Travel

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Michael Palin talks to John Crace

Travelling to Work

Hay Festival 2016, 

An interview with the treasured actor, writer, traveller and diarist.

Michael Palin talks to John Crace

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Bear Grylls

Ghost Flight

Hay Festival 2015, 

The adventurer launches his thriller, in which his hero is sent deep into the Amazon jungle on the hunt for a WW2 secret. Grylls’ recent non-fiction includes True Grit, Extreme Food and Your Life – Train For It. He talks to Clemency Burton-Hill.

Bear Grylls

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Michael Rosen

The Disappearance of Emile Zola

Hay Festival 2017, 

18 July 1898 and the world-renowned novelist Emile Zola is on the run. His crime? Intervening in the Dreyfus case and taking on the highest powers in France with his open letter J’accuse. Forced to leave Paris with nothing but the clothes he is standing in and a nightshirt wrapped in newspaper, Zola flees to England with no idea when he will return. This is the little-known story of his time in exile. Rosen offers an intriguing insight into the mind, the loves, the politics and the work of the great writer.

Michael Rosen

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Monty Don

The Road To Le Tholonet: A French Garden Journey

Hay Festival 2013, 

From historical gardens like Versailles and Vaux le Vicomte to the kitchen gardens of the Michelin chef Alain Passard. There are grand potagers, like Villandry and La Prieure D’Orsan, and allotments and back gardens spotted on the way.

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Wayne Smith

The Drove Roads Of The Middle Marches

Hay Festival 2013, 

The historian follows the trail of Welsh drovers down through the centuries as they moved cattle and sheep to the ever-expanding markets of England. And he offers a detailed walks guide for those keen to discern their own drove roads.

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Robert Macfarlane talks to Horatio Clare

Holloway

Hay Festival 2013, 

The new book from the author of The Old Ways. In 2005 Macfarlane and Roger Deakin travelled to explore the holloways of South Dorset’s sandstone. They found their way into a landscape of shadows, spectres and great strangeness. Six years later, after Deakin’s early death, Macfarlane returned to the holloway with the artist Stanley Donwood and writer Dan Richards.

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Ramita Navai

City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search for Truth in Tehran

Hay Festival 2014, 

Far removed from the picture of Tehran that we glimpse in news stories, there is another hidden city where survival depends on an intricate network of lies and falsehoods. It is a place where Mullahs visit prostitutes, cosmetic surgeons restore girls’ virginity and homemade porn is bought and sold in the bazaars. Chaired by Oliver Balch.

Ramita Navai

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Kent Nerburn and Robert Plant talk to Andrew O’Hagan

Neither Wolf Nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder

Hay Festival 2017, 

This special event marks the UK launch of Kent Nerburn’s award-winning work of creative non-fiction depicting the epic and intensely moving journey he made over 20 years ago with a Native American elder named Dan.  Musician Robert Plant picked up a copy of Neither Wolf Nor Dog whilst touring the States in 2014 and his passion for this masterpiece has led to its publication here in Britain.  

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James Evans

Merchant Adventurers

Hay Festival 2014, 

In the spring of 1553 three ships sailed north-east from London into uncharted waters. The scale of their ambition was breathtaking. Drawing on the latest navigational science and the new spirit of enterprise and discovery sweeping the Tudor capital, they sought a northern passage to Asia and its riches. When their ships became separated in a storm, each ship had to fend for itself. Their fates were sharply divided. One returned to England, to recount extraordinary tales of the imperial court of Tsar Ivan The Terrible. The tragic, mysterious story of the other two ships has to be pieced together through the surviving captain’s log book, after he and his crew became lost and trapped by the advancing Arctic winter.

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Paul Theroux talks to Gaby Wood

The Last Train To Zona Verde: Overland From Cape Town To Angola

Hay Festival 2013, 

Journeying alone through the greenest continent in what he feels will be his last African journey, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of post-colonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sun-baked heartland of the savannah, he crosses the ‘Red Line’ into a different Africa.

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Gavin Francis

Empire Antarctica: Ice, Silence & Emperor Penguins

Hay Festival 2013, 

One man, fourteen months, the world’s loneliest continent, minus 50°C, and the magnificent Emperor Penguins for company through a summer of perpetual sunshine into winter months of darkness.

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Michael Jacobs talks to Horatio Clare

The Robber Of Memories: A River Journey Through Colombia

Hay Festival 2013, 

Running through the heart of Colombia is a river emblematic of the fascination and tragedy of South America, the Magdalena, considered by some the most dangerous place in the world. Jacobs is captured by the FARC, has a chance encounter with Gabriel García Márquez and is brought to reflect on memory and identity, and the nature of mystery.

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Geoff Dyer talks to Horatio Clare

Another Great Day At Sea: On Board the USS George Bush

Hay Festival 2014, 

Meeting the captain, the F-18 pilots and the dentists, experiencing everything from a man-overboard alert to the Steel Beach Party, Dyer guides us through the most AIE (acronym intensive environment) imaginable. Underlying Dyer’s efforts to overcome the disadvantages of being the oldest, tallest (actually, second tallest), and most self-conscious person on the boat is an intense fascination with the military world. 


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Gareth Williams

The Viking Ship

Hay Festival 2014, 

The newly-conserved Roskilde 6 ship from Denmark measures over 37 metres. It is the longest Viking ship ever discovered and forms the core of the British Museum exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend. The Vikings used their shipbuilding skills to command the sea; their famous ships permitted the exploration, the colonisation and the raids with which they built their wealth. The curator explores the evolution of their sea-going vessels and celebrates this outstanding feature of the Viking Age.

Gareth Williams

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John Harrison talks to Francesca Rhydderch

1519: Journey to the End of Time

Hay Festival 2015, 

In 1519 an arrogant and unscrupulous man sailed from the Caribbean with orders to find a missing Spanish expedition. He immediately set about carving himself an empire in modern Mexico, while the governor of Cuba sent a force out to kill him. Hernán Cortés explored the coast to Veracruz then struck inland, seduced by tales of a great empire rich in gold. He found the largest and best-run city on earth and reduced it to rubble.

Award-winning travel writer and historian John Harrison followed in his footsteps for four months, finding the jungle ruins and sophisticated hilltop cities which put the lie to the popular image of the Aztecs and their neighbours as bloodthirsty savages. Popular accounts always suggest Cortés was mistaken for a returning god; the truth is very different and far more interesting. Both the Spanish and the Aztecs thought that the world was coming to a close soon, and that they were pleasing their gods in performing vital last deeds.

John Harrison talks to Francesca Rhydderch

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Jo Bell, Libby Purves and Geraint Coles talk to Mark Skipworth

The Book that Saved the Canals

Hay Festival 2014, 

Seventy years ago Tom Rolt published the book Narrowboat and sparked one of Britain’s greatest conservation movements and rescued the nation’s canals from destruction. The Daily Telegraph’sMark Skipworth discusses with journalist Libby Purves, poet Jo Bell and industrial archaeologist Geraint Coles.

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Andrew Duff and John Keay

Beneath the Himalayas

Hay Festival 2015, 

Narendra Modi’s pilgrimage to Tibet heralds a new warmth in Sino-Indian relations, but the emerging superpowers have a long and complex history of contested priorities in the Himalayas. Keay is author of Midnight’s Descendants, a sweeping history of South Asia; Duff’s Sikkim: Requiem for a Himalayan Kingdom tells the remarkable true story of India’s annexation of Sikkim in 1975. It’s a tale of love, intrigue and the Cold War in Asia.

Andrew Duff and John Keay

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Rebecca Solnit

The Faraway Nearby

Hay Festival 2013, 

One summer, the author was bequeathed a hundred pounds of ripening apricots, which lay on her bedroom floor – a windfall, a riddle, an emergency to be dealt with. The fruit came from a neglected tree that her mother, gradually succumbing to memory loss, could no longer tend to. From this unexpected inheritance came stories, invitations and adventures; in a library of water in Iceland, in the basin of the Grand Canyon, in the imagined emptiness of the Arctic. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.

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Levison Wood

Walking the Nile

Hay Festival 2015, 

The adventurer’s journey is 4,250 miles long. He is walking every step of the way, camping in the wild, foraging for food, fending for himself against multiple dangers. He is passing through rainforest, savannah, swamp, desert and lush delta oasis. He traverses seven, very different, countries and comes face to face with the story of Africa. No one has ever made this journey on foot.

Please click here to prebook dinner at Relish Restaurant on site.

Levison Wood

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David Day

Antarctica

Hay Festival 2013, 

A compelling history of the southern-most continent from the C18th voyages of discovery to the fierce rivalries of today, as governments, scientists, environmentalists and oil companies compete for control. Chaired by Oliver Balch.

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Peter Frankopan

The Silk Roads: A New History of the World

Hay Festival 2016, 

From the rise and fall of empires in China, Persia, and Rome to the spread of the great religions and the wars of the C20th, this epic work illuminates how the Silk Roads shaped global history, the axis of East and West. Frankopan is the Director of the Centre for Byzantine Research at Oxford University.

Peter Frankopan

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Simon Armitage

Walking Away

Hay Festival 2015, 

The poet swaps the moorland uplands of the north (Walking Home) for the coastal fringes of Britain’s south west, once again giving readings every night, but this time through Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, taking poetry into distant communities and tourist hot-spots, busking his way from start to finish.

From the surreal pleasure-dome of Minehead Butlins to a smoke-filled roundhouse on the Penwith Peninsula, then out to the Isles of Scilly and beyond, Armitage tackles this personal Odyssey with all the poetic reflection and personal wit we’ve come to expect of one of Britain’s best loved and most popular writers.

Simon Armitage

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John Sergeant

Barging Round Britain

Hay Festival 2015, 

The political commentator and sometime dancer explores the people and places that have forged this national treasure, from the birth of the Industrial Revolution to the leisure explosion on our waterways today. He talks to Mark Skipworth.


Please click here to prebook lunch at Relish Restaurant on site

John Sergeant

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René Griffiths, Jon Gower, Jorge Fondebrider

Homage to Patagonia

Hay Festival 2015, 

An evening to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Welsh passage to Argentina aboard the Mimosa. Gower sets the scene with his Gwalia Patagonia – a tale of legendary giants and Andean condors, devil spirits and chapel-worshippers. He is joined by Argentinian writer Jorge Fondebrider, author of The Spaces Between. The evening is completed with the fascinating anecdotal and geographical ramblings of one of Wales’ best-loved guitarists, singers and actors, René Griffiths. Full of emotion and passion, Ramblings of a Patagonian is the revelation of one-man’s unrelenting love for his own Andean desert. Chaired by Oliver Balch.

René Griffiths, Jon Gower, Jorge Fondebrider

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Carl Watkins

The Undiscovered Country: Journeys Among The Dead

Hay Festival 2013, 

A vivid history of the macabre as the author goes in search of the ancient customs, local characters and compelling tales that illuminate how people over the years have come to terms with our ultimate fate. He discovers what a small Norfolk church has to tell us about the apocalypse; why the greatest minds of the C17th were embroiled in debate over the phantom Drummer of Tedworth; and how a nineteenth-century Welsh druid completely changed the national view of cremation.