Making Hay while the sun (hopefully) shines

Making Hay while the sun (hopefully) shines

26 May to 4 June Hay-on-Wye, Wales

The Hay Festival is one of the world’s top literary festivals, staged in the small town of Hay-on-Wye on the Wales-England border.

This year the Hay Festival is 30 year’s old and is again bringing together writers from around the world to debate and share stories at its festival in the staggering beauty of the Welsh Borders. Hay celebrates great writing from poets and scientists, lyricists and comedians, novelists and environmentalists, and the power of great ideas to transform our way of thinking. The exchange of views and meeting of minds at this festival inspires revelations personal, political and educational. Hay is, in Bill Clinton’s phrase, ‘The Woodstock of the mind’.

Last year I attended and wandered the site in glorious sunshine drinking in the atmosphere of being at one of the most exciting and stimulating events in the British calendar. As I stood in queues waiting for entry into one of the huge tented stages the helpful stewards shepherded hundred into the slightly uncomfortable seats I exchanged pleasantries with people from all over the world who had come to enjoy this festival of ideas. Everyone was so friendly I truly felt a citizen of the world that Hay encouraged us to image.

The best in new fiction, non-fiction and poetry is presented in conversations with award-winning writers including: Elizabeth Strout, Colm Toíbín, David Mitchell, Ian Rankin, Helen Fielding, Howard Jacobson, Hanif Kureishi, Paula Hawkins, Victoria Hislop, Eimear McBride, and Tony Parsons, to name but a few of my favourites.

Michael Palin book Signing at Hay Festival 2016 - Credit Sam Hardwick

Michael Palin book signing at Hay Festival 2016

From Brexit to Trump, global affairs, politics and economics, are drawn into focus in conversations with US Senator Bernie Sanders, former Home Secretary Alan Johnson, Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov, Labour MP Jess Philips, and trade minister Mark Price.

Held over the half term the younger generation are well catered for. The HAYDAYS line-up includes a host of family favourites, from award-winning children’s writers and YA stars to a broad spectrum of interactive activities and pop-ups, complementing the wider Hay Festival programme, including: Jacqueline Wilson, Judith Kerr, Julia Donaldson, Chris Riddell, Adrian Edmundson, Anthony Horowitz, Julian Clary, Marcus Sedgwick, Michael Rosen.

The BBC will host a series of events, live radio broadcasts and recordings of flagship shows at this year’s Hay Festival from the BBC Tent.

Now open for public booking at, the line-up includes life-changing writers, stars of stage and screen, pioneers of science and technology, and future world leaders, who converge for a party of ideas and stories in 800 events.

The full programme is available to view online at