Creating a better world – a YA guide to Hay Festival 2023

We believe that ideas can change the world. Hay Festival is a place for open books and open minds. Never is this more true than when we meet young adults who take part in different ways; through our formal learning programmes or a love of reading for pleasure.

Showcasing the incredible talent, diversity and tolerance of young adults has taught us a lot about the power of words. Often they show us how activism works. They show us how to be an ally and give us hope for the future.

They’ve inspired a strand of our programme that is all about representation. About being seen and heard. We love to see these young readers becoming writers and change makers. We know that through books and words they can absolutely change the world.

We’ve programmed a broad variety of issues based events for audiences aged 11 +. From gender equality with Laura Bates (14+), Gender Swapped Greek Myths (11+) and Hip Hop Poetry with Karl Nova (11+). Some practical advice about finance,(14+), the best-selling LGBTQ+ love story Heartstopper from Alice Oseman (12+) and You don’t know what war is (12+), about the impact of the Ukraine conflict.

Dynamic workshops help young people put their ideas into action through radio production and film making, while pop-up performances and late-night music and comedy keep the creativity flowing into the evening.

And our general programme holds some of the biggest questions (and answers) about representation, equality and the power of books for anyone over 16.

We asked Lowri James, an English Literature, History and Politics A level student from Gower College about their top picks for the Festival this year.

  1. Broadcaster and journalist Gary Younge talks about race and racism. From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter
  2. Watch On the Black Hill, a film adapted from Bruce Chatwin’s 1982 novel about living on a rural farm in Wales. Callum Scott Howells (It’s a Sin, Cabaret) discusses how relevant the story is today
  3. Rebecca F Kuang talks to Chris Power about her first adult contemporary novel, Yellowface. Explore how social media, toxic friendships and identity politics feature in the book
  4. Afghanistan: What’s next for women - Tamana Ayazi in conversation with Lyse Doucet about women in Afghanistan since the Taliban took control in 2021
  5. Speaking Truth to Power through Law and Books with Wendy Joseph, Philippe Sands and Brenda Hale in conversation with Helena Kennedy 
  6.  From London to Ghana and back again, Small Worlds is an expansive novel about the worlds we build for ourselves. Hear from author Caleb Azumah Nelson
  7. Virginia Feito talks to Xiaolu Guo about her debut novel Mrs March 
  8. Carol Ann Duffy and Instrumentalist lohn Sampson join forces to present a unique event of music and words 
  9. See an exclusive recording of Dua Lipa’s podcast featuring author Douglas Stuart, for a deep dive into his Booker Prize winning Shuggie Bain
  10. Stormzy: Five Years of #Merky Books 

Discover more events here and find out about our 25% discount for students here.