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.
Diana Evans, whose 2018 novel Ordinary People won the South Bank Sky Arts Award for Literature, returns with a new London-set story, A House for Alice. Following a family whose matriarch, the titular Alice, decides after 50 years of living in London that she wants to live out the rest of her days in the land of her birth – Nigeria – the novel is a look at family secrets and tensions set against the shadows of the Grenfell disaster and a country in turmoil. Dani Shapiro’s most recent novel Signal Fires is a meditation on family, memory, and the healing power of interconnectedness, telling the story of two families bound together in ways they never could have imagined.
Roma Agrawal’s best known feat is London’s towering Shard, so it’s fair to say she knows a thing or two about engineering. As a writer and broadcaster, she also knows how to explain complicated concepts clearly. Join her as she discusses the complex feats of engineering she deconstructs in Nuts and Bolts: Seven Small Inventions That Changed the World, and how they all rely on seven fundamental inventions: the nail, spring, wheel, lens, magnet, string and pump. Together, these inventions have enabled humans to construct stunning buildings, communicate across vast distances, and even explore other planets. You’ll leave marvelling at simplicity behind some of the most powerful and spectacular inventions of our time. Agrawal talks to Georgina Godwin, journalist and Books Editor for Monocle 24.
You’re Dead To Me is the award-winning, chart-topping BBC Radio 4 comedy podcast that takes history seriously. After a riotously successful outing at Hay Festival last year, host Greg Jenner returns with two exciting new guests – a top comedian and an expert historian – to explore another fascinating topic from world history.
The show is 90 minutes long, may contain adult language and is not suitable for children.
Explore Ayurveda, the ancient sister science of Yoga, with Emma Bonnici, founder of Kanga Wellbeing. Discover your body type and dosha, and ignite your digestive fire to balance your body and mind, diving deep into the depths of your true nature. According to the Ayurveda system, people have different biological body types, and our biological energies vary according to our lifestyles. It is vital to maintain balance in the body to stay healthy and to transcend though the body and mind to connect with your spirit, your soul, your higher power and the source of your being: inner bliss. Ayurveda aims to maintain health in the body by keeping you in balance with the five elements of life (earth, water, fire, air and space).
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-
On Henry Kissinger’s 100th birthday, David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee and former UK Foreign Secretary, discusses the American century – and whether we’re still living in it – with David Runciman. They’ll be joined by Helen Thompson, author of Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century, for a special live episode of Runciman’s new podcast Past Present Future, presented in partnership with the London Review of Books.
Ever wondered how science becomes fiction? Join Sherlock and Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat and These Days author Lucy Caldwell in conversation with physics professor Rob Appleby as they discuss Collision: Stories From the Science of CERN, a unique collaboration pairing a team of authors with physicists at CERN, the European Organisation for Nuclear Research. From the possibilities of interstellar travel using quantum tunnelling to first contact with antimatter aliens, the trio talk about exploring these scientific steps through fiction and essays.
Tim Spector has pioneered a science-based approach to nutrition, and in Food for Life: The New Science of Eating Well he delivers a guide to what we should know about food today, from environmental impact and food fraud to allergies and deceptive labelling. Spector is a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London. Chris van Tulleken explains that most of our calories today come from ultra-processed foods (UPF), which make up to 60% of our diet. An NHS doctor, he reveals in Ultra-Processed People: Why do we all eat Stuff That Isn’t Food … and Why Can’t we Stop? what UPF is doing to our bodies, from altering metabolism to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and dementia. Crucially, he also provides solutions. In conversation with Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor and author of Breathtaking: Inside the NHS in a Time of Pandemic.
Jenny Radcliffe learnt the art of breaking and entering from her family, and is now a professional burglar for hire and con artist. As a social engineer, she uses psychology, stagecraft and charm to gain access to some of the most exclusive properties in the world, exposing their security weaknesses. In People Hacker, Radcliffe reveals how her working class upbringing and femininity in a male-dominated industry helped her become a sought-after social engineer, and shares some of the dangerous situations she’s found herself in, from the back streets of Liverpool to the mansions of gangsters in the Far East. You won’t make a security mistake again after hearing her speak.
Your chance to quiz an expert panel of writers and publishers comprising Jannat Ahmed, editor-in-chief at the magazine and book publisher Lucent Dreaming, Richard Lewis Davies, founding partner of Parthian Books, Rachel Lloyd, creative editor and head of publishing at bilingual publisher Atebol, Alexa Price, marketing executive at Graffeg, and Gwenllian Elis, author of Welsh language novel Sgen i’m Syniad. They discuss the challenges and opportunities facing the publishing sector in Wales, Welsh identity and the growth of the Welsh language, multiculturism and diversity, and look at how we can put Welsh publishing on the global map. Introduced by Cyhoeddi Cymru Publishing Wales and chaired by broadcast journalist and academic Hanna Hopwood.
Yearning for adventure, cellist-singer and environmental activist Smout embarked on a month-long odyssey to Iceland, travelling by boat via Orkney, Shetland and the Faroes. These experiences inspired her entrancing and transportive solo show Eyjar, the Old Norse word for ‘islands’. The show explores our connections to place, the different lenses through which we view the land, and what that means for our relationship with nature. Join Smout for an evening of visceral storytelling, bristling with atmosphere created with live-looped cello, haunting melodies and deeply felt lyrics that are never too far from the sea.
Classicist and reformed stand-up comedian Natalie Haynes explores the wider resonance of a life from the ancient world: funny, irreverent, erudite and full of fire.
PRESENTED BY DE BALIE
Europe has always been a haven for people fleeing repression, where freedom of the press, freedom of speech and expression are guaranteed. But is that still true? In 2021, the International Federation of Journalists reported that six journalists had been killed that year and 95 others were in prison in Europe. Why does Europe fail to acknowledge the pressure journalists are under in an increasingly violent climate? How can we support journalists in protecting democracy and freedom? Journalists from across Europe discuss the challenges they face. Veronika Munk is a journalist and former editor-in-chief of the independent news platform Telex.hu in Hungary; Antonio Baquero is an investigative journalist in Spain covering organized crime and corruption worldwide; Irina Nedeva is senior editor at Horizon Radio in Bulgaria, committed to defending human rights, art, media and freedom of speech.
The River Tigris – the birthplace of civilisation – has been the lifeblood of ancient Mesopotamia and modern Iraq, but geopolitics and climate change have left it at risk of becoming uninhabitable. Writer, broadcaster and explorer Leon McCarron shares stories from his incredible, beautiful and occasionally dangerous journey by boat along the full length of the river, recounted in his book Wounded Tigris: A River Journey through the Cradle of Civilisation. Sometimes harassed by militias and relying on the generosity of a network of strangers to reach the Persian Gulf, McCarron explains why it’s crucial to save this extraordinary river, and what its survival, or destruction, could mean for us all.
McCarron talks to actor, author and broadcaster Tony Robinson.
TikTok comedian and podcaster Fatima, known as Fats, is here to tell you that you are the hero that your story needs. Born with the genetic condition achondroplasia, which affects the growth of bones, she’s had to develop her superpower. In Main Character Energy, she shares how through the good and the bad times, she’s learned a few lessons which have made her fearless, and taught her how to be her own champion. With some sage advice and more than a few jokes, Fats teaches you how to embody main character energy with her 10 commandments for living fearlessly.
Fats Timbo is in conversation with TikTok creator Benjy Kusi, author of Hope this Helps.
Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952 when Britain still claimed an empire and kids played on bomb sites in the wake of the Second World War. Seventy years on, her reign has come to an end and the UK is a vastly changed place.
How did we get from there to here in a single reign? To cancel culture, anti-vaxxers and Twitter feeds? Author and journalist Matthew Engel, author of The Reign: Life in Elizabeth's Britain, Part I: The Way It Was, 1952–79 tells the story – starting with the years from Churchill to Thatcher – with his own light touch and a wealth of fascinating, forgotten and often funny detail.
In conversation with the journalist and Prospect Contributing Editor, Tom Clark.
Grammy-winning songwriter, singer, and record producer Robinson traces the story of her nearly 40-year friendship and songwriting partnership with Leonard Cohen, giving glimpses of life behind the scenes, performing songs they wrote together and showing photographic imagery.
Jason Byrne has not only had his heart unblocked and been given a new lease of life, but his whole career has been unblocked too! The constipation of Covid has been cleared, live entertainment has been colonically irrigated and readied up for us all. The bans from social media platforms have been lifted and Jason is back dishing up platters of fun to everyone. Join Jason live on stage as he unleashes what he does best. Guaranteed pure and utter unblocked joy and laughter. (This guarantee is not guaranteed.)
Enjoy an evening of dazzling entertainment from Black Mountains Burlesque. Five dancers bring a riot of colour to the Festival with a series of bedtime stories for grown-ups. Experience classic stories brought to life with wit, glamour and laughter, behold the spectacle and be blown away by the playful art of seductive tease…
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.
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 Phil Kloer, Deputy Chief Executive of Hywel Thar University Health Board and geriatitian, Rose Anne Kenny, we’ll look at the key issue of health. 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 health systems are creaking due to ageing populations, Covid, and recruitment and funding challenges. The impact on wellbeing of the climate emergency and loss of biodiversity is serious and not yet fully understood. Our bodies are not built to handle the new stresses of heat, pollution and the breakdown of natural systems. We need a new map for change that meets the needs of current and future generations. How do we create an economy that puts the health of people and nature first?
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.