After its spa waters were discovered in 1716, the town grew rapidly. Cheltenham Spa became so popular, even Queen Victoria, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens came because of its mineral springs. Today Cheltenham’s most important industries include aerospace electronics and food-processing (Kraft) but tourism is equally important for the local economy. It is also famous for the Cheltenham Ladies College; a prestigous, private boarding school for girls.
Cheltenham is well-known for its various cultural festivals, such as the Cheltenham Festival of Literature, the International Festival of Music, the National Hunt Festival or the Cheltenham Cricket Festival. There also is a steeplechase course in Prestbury Park, which is famous for the annual Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.