Our 2023 HAYDAYS programme invites children and young adults to explore their creativity, curiosity and connection with authors, poets, illustrators, performers, scientists and environmentalists. Find all your favourite authors plus some new discoveries below.
To find more events and workshops for students visit our Education page
Celebrate the 30th year of A Squash and A Squeeze in a fun-packed hour of stories and songs based on the author’s many books. She performs with her guitar-playing husband Malcolm and other actors, bringing to life her much treasured and brand new stories. Get ready to join in!
There will be a BSL interpreter at this event
Come on down to the farm with JB Gill for an event packed full of adventure and animal antics. Dr Dolittle meets Dick King-Smith in Ace and the Animal Heroes: The Big Farm Rescue, a funny and charming tale from the pop star and presenter turned award-winning farmer and author. When Ace receives a surprise gift from a long-lost relative, he and his grandparents pack up their life in the city and move to the countryside to live on a run-down farm. Little does Ace know there’s an even bigger surprise awaiting him…
JB Gill rose to fame as a member of one of the UK’s biggest boybands – JLS. Ten years ago, he set up a farm in the Kent countryside, where he lives with his wife and children, Ace and Chiara. JB presents Channel 5’s Milkshake TV series Cooking With The Gills and CBeebies BAFTA-nominated Down on the Farm.
Have some fun with Michael Rosen, former Children’s Laureate and much loved author and poet, creator of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, A Great Big Cuddle and Michael Rosen’s Sad Book. Michael is a hugely popular performer – come along and join him for stories, poetry, humour and entertainment for all ages.
Open talking from gender equality activist and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates and author of I Heard What You Said Jeffrey Boakye, who has a particular interest in issues surrounding race, masculinity, education and popular culture. Together they’ll discuss important issues for young people today including consent, women online and toxic masculinity. Laura Bates is a Hay Festival 2023 Thinker in Residence, questioning norms, finding new perspectives and challenging us to action.
Join actor, writer and Rizzle Kicks member Jordan Stephens along with illustrator Beth Suzanna for an interactive storytelling adventure to find The Missing Piece. A heart-warming, fresh and original picture-book event about family and friendship. Beth Suzanna is Hay Festival’s 2023 Illustrator in Residence.
Please bring your own sketchbook and pencils to draw along in this event. You can buy these at the Hay Festival shop.
Cwtch up for this joyful event full of familiar rhymes, riddles and tongue twisters, from ‘Oranges and Lemons’ to ‘She Sells Sea Shells’. Allie Esiri and her guests present these and contemporary favourites such as ‘Baby Shark’ and new rhymes from Floella Benjamin, Julia Donaldson, Brian Bilston and Michael Rosen. Allie’s beautiful anthology A Nursery Rhyme for Every Night of the Year is a definitive collection of nursery rhymes, each introduced with a quirky fact or historical reference.
Please note that the final line-up may be subject to change.
Join the Horrible Histories guru, author and podcast host as he takes you on a trip through the amazing history hidden in the things we use every day. Did you know that the first TV was made out of biscuit tins and knitting needles? Or that the humble paperclip helped lead an anti-war movement? Or that a few hundred years ago it was fashionable to style your hair with cat poo?! Find out the delightful, daft history of everyday life that your teachers won’t tell you about. This is history – but not as you know it!
There will be a BSL interpreter at this event
Spend time in the company of one of our best-loved children’s authors, and the creator of characters including Tracy Beaker and Hetty Feather, Jacqueline Wilson, as she introduces her new book. The former children’s laureate, who has written more than 100 books, brings together the modern world and Victorian London in The Other Edie Trimmer, as the title character finds herself travelling back in time when she begins to write in a Victorian notebook she’s been gifted.
There will be no book signing after this event, but bookplates with Wison’s signature printed on them will be available from the bookshop.
From Icarus to Hades, the characters and stories of Greek myths are some of the best known in the world. But what if the sirens were men luring brave heroines to their death? Or Icara and her mother flew too close to the sun? Or a beautiful man was forced to wed an underworld queen? Comic creator Karrie Fransman and digital wizard Jonathan Plackett explore the art and activism of gender swapping, illuminating the gender binaries hidden in our language, the roles we adopt and the stories we’ve been telling our children for generations.
It’s 60 years since the publication of John Burningham’s touching tale, Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers. One of the goslings in Mr & Mrs Plumpster’s gaggle is born looking a bit different. Borka has no feathers and cannot fly. When winter comes the other geese fly off in search of warmer climates, leaving Borka all alone. Can she find her own place in the world?
Performing arts company Ignite Music celebrates the anniversary with a magical children’s opera based on Burningham’s book, by Tim Yealland and Russell Hepplewhite, including live music, puppetry and digital animation.
Prepare yourself for an exciting prehistoric adventure with TV scientist Garrod, exploring the biggest, deadliest and weirdest predators that ever roamed the planet. Garrod’s unique mix of humour and science will shine a new light on the ever popular world of dinosaurs. Garrod is professor of evolutionary biology and science engagement at the University of East Anglia, and worked with Sir David Attenborough on the BBC’s Attenborough and the Mammoth Graveyard documentary.
Get set for some supercharged family fun with David Walliams’ latest novel, an action-packed comic caper set in a city called Bedlam, about the Police Dog School’s newest recruit and future of crime fighting: Robodog. Despite his inexperience, it’s up to Robodog to help stop the most feared duo in Bedlam, and their evil plans to ruin the city. David introduces his unlikely heroes, despicable baddies and a comedic cast of characters including an ice queen, a giant worm and a dastardly collective of cats.
Mystery and myth await you as debut author Clara Kumagai spins the tale of a Japan fractured in time by an infamous monster. There’s a catfish under the islands and when it rolls the land rises and falls. Sora hates the catfish, whose rolling caused an earthquake so powerful it cracked time itself. It destroyed her home and took her mother. After Sora’s father goes missing too, she has no choice but to venture into uncharted spaces within the ruptured time zones to find him, her mother and perhaps even the catfish itself...
This outstanding coming-of-age YA novel weaves themes of identity, ecology, loss and love. Set in a world of Japanese myth, folklore and magical realism, it’s perfect for fans of Studio Ghibli.
Find your inner fire in this interactive event with Lee Newbery. He’ll introduce his magical novel The Last Firefox and its sequel The First Shadowdragon, a heartwarming story about family and friendship. Explore Newbery’s writing journey and inspiration, then design your own magical creature in a Pokémon card activity and take part in a Welsh animal words quiz! The event will also offer a sensitive introduction to adoption for children in the audience, and celebrate all the different types of families in the world.
Explore friendship and what really matters in families with author Anna Woltz and translator David Colmer as they discuss this funny and heartwarming novel featuring 12-year-old Tess and her friend Sam, on a mission to find a missing dad. My Especially Weird Week with Tess has been made into an award-winning film, My Extraordinary Summer with Tess.
Imagine how boring the world would be if everyone was the same. You’re all amazing! George Webster, CBeebies’ first presenter with Down’s syndrome, shows how every child is unique and that difference is a wonderful thing. George is joined by his co-author and CBeebies producer Claire Taylor and This is Me illustrator Tim Budgen
Celebrate your differences with Webster, an Ambassador for Mencap and a star of Strictly Come Dancing 2022, in this joyous event exploring his hugely uplifting picture book about George, a boy with an exceptionally big heart. This is Me will bring out the glow in everyone!
Drop in and watch aspiring performers, musicians and designers from Hereford College of Arts come together to create an uplifting, joyous short outdoor performance celebrating the poetry of the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho.
Reach for the stars with real-life astronomer Dr Sheila Kanani as she introduces her new book Can You Get Rainbows in Space?, a compendium of space, science and light, told through the colours of the rainbow.
Learn lots of amazing facts such as: why is the world ‘going green’? Is the sky really blue? And what is ultraviolet light? – before being blown away by some colourful science demonstrations and even taking part in one yourself! Dr Sheila will introduce you to all the amazing jobs in the world of space and science to encourage you to dream big.
Patrick Kane was just nine months old when he contracted meningococcal septicaemia in 1998, leading to him becoming a triple amputee. In 2010, he became the youngest person in the world to be fitted with a bionic arm, and has gone on to carry the Olympic torch as part of the London 2012 Olympic Games and speak at TEDxTeen. Now a motivational speaker and campaigner, Kane’s Human 2.0, illustrated by Sam Rodriguez, looks at the leaps in medical engineering and the people he’s met, including Paralympians Richard Whitehead and Blake Leeper, and the world’s first ‘cyborg’ Neil Harbisson.
Bring your intuition to this interactive event and learn about the storytelling power of tarot cards. Podcaster, screenwriter and journalist Caroline O’Donoghue will show you how to use the ancient magical tool for creating stories, characters and situations. O’Donoghue is author of the New York Times bestselling ‘Gifts’ trilogy, an Irish supernatural adventure about a gang of friends who find special powers through the tarot cards. She’ll perform lighthearted tarot readings – expect revelations and lots of laughs.
Research shows that children form their earliest money habits by the age of seven, and Tomlinson is on a mission to teach young people how to form valuable, long-lasting money habits. The Cash is Queen author leads an energetic, interactive event, sharing her top tips and quizzing the audience on their own financial aptitude, making sure the financial habits we form are ones that will have a positive impact.
Journey around the planet with the author and illustrator of If the World Were 100 People, shortlisted for the Royal Society Young People’s Book Prize 2022. Learn about all kinds of cultures in this globe-trotting experience for younger readers. It can be hard to get your head around the scale of our world full of 8 billion people. Imagining the world as a global village of just 100 people makes it much easier to understand all the different aspects of life in our society.
The small-scale world that Jackie McCann and Aaron Cushley have created in their vibrant picture book offers answers to questions such as: are there more males or females? What languages do they speak? Who can read and write? How many have access to the internet or have enough food to eat? Does everyone have access to electricity or clean water? Finding out the answers will help you become a global citizen.
Hay! It’s Ask the Nincompoops! Who invented cheese? What’s the opposite of a kettle? Why do giraffes have eyes? Whatever your question, the Nincompoops will answer it… very badly indeed. Join Andy ‘Mr Gum’ Stanton and Carrie ‘actor and comedian’ Quinlan for a hilarious, interactive event full of rumours, wild flights of fancy and downright lies. Huzzah!
Can you imagine making friends with a grey whale? Are you passionate about protecting our planet? Prepare to be inspired by Hannah Gold’s unforgettable adventure novel The Lost Whale. Hannah’s stories celebrate the love between children and nature and show that no one is too young or insignificant to make a difference. She’ll share the real-life whale watching experience which inspired her book and you can test your knowledge in her wild animals quiz too!
Hannah’s books share her passion for protecting our planet. Her debut, The Last Bear, was an international bestseller, winning the Blue Peter Book Award and the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize as well as being nominated for the Carnegie Medal.
Wowza! The nation’s favourite rapping teacher and the star of the Sky Kids’ smash Wonder Raps is back. So grab your hats, shades, chains and raps and get ready to read and rhyme with MC Grammar LIVE!
MC Grammar uses rap to teach kids cool facts about the world. Set to earworm tunes, his fun, comedic raps help kids learn by stealth.