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.
Belim’s moving memoir The Rooster House: A Ukrainian Family Memoir is a tale of identity and post-Soviet reality told across four generations, as a young woman searches for traces of her great-uncle who disappeared during the 1930s. Kevin Jared Hosein, winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize in 2018, is author of Hungry Ghosts, a novel about violence, religion, family and class, rooted in the wild and pastoral landscape of 1940s colonial central Trinidad. Both use writing to deal with complicated issues linked with identity, colonialism and class struggles. They talk to Rosie Goldsmith, journalist and Director of the European Literature Network.
Take a whip-smart deep dive into what it would really be like to be internet famous at 17, with Bristolian author Amara Sage. Introducing her debut YA novel, Influential, and shooting straight to the heart of the modern day teenage experience – both online and offline – Amara will discuss themes of social media, cancel culture, online trolling, body image and more.
Gary Raymond and guest critics review their pick of Hay Festival content.
Learn how to pay attention to the world like an artist, with Will Gompertz and Jeremy Deller. Gompertz’s See What You’re Missing: 31 Ways Artists Notice the World – and How You Can Too takes us into the minds of artists to show us how to look and experience the world with their heightened powers of perception. Gompertz spent seven years as a director of the Tate Galleries followed by 11 years as the BBC’s Arts Editor, and is now artistic director at the Barbican. Deller is one of Britain’s great contemporary artists, and in Art is Magic brings together for the first time key works from his career alongside the art, pop music, film, politics and history that have inspired him. He won the Turner Prize in 2004 for his work ‘Memory Bucket’. They talk to Katy Hessel, author of The Story of Art Without Men.
Kit de Waal turns her writer’s lens on herself for the first time, with her memoir Without Warning and Only Sometimes: Scenes from an Unpredictable Childhood. In conversation with Booker Prize-winner Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain, Young Mungo), de Waal gives a warm-hearted glimpse into her life growing up in a household of opposites and extremes: her mother rarely cooked, forbade Christmas and birthdays, worked as a cleaner, nurse and childminder and believed the world would end in 1975, while her father stuffed barrels full of goodies for his relatives in the Caribbean, cooked elaborate meals on a whim and splurged money they didn't have. De Waal tells an extraordinary story of an apparently ordinary life.
Earlier this year National Theatre Wales (NTW) staged a three-part production, The Cost of Living, at Swansea Grand Theatre, which combined a live discussion between local leaders and the audience, an adaptation of Franz Kafka’s The Trial to address the nature of State-led persecution, and protest music to empower and inspire. Co-director Anthony Matsena, NTW producer Glesni Price-Jones, journalist and community organiser Shirish Kukarni and cast member Sara Beer reflect on the impact of the performance and the role of theatre in a financial crisis. Chaired by journalist/author Daniel Trilling who contributed to Broke: Fixing Britain's Poverty Crisis.
Conjuring a peculiar Jamaican family in Luton, Colin Grant presents his memoir I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be. He introduces us to his proud mother, Ethlyn, who dreams of escaping their council house; his father Bageye, whose ganja dealing enables Grant’s private school education; and his acerbic uncle, Castus, who predicts Grant’s four BBC disciplinary hearings and berates his nephew for not being black enough. Grant is an author, historian and critic.
Colin Grant is in conversation with writer and comedian Athena Kugblenu.
Acclaimed theoretical physicist and science writer Lawrence M Krauss, in conversation with philosopher AC Grayling, tackles five fundamental mysteries at the forefront of science today: time, space, matter, life, and consciousness. He speaks about the big questions that will shape the state of science for the decades ahead, and why exploring the mysteries that define the scientific forefront – known as the threshold of the unknown – will help us gain a deeper understanding of just how far science has progressed. As well as The Known Unknowns: The Unsolved Mysteries of the Cosmos, Krauss’s books include The Physics of Star Trek and The Physics of Climate Change, and he hosts The Origins podcast.
Feeling that Eurovision fever? As the contest hits the UK, join us for a special Hay Festival take on the celebrations as our panel of expert readers debate the greatest European literature published since Eurovision began in 1956. Champion old favourites and discover new recommendations as we decide who should take our Eurovision of Books crown. You won’t find any nul points given here.
Writer and broadcaster Octavia Bright talks to Dan Richards about her recovery from alcohol addiction, and the parallel story of her father’s descent into Alzheimer’s, as she discusses her new memoir. Moving between London, Cornwall, New York and more, This Ragged Grace is a story of navigating seemingly impossible things without old fixes, and about a reckoning with addiction, loss, self and hope in your twenties and thirties. Bright co-hosts the podcast Literary Friction and has also presented programmes for BBC Radio 4.
In The Whale Tattoo, a giant sperm whale washes up on a Norfolk beach, and tells confused working class lad Joe Gunner that death will follow him wherever he goes. Having stormed out of home two years ago, Joe knows he has to go back, even though it won’t be easy. He turns to his sister, Birdee, the only person who has ever listened, but their bond, as well as the one he has with local fisherman and long-time lover Tim Fysh, is not without trouble. Jon Ransom speaks to comedian and podcaster Cariad Lloyd about his book, writing queer voices and the bond between siblings.
Twin brothers Craig and Charlie Reid emerged 32 years ago with their debut album This Is The Story and the single Letter from America. Since then their enduring appeal across generations has seen them enjoy huge success worldwide. Their songs are timeless, capturing a gamut of human emotions, written with poignancy, emotional honesty, political fire and wit. They feature at weddings, funerals and everything in-between and there is one song, an early celebration of falling head-over-heels in love that is known the world over. Plus, there are many other sublime songs embraced by a multitude that has kept up with The Proclaimers’ studio albums, compilation collections and extensive touring over three decades.
Robin Morgan hosts our Friday night comedy club featuring Bridget Christie, Athena Kugblenu and Isy Suttie. Kugblenu has appeared on shows including Breaking the News, The Russell Howard Hour and Horrible Histories, and hosted the BBC Radio 4 show Athena’s Cancel Culture. Suttie is a musical comedian, writer and actress who played Dobby in the sitcom Peep Show. Christie is star of her own Netflix special and a favourite on Taskmaster whose work includes Channel 4 sitcom The Change and BBC Radio 4 series Bridget Christie Minds the Gap. The event is brought to you by Little Wander, the team behind Machynlleth Comedy Festival.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Ian Goldin, author of Age of the City, we’ll look at the key issue of where and how we live. 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 cities cover 3% of the Earth’s surface area, and more than half of the planet’s people already live in them. Pressures are rising as cities consume up to 80% of global energy and produce 75% of the world’s carbon emissions. Rural communities have their own challenges relating to depopulation, lack of access to services and natural disasters. Urban conurbations are where sustainability, climate and biodiversity ambitions have the greatest impact, but they can only do that if rural communities thrive too. How can we reimagine the relationship between place, prosperity and the wellbeing of future generations? How fast and decisively can we change?
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.
Ukrainian writers currently experiencing the war in Ukraine first-hand and grappling with its impact, meaning and consequences discuss how you begin to process and write about the devastation conflict brings. Oleksandra Matviichuk is a Ukrainian human rights lawyer who heads the non-profit organization Centre for Civil Liberties that was awarded the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. Halyna Kruk is a poet, fiction writer and scholar of Ukrainian medieval literature, who has authored four books of poetry and collected some of Ukraine’s top awards for young poets. Serhiy Zhadan is a poet, writer, translator and winner of last year’s European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Literature Prize for his novel The Orphanage. They talk to Toby Lichtig, fiction and politics editor of The TLS.
Author and journalist Ben Macintyre tells the astonishing inside story of Colditz, the forbidding Gothic castle on a hilltop in the heart of Nazi Germany where a band of British officers spent the Second World War plotting daring escapes from their German captors. With a remarkable cast of characters, Macintyre uncovers a tale of the indomitable human spirit, but also one of class conflict, homosexuality, espionage, insanity and farce. Macintyre is the author of books including A Spy Among Friends and SAS: Rogue Heroes, is a columnist and associate editor at The Times.
If you fancy giving classical music a go, start here. Linton Stephens presents a live edition of the podcast for classical newbies. In this special Hay Festival event, Linton curates a classical playlist for a guest appearing at the Festival who joins him for a fun and frank discussion about their new classical discoveries.
Guides from the Brecon Beacons National Park will lead a gentle walk through the beautiful surrounds of Hay-on-Wye, joined by the BBNP Writer in Residence Owen Thomas.
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.