All about HAYDAYS


The fabulous HAYDAYS programme for children and families takes place as part of Hay Festival every year. It presents authors and illustrators whose inspiration and imagination make the wonderful books we have today. Taking readers into the world of stories and lighting the spark of what it takes to create them is at the heart of HAYDAYS.

Girls choosing books in Hay Festival bookshop

There are nine days of events, which in 2018 followed two themes: inclusivity and providing access to science. There were opportunities for everyone from the youngest upwards to explore aspects of science and technology far from the classroom and in ways that developed their practical skills as well as the theory. Every year, the HAYDAYS stages play host to storytellers from all around the world so that readers can enjoy the widest range possible.

Among the writers and artists appearing at the 2018 festival were David Walliams, Nadia Shireen, Gemma Cairney, Nick Sharratt, Sarah Crossan, Juno Dawson, Sarah McIntyre, Jacqueline Wilson, Cressida Cowell, Andy Stanton, M.G Leonard, Katherine Rundell, Michael Morpurgo, Judith Kerr, Catherine Johnson and the current Children’s Laureate, Lauren Child. Plus inspirational scientists Robert Winston, Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Steve Mould and Max Barclay. There were books and signings galore by children's and Young Adult authors on the programme in the Hay Festival Bookshop on site. 

Most HAYDAYS events take place in the Starlight Stage and the Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage on the Hay Festival site. There's also a bunch of lovely extras, including:


This is a flexible space with non-stop workshops and events for all ages, which at the 2018 festival included storytelling, illustration, circus workshops, ambient literature and hacking the web – legally.

Make and Take

An opportunity to get crafting, from 10am–5pm daily throughout the festival. Get messy and creative: your imagination is the limit. This is a free, drop in venue.

Scribblers Hut

The Scribblers Hut offers non-stop workshops across the spectrum from illustration through to quantum computing for children, young people and adults.

The Mess Tent

A lovely, messy space for trying new things, with demonstrations and workshops. At the 2018 festival these ranged from optical illusions using ink with CATion Outreach, through to green woodworking with neuro-diverse students from Ruskin Mill. These are free, drop-in events.

Wild Garden

Festival-goers in 2018 were able to cook on an open fire during Rooted Forest School workshops or go on a Wildlife Safari and Treasure Hunt with RSPB Cymru in the lovely Wild Garden venue by the main entrance to the Festival site.

Hay Primary School

The primary school played host in 2018 to some awesome music and dance workshops. Children enjoyed making some noise in Landing Mané’s West African Drumming workshop and expressing themselves on the dance floor with the Ethiopian dance company, Destino.

Hay Festival Compass

Hay Festival Compass is a space for older teenagers and students to learn, be inspired and discover. For imaginative learning resources, internships and free access to some of the world’s best speakers, join us on-site and online. Attend the 'How I Got Here' interviews and find out how our Hay speakers came to their area of expertise, watch the HAY LEVELS, find out more about HAY ACADEMY and about prospective universities or degree subjects from academics, admissions tutors and students at Hay Festival partnership Universities. Free, drop in.

HAYDAYS Workshops

‘Making and doing’ is a vital part of enjoying culture, so there is a vast and varied programme of workshops for children, teenagers and adults. With sessions including creative writing, West African drumming, animation and projection mapping, coding and Ethiopian dance, there is something for everyone, of all ages and abilities.

In 2018, you could hack the web, legally, with Stemettes, drum with Landing Mané, quick-fire sketch with House of Illustration, learn animation and projection mapping with MASHcinema, build stories with Steven Camden, bust a move with the Ethiopian dance company Destino, create your own world with illustrator Laura Carlin, go head-over-heels with Splatch Circus, or cook on an open fire with Rooted Forest School. With so much going on, you have free rein to be adventurous and express your creativity by trying something new at HAYDAYS.

Family Information

Children aged 11 years and under must be accompanied at all times by a parent or guardian, including during events, unless otherwise stated.

The lost child point is located in the Make and Take Tent in the HAYDAYS courtyard between 10am and 5pm every day. Outside these hours it is located in the Admin office next to the Box Office.

For information on accessibility visit

Visitors to Hay Festival may be filmed and/or photographed for future promotions of the Festival.

Children crafting at Hay Festival
Author Patrick Ness speaking at Hay Festival
Girls sharing book in Hay Festival bookshop