded under any circumstances other than Rule G7.


Performers are urged to ensure they have entered the correct Class on the entry form as transferring Classes cannot be permitted after the commencement of the Festival.


No photography, sound recording or video recording of any kind is permitted within the Town Hall, except by personnel approved by the Festival Committee. This is in line with our Child Protection Policy, copyright law and the licence under which we hire the Town Hall.


Performers in “Own Choice” Classes may not offer items with which they have already won prizes in past Cheltenham Festivals.


Performers may not enter more than once in the same Class unless specified, nor may they enter the same piece in more than one Class.


Performers should perform in the order given in the programme unless involved elsewhere, in which case they must notify the steward. Those not answering to their names when called will be recalled at the end of the Class, however the adjudication will not be delayed.


The Festival reserves the right to commence any class up to 15 minutes earlier than the published time.


Performers who have entered classes which overlap, should first attend the class in which they appear earliest in the order. In the event of any difficulty, the Adjudicator’s Steward should be consulted.


The Use of Recorded Music at the Festival. This Festival is affiliated to the British Federation of Festivals and participates in its Group Licence to cover payment of fees for the use of recorded music at its event. Teachers using tracks created from commercial recordings are advised that they should themselves seek permission to re-record from the record companies concerned as the Festival cannot take responsibility for this.


Cups and trophies must be returned clean and in good condition to Don Browning Trophies, 4 St George’s Street, Cheltenham GL50 4AF, no later than the end of March prior to the next Festival.