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The full programme is available for this year’s festival, 25 May to 4 June - you can download a PDF of the programme here. We very much look forward to seeing you in May.

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Hay Castle Tour 14

Will Davies - Archaeologist, Cadw

Event 528 Venue: Meet inside Hay Castle

Discover a world of stories in Hay Castle’s thousand years of tempestuous history with a series of guided tours of the Medieval keep, Jacobean mansion and Victorian service buildings, led by a range of experts from Royal Commission of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Cadw, National Trust Wales, Hay History Group and Hay Castle Trust.
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Sue Best, Phil Bowen

Have-a-go Shakespeare with The Willow Globe

Event W18 Venue: Summer House

No am-dram experience necessary. This workshop is open to adults who  fancy the opportunity to tread the boards and tackle the Bard. You will have the chance to read, explore, perform and have fun with Shakespeare. Sue Best and Phil Bowen run The Willow Globe, a scaled down, living version of the Globe in London, created with living willow, on an organic farm in mid-Wales. Their professional experience in theatre includes many years with the Royal Shakespeare Company, the English Shakespeare Company, the Royal Opera House and the Old Vic.

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Ticket to Dine

Friday Late Lunch

Event DT11 Venue: Relish Festival Restaurant

Book a seat in the Relish Festival Restaurant and receive a free drink on us.


Enjoy a delicious meal from our Festival Restaurant buffet. Choose from a wide selection of hot and cold dishes created fresh on site by our team of chefs using the best local seasonal produce. You can view the menu online here.


Come up to the buffet and choose as much as you like from all the dishes on offer for just £20. 


By booking online or by phone you will receive a complimentary glass of wine, bottle of beer or soft drink, and guarantee your seat in the restaurant where our team will be waiting to give you a warm welcome.


Alex Gooch breads and water are free for every customer, with a selection of desserts to choose from as well as a full bar and barista coffees.

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Oliver James

Not in Your Genes

Event 367 Venue: Telegraph Stage

Oliver James

The clinical psychologist explores the childhood causes of our individuality, “revealing why our upbringing, not our genes, plays such an important role in our wellbeing and success. The implications are huge: as adults we can change, we can clutch our fates from predetermined destiny, as parents we can radically alter the trajectory of our children’s lives, and as a society we could largely eradicate criminality and poverty.” James will also illustrate his thesis through a new book he has written about the impact of David Bowie’s childhood on his work and public personas. Chaired by Daniel Davis.

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Simon Horobin

How English Became English

Event 368 Venue: Llwyfan Cymru - Wales Stage

The English Language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? The Oxford Professor investigates the evolution of the English language, examining how it continues to adapt, as English continues to find new speakers and new uses. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, he considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English Language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or are we witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes?

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Wendell Steavenson talks to Katrin Bennhold

Circling the Square: Stories from the Egyptian Revolution

Event 369 Venue: Good Energy Stage

Wendell Steavenson talks to Katrin Bennhold

On 25 January 2011, the world was watching Cairo. Egyptians of every stripe came together in Tahrir Square to protest Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of brutal rule. After many hopeful, turbulent years, however, Egypt seems to be back where it began, with another strongman, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, in power. How did this happen?

The distinguished foreign correspondent uses literary reportage to describe the intimate ironies and ad hoc movements of the Egyptian revolution from Mubarak’s fall to that of Mohammed Morsi. Vignettes, incidents, anecdotes, conversations, musings, observations and character sketches cast a fresh light on this vital Middle Eastern story. Chaired by Katrin Bennhold of the New York Times.

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S J Parris talks to Rosie Goldsmith


Event 370 Venue: Oxfam Moot

S J Parris talks to Rosie Goldsmith

S J Parris is the bestselling author of Prophecy and Heresy. Her historical thrillers follow the renegade monk, philosopher and heretic Giordano Bruno, as he uncovers dark mysteries and plots in Elizabethan England. The fifth book in the series finds Bruno in peril at the French court of King Henri III, under the terrifying eye of the Queen Mother, Catherine de Medici.

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The Art of Adaptation

BBC Radio Drama

Event 371 Venue: BBC Tent

Alison Hindell, BBC’s Head of Audio Drama, in conversation with two leading writers and radio dramatists, Rachel Joyce (author of international bestseller The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry) and Lin Coghlan (award-winning writer of Radio 4’s acclaimed adaptations of Olivia Manning’sThe Fortunes of War and Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables), about the particular skills involved in adapting prose fiction for radio drama. What choices need to be made in considering how to capture or reinvent the original author’s work?

Not for broadcast.

Radio Drama

Under 16s must be accompanied by an adult over 18 years


Free but ticketed
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Kate Humble and Neil Sinclair talk to Andy Fryers

WoodWatch – Woodland Trust Series

Event 372 Venue: Starlight Stage

With their bluebells, blackbirds and beech trees, our woodlands are beautiful and inspiring places to explore. Discover why the British love nature-watching, and how it can help protect our woods and trees. Wildlife and science broadcaster Kate Humble is joined by Neil Sinclair, author of the 'Commando Dad' series.

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Suman-Lata Sahonta

Subject Areas – Physics, Maths

Event 574 Venue: Compass

Please drop in to our new Compass venue, quiz leading academics about their subject and engage in some critical thinking. As part of Hay Festival 2016 and with help from the Welsh Government we have invited a range of university lecturers and speakers to drop in, talk about their subject areas and about university life.

Dr Sahonta works at the University of Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride.

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Michael Morpurgo

War Story

Event HD69 Venue: Tata Tent

Michael Morpurgo’s modern First World War classic Private Peaceful is the focus of this event commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. The best-selling author talks about his dramatic and moving story, its origins, and about writing about war and the consequences of conflict.

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Rachel Bright

The Lion Inside

Event HD70 Venue: Cube

The author and illustrator introduces a lion who is just a little bit different. When a mouse meets a lion it’s easy to guess who will be more afraid…or is it? Find out how this lion can overcome his fears and discover his own true bravery.

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Graphic novel workshop

With the National Army Museum

Event W15 Venue: Scribblers Hut

Would you like to find out more about the role women play in the military? The National Army Museum has been working with writer Helen Cross and artist Carol Adlam to explore the experiences of female soldiers in the past and today.  Together they have created a graphic novel to celebrate those hidden voices and teach us about the many tasks women have performed in the army. Come and learn how to draw your own version of the army code breaker, Betty, discover the objects used to inspire the graphic novel and make your own code.

8 - 12 year-olds
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David Aaronovitch

The Christopher Hitchens Lecture

Event 373 Venue: Tata Tent

David Aaronovitch

The journalist interrogates the ideas of safe space on campus, the psychology of “vindictive protectionism” and the practice of “no-platforming” speakers. In a political culture that is susceptible to polarisation, where social media amplifies grievance and offence, how do we wield free speech? Aaronovitch discusses his lecture with Clemency Burton-Hill. He talks about his memoir Party Animals: My Family and Other Communists on Sunday 

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Hugh Sebag-Montefiore

Somme: Into the Breach

Event 374 Venue: Telegraph Stage

Planned as a decisive strike but fought as a bloody battle of attrition in 1916, the Battle of the Somme claimed over a million dead or wounded in months of fighting that have long epitomized the tragedy and folly of the First World War. By focusing on the first-hand experiences and personal stories of both Allied and enemy soldiers, Sebag-Montefiore defies the customary framing of incompetent generals and senseless slaughter. In its place, eyewitness accounts relive scenes of extraordinary courage and sacrifice, as soldiers ordered over the top ventured into No Man’s Land and enemy trenches, where they met a hail of machine-gun fire, thickets of barbed wire, and exploding shells. Chaired by Jesse Norman.

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Mike Parker Pearson

Stonehenge: The Welsh Connection

Event 375 Venue: Llwyfan Cymru - Wales Stage

Mike Parker Pearson

Excavation of two quarries in the Preseli hills in Pembrokeshire by a UCL-led team of archaeologists and geologists has confirmed that they are sources of Stonehenge’s ‘bluestones’ and shed light on how they were quarried and transported. “We have dates of around 3400 BC for Craig Rhos-y-felin and 3200 BC for Carn Goedog, which is intriguing because the bluestones didn’t get put up at Stonehenge until around 2900 BC,” says Professor Parker Pearson. “It could have taken those Neolithic stone-draggers nearly 500 years to get them to Stonehenge, but that’s pretty improbable in my view. It’s more likely that the stones were first used in a local monument – somewhere near the quarries – which was then dismantled and dragged off to Wiltshire. Stonehenge was a Welsh monument from its very beginning. If we can find the original monument in Wales from which it was built, we will finally be able to solve the mystery of why Stonehenge was built and why some of its stones were brought so far…”

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Philippa Malmgren

Signals – How Everyday Signs can Help us Navigate the World’s Turbulent Economy

Event 376 Venue: Good Energy Stage

Philippa Malmgren

The rising price but shrinking size of a steak, a bar of chocolate, and an apartment not only cause pain at home, they also propel some nations to deploy their militaries to secure resources and protect their citizens from higher prices. The economist, global strategist and presidential adviser reveals how our daily lives are informed and affected by the on-going battle, created by central bankers, between inflation and deflation.

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Suman-Lata Sahonta

Cambridge Series 18: How Light can Improve your Life

Event 377 Venue: Oxfam Moot

Those teeny lights aren’t just for show: LEDs help us to sleep better, fight cancer, prevent identity theft, and communicate with the Internet of Things. Dr Sahonta is based at the Cambridge Centre for Gallium Nitride.

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Lucy Hawking

George and the Blue Moon

Event HD71 Venue: Starlight Stage

Explore Space with the daughter of the famous physicist with whom she co-wrote the book, as she shares George’s fifth fabulous adventure. This time he and his friend Annie have been selected to train as junior astronauts, but bad things are happening in space, with mysterious missions taking off unsupervised. How can they be sure they’ll be safe?

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Cecelia Ahern and Christopher Vick

Event HD72 Venue: Cube

The best-selling author of Flawed and the debut author of Kook discuss teen life, the key issues in writing YA fiction and what really matters to their readers. Chaired by HAYDAYS director Julia Eccleshare.

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