Our 2021 Digital Festival took place 26 May - 6th June, the programme is below.
Most of the events are now available in our online archive Hay Player - please see individual listings for more details.
Many of Britain’s rivers are in a sorry state, and the fight to reverse that is felt particularly intensely along the Wye, whose complex ecosystems are ravaged by an unholy trinity of pollution, habitat loss, and climate change. Three experts involved in the restoration of rivers discuss who has the power to help rescue our waterways, and how. Jyoti Banerjee is a co-founder of North Star Transition and launched the Wye-Usk Transition Lab to facilitate and enable the transformation of the landscape for the benefit of all living things in the two catchments. Simon Evans is CEO of the Wye and Usk Foundation, and has been working to restore the Wye for over 20 years. Tessa Wardley is director of communications and advocacy at The Rivers Trust. Nicola Cutcher is an investigative journalist and film-maker.
Channel your inner witch with writers Anya Bergman, Juno Dawson and Emilia Hart, as they chat all things ‘witch lit’. Bergman’s debut novel, The Witches of Vardø, is a vividly detailed story of female adventure and emancipation during the Vardø witch trials in 17th- century Norway, while Dawson’s Her Majesty’s Royal Coven and its sequel The Shadow Cabinet imagine a UK in which witches have their own – secret – government department. Hart’s Weyward is about three women in different times, trapped by the whims of men. The trio talk about what makes witcherature so enduringly popular, how their characters seek to reclaim what is meant by the word ‘witch’, and discuss their favourite witches in popular culture.
We’re constantly being warned about the need to act to save our planet from the effects of climate change and ecological emergency. Yet at the same time, adverts for highly polluting lifestyles – from airlines, car makers and more – are also everywhere. Are we slow to act on climate change because we’re getting mixed messages, and is it time to implement bans, like those on tobacco adverts, on major polluters? Author Andrew Simms, co-director of the New Weather Institute and joint founder of the Badvertising campaign, and Veronica Wignall, co-director of Adfree Cities, are joined by students from Festival partner Hereford College of Arts, who have been working on a project that turns the table on adverts.
The comedian, writer and actor known for his sharp suits, acerbic wit and riotous storytelling has finally moved out of his parents’ house, meaning he has lots of life updates to give, from getting audience opinions on his vegetable patch and delving into the protocol of inviting friends with children for dinner. Tom Allen is the host of The Apprentice: You’re Fired and co-hosts Cooking With The Stars, Like Minded Friends and appears as a commentator on Bake Off: An Extra Slice. Prepare for a stomach-achingly funny evening.
Husband and wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman are back with their seventh album Almost a Sunset, a collection of thoughtful, varied songs that range from reworked traditional ballads to the off-piste storytelling style that has become their trademark. Recorded in their studio on Dartmoor over the course of a year, the couple explore favourite characters, childhood memories and deep emotion. Roberts and Lakeman have been a partnership for more than 25 years, from their early days in folk supergroup Equation through to the present.
How does growing up in rural Britain impact a poet’s work when their cultural heritage has deep roots elsewhere? Poetry organisation Apples and Snakes presents an hour of poetry and conversation with three dynamic spoken word poets hosted by literary activist Rufus Mufasa. Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa is a British-born Barbadian-raised choreo-poet. Her debut poetry collection Cane, Corn & Gully was shortlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize. Malaika Kegode is a writer, performer and creative producer based in Bristol whose work is focused on uplifting and celebrating the overlooked and misunderstood. Saili Katebe is a writer born in Zambia and based in the South West of England who is signed to Nymphs & Thugs, the UK’s leading spoken word record label.
Come and hear the writers share and discuss some of their recent work. The Hay Writers’ Circle is a dynamic group, active in Hay for more than 40 years. It offers three competitions annually for poetry, fiction and non-fiction, each of which is open to both members and non-members. There is an active work in progress group for those working on longer projects. The Circle has an ongoing, productive relationship with a local primary school.
Start your day with a morning yoga class designed to reinvigorate your energy and spirit. Enjoy a grounding, energising, alignment‐based yoga practice, using the breath and sound to rediscover and rejuvenate the body and mind. Beginners and experienced students are most welcome. Yoga mats and props are provided.
Please contact Kanga Wellbeing on email@example.com for any questions relating to these classes. As capacity is limited, we recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment.
Kanga Wellbeing will also be onsite throughout the Festival offering wellbeing and a wide range of holistic massage therapies. Therapies will be held in cosy lotus belle tents with heaters and fans. For more information or to book, please visit www.kangaevents.com/hay-
Bring your best ideas to this solutions-focused workshop session. Facilitated by sustainability entrepreneur Andy Middleton, Chief Exploration Officer at the TYF Group, and joined by Sara Vaughan, advisor to the Sustainable Beauty Coalition Steering Committee, and digital fashion pioneer Kadine James, we’ll look at the key issue of what we wear. We’ll discuss the scale of the issue and a range of solutions, how to action them, how they might impact on their lives and how to manage the change.
Our never-ending passion for the latest styles and designs has been created by marketing and carries a huge social and environmental cost. The fashion industry accounts for a massive 8–10% of global carbon emissions and nearly 20% of wastewater production. While the environmental impact of flying is well known, fashion sucks up more energy than both aviation and shipping combined and this can’t continue. A growing band of entrepreneurs and fashionistas are rethinking fashion, asking: how can we create a green, regenerative fashion industry by sharing, reusing and redefining what ends up in our wardrobes from the High Street and online stores?
This workshop is part of our Hay Festival Planet Assembly, a daily, inclusive conversation over ten days involving lay people, scientists, commentators and experts. We want to empower everyone to be accelerators and multipliers for the dramatic policy transformations that are needed immediately to tackle the acute climate and biodiversity emergencies.
From tree to timber – a chance to see for yourself how a small-scale, sustainable wood is managed. We’ll visit planting sites, ecosystem care and tree grading, and go into the sawmill to see the log being converted into timber. Find out what the challenges and opportunities are for the timber industry.
Your tour leaders will be: Will Bullough, former owner and initiator of Whitney Sawmill, now planter and manager of Whitney Wood; Dermot Doyne, manager of Whitney Sawmill, now owned by the charity Woodland Heritage which is committed to the promotion and protection of UK broadleaf woodlands; and Nick Smith, a woodland officer with the Forestry Commission for 44 years.
There will be uneven ground and steep paths so please wear sturdy footwear.
A little light ridicule, mockery and fun to start the day as the satirists read the tabloids and surf the social media storms for an irreverent look at what’s tickling the nation’s fancy – and driving it to splenetic fury – today.
Learn how to grow a beautiful garden – anywhere – with the Gardeners’ World presenter. He shares his secrets for getting the most out of a garden space whatever its size, whether it's a window box, a terrace with a few pots or a bigger space with dedicated veg plots and borders, and emphasises how the meaning of a garden lies in what you bring inside, from vegetables and herbs to make a family meal to flowers and seedheads to decorate the house. And Frost also explores how his own garden has allowed him to enjoy the simple pleasures in life and create precious memories.
Get stuck in with this special, hands-on event with the acclaimed potter, former contestant on The Great Pottery Throwdown and author of The Potter’s Way: Heal your Mind and Unleash your Creativity through the Power of Clay. Florence St George, who took up pottery after feeling lost after the birth of her daughter, will demonstrate how to make a pinch pot. Audience members can join in using air clay that can be taken away and dried at home.
Guides from the Brecon Beacons National Park will lead a gentle walk through the beautiful surrounds of Hay-on-Wye. The National Park is also home to a UNESCO geopark. During this walk, the Park’s Geopark Officer will offer a journey through deep time, exploring the geology of the hills. You’ll be joined by a guest from the Festival programme.
Hay-on-Wye is based within 520 square miles of beautiful landscape that makes up Bannau Brycheiniog (Brecon Beacons) National Park. The National Park is driving change to bring about a sustainable future, meeting our needs within planetary boundaries. Their Hay Festival series of gentle walks will take you into the town’s local environment while offering the opportunity to learn more about the Park’s work and its treasured landscape.
Please wear appropriate footwear and outdoor gear.
Welcome back Daniel Morden, a Festival favourite. He’s a captivating teller of traditional stories and author of books including Dark Tales from the Woods and Secret Tales from Wales. In 2017 we awarded him the Hay Festival Medal for his services to storytelling. This year he brings a brace of creepy tales for older children and brave adults. Expect drama, danger, a sprinkling of gore and an oversharing squirrel…
Enjoy exploring your feelings through colour in this creative workshop with Anna Llenas, author of the Colour Monster books and I Love You (Nearly Always). The Colour Monster is all confused! He is happy, sad, angry, calm and scared all at the same time. How can he sort the emotions out and learn to live with them? You’ll create your own Colour Monster with Anna and see how colours can be mood busters for all ages.
An opportunity to get crafting! Activities differ every day, including everything from print-making to junk modelling with recycled materials. Get messy and creative: your imagination is the limit.
Book for the session and you can drop in at any point during the 2.5 hour duration. Accompanying adults: please stay in attendance at all times, but you do not require a ticket.
World-renowned veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick shares some of the most powerful tales ever from his life as the Supervet. Following on from his memoir How Animals Saved My Life, in Beyond Supervet: How Animals Make Us The Best We Can Be Fitzpatrick explores how our relationships with animals can bring out the best in each of us and introduces some of the animals he has tried to help, the families who love them and the deeply personal challenges he has faced along the way. Fitzpatrick is a world-renowned neuro-orthopaedic veterinary surgeon and star of the hit Channel 4 television show The Supervet.
Fitzpatrick is in conversation with journalist and editor Alex Clark.
Sebastian Barry and Liz Nugent discuss their novels featuring reclusive and lonely characters whose quiet lives are unexpectedly changed. Barry’s Old God’s Time sees retired policeman Tom Kettle pulled into the darkest currents of his past when two former colleagues turn up at his door with questions about a decades-old case. The title character of crime fiction writer Nugent’s Strange Sally Diamond becomes the centre of attention after she follows her father’s instructions to put him out with the rubbish when he dies, eventually leading to messages from a stranger who knows far more about her past than she does herself. The writers talk to Rosie Goldsmith, journalist and Director of the European Literature Network.