The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, for ten days from May to June. Devised by Norman, Rhoda and Peter Florence in 1988, the festival was described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as “The Woodstock of the mind“
Due to the Coronavirus Outbreak however, Hay Festival 2020 will run a little differently to normal. For the first time in its 32-year history, the Hay Festival, usually a vision of fluttering flags and wide marquees amid the gently rolling hills of the Wye Valley, will take place entirely online.
This year between 18th and 31st of May, Hay Festival Digital #Imaginetheworld is going digital and will be free for everyone with a computer or smart phone to view.
Over 100 authors, comedians, journalists, politicians, chefs, activists, memoirists, historians and philosophers are hosting a stellar slate of talks, readings and other events.
This year’s impressive line-up includes all the requisite esteemed names one might expect, from Hilary Mantel, fresh from the byzantine conclusion to her Cromwell trilogy, The Mirror And The Light, to Stephen Fry, who will discuss Philippe Sands’ new non-fiction book, The Ratline, with Sands, which documents the last days of a high-ranking Nazi official on the run after the war. Second-wave feminism meets third-wave as Gloria Steinem takes to the stage with Laura Bates (she of the monumental Everyday Sexism Project) in a talk with the enticing title “The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off” and Nobel Prize-winning economist Esther Duflo will turn her attention to the great questions of 2020, from climate change to migration – and how compassionate, interventionist economic policies can solve them. Margaret Atwood, Helen McCrory, Vanessa Redgrave, Monty Don, Simon Armitage, Jonathan Pryce, Toby Jones, Stephen Fry and Tom Hollander will lead “A Night In With The Wordsworths”, a celebration of the poet’s work to coincide with Wordsworth 250, a nationwide series of readings this summer to mark Wordsworth’s 250th birthday. And GQ’s very own Dylan Jones will speak to Tori Amos about her new memoir, Resistance.
Further highlights include discussions with Elif Shafak, Anne Enright and Maggie O’Farrell, while Simon Schama addresses the return of nationalism around the globe and AC Grayling makes the case for a written constitution as Westminster-style democracy comes under increasing strain.
All the talks will be available online for free and a full programme can be found at hayfestival.com; would-be festivalgoers can register their interest to take part at hayfestival.com/join-us.
Hay Festival Winter Weekend is still scheduled to take place in Hay-On-Wye later this year, from 27-29 November, while the 2021 edition of the Hay Festival will take place from 27 May to 6 June.
Picture Credits – Hay Festival