Hay Festival 2021

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.

Event FiltersYou are viewing events filtered bySunday 30 May 2021View All

Event HD4

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Dapo Adeola and Swapna Haddow

My Dad is a Grizzly Bear

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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He might have the fuzziest fur that scratches and scritches, and a very loud roar, but I know he’s the perfect dad for me! Take artistic inspiration from this lively new picture book and make your very own grizzly bear dad in an interactive storytelling and drawing event.

3+ years
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Event HD5

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Julian Clary and David Roberts

The Bolds Go Green

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The Bold family are going green, reducing, reusing and recycling as much as they can. But not all of their eco-friendly ideas are welcome, especially when it comes to 'watering' the neighbours' front garden. Hear the brand-new book brought to life by author Julian Clary, and see the illustrations created live by David Roberts.

7+ years
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Event HD6

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Bad Wolf

HIS DARK MATERIALS: FROM PAGE TO SCREEN, WITH DAFNE KEEN, AMIR WILSON, JANE TRANTER AND JACK THORNE

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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When Philip Pullman’s bestseller was adapted by Bad Wolf for HBO/BBC One, it was the highest rated drama launch on British TV in more than five years with over 9 million viewers. Executive Producer Jane Tranter leads a panel discussion with Dafne Keen who plays Lyra, Amir Wilson who plays Will and His Dark Materials Screenwriter Jack Thorne. Together they will be looking at the joys and challenges of bringing the series to life.

9+ Family
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Event 44

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Mererid Hopwood, introduced by Dylan Moore

Language Imagined

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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How have poets imagined language and how do these imaginings help us understand an essential tool of literature? Hopwood is the only woman to have won the three main prizes for poetry and prose in the Eisteddfod, Wales’ national cultural festival. She has been Children's Laureate for Wales and was awarded the Glyndwr prize for her contribution to literature. Her collection Nes Draw won the poetry section of the Welsh language Book of the Year Awards, 2016. Mererid has been awarded the Cymrawd Rhyngwladol Cymru Greadigol Hay Festival 2020-21/Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellowship 2020-21. Dylan Moore held the post in 2019-2020.

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Event 45

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Nick Crane talks to Simon Hancock

Latitude

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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By knowing the shape of our planet we can create maps, survey the oceans, follow rivers, navigate the skies, and travel the globe. This is the story of how we discovered what no one thought possible: the shape of the earth. In 1735, the good ship Portefaix sailed across the Atlantic carrying the world’s first international team of scientists to a continent of unmapped rainforests and ice-shrouded volcanoes. Beset by egos and disease, storms and earthquakes, mutiny and murder, they struggled for ten years to reach the single figure they sought: the length of one degree of latitude. Twenty-five years after the publication of Longitude, this tells the other side of the story, one of our most important geographical discoveries.

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Event 46

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Michael Sheen, Professor Daniel G. Williams and Leanne Wood

Lunchtime Lecture Series 4: Who Speaks for Wales? Raymond Williams at 100

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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Actor and activist Michael Sheen will join the professor Daniel G. Williams and politician Leanne Wood, to discuss the life, work, and continued relevance of Raymond Williams, as a new centenary edition of his collected writings on Wales are published. Michael Sheen says, "Who Speaks for Wales is a truly landmark publication. It has had a profound effect on me and on countless others. The new afterword to this expanded centenary edition shows how Raymond Williams’ thinking is as important and relevant today as it has ever been." Williams noted that Welsh history testifies to a "quite extraordinary process of self-generation and regeneration, from what seemed impossible conditions." This discussion, ranging from 1920s Pandy to wartime Paris, from Extinction Rebellion to Yes Cymru, will be conducted with his words in mind.

This event will be pre-recorded but Professor Williams will be live on the chat to answer questions during the event, and for 15 minutes afterwards.
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Event 47

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Alastair Campbell and Ruby Wax talk to Francine Stock

Living Better

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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How do we take the stigma out of mental illness? What steps can we take to enable us to speak more openly about our state of mind? Alastair Campbell (Living Better: How I Learned to Survive Depression) and Ruby Wax (And Now for the Good News) have both written and spoken openly about their struggles with depression, in the hope that it may encourage others to feel that mental health is no longer a taboo subject. Francine Stock is a writer and broadcaster.

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Event 48

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Jon McGregor talks to Toby Lichtig

Lean Fall Stand

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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When an Antarctic research expedition goes wrong, the consequences are far-reaching for the men involved and for their families back home. Robert 'Doc' Wright, a veteran of Antarctic field work, holds the clues to what happened, but he is no longer able to communicate with them. While his wife Anna navigates her new life as a carer, Robert is forced to learn a whole new way to be in the world. The novel unpicks the notion of heroism and explores the indomitable human impulse to tell our stories, even when words fail us. A meditation on the line between sacrifice and selfishness, this is a story of the undervalued, unrecognised courage it can take just to get through the day.

Toby Lichtig is fiction editor at The TLS.

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Event 49

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Alice Roberts

Ancestors

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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A book about walking in ancient places, in the footsteps of the ancestors, reaching back in time, to find ourselves, and our place in the world. The academic, writer and broadcaster explores what we can learn about the very earliest Britons – from their burial sites. Although we have very little evidence of what life was like in prehistoric times, we can deduce a great deal from the bones and funerary offerings left behind, preserved in the ground for thousands of years. Told through seven burial sites, this prehistory of Britain teaches us about ourselves and how we came to be on this island.

This event will be available to stream for 24 hours only. It will not be available to view on Hay Player.
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Event 50

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Richard Walker and JB MacKinnon talk to Lucy Siegle

The Green Grocer and The Day The World Stops Shopping

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Iceland Foods is a £3bn business that is affecting real change in the supermarket. From restricting single-use plastic to eradicating palm oil from products, MD Walker's aim is to find purpose with profit for his business. He explains how we can all make genuine progress on sustainable initiatives while being realistic about profit margins, and our obligations to customers and employees.

Canadian journalist MacKinnon asks, what would really happen if we simply stopped shopping? Is there a way to reduce our consumption without triggering economic collapse? This question took him around the world, seeking answers from America’s big-box stores, the hunter-gatherer cultures of Namibia, and communities in Ecuador that consume at a sustainable level. When Covid brought shopping to a halt, his ideas were tested in real time. Drawing from experts in fields ranging from climate change to economics, MacKinnon investigates how living with less would change our planet, our society, and ourselves. And along the way, we have so much to gain.

Lucy Siegle is an author, broadcaster and writer on environmental issues.

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Event 51

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony and Cass R. Sunstein talk to Angela Duckworth

The British Academy Platform: Noise

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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We make thousands of decisions every day, from minute choices we don't even know we're making, to great, agonising deliberations. But when every decision we make is life-changing, the way we reach them matters. And for every decision, there is noise. Co-authored by three eminent thinkers, this book teaches us how to understand all the extraneous factors that impact our decision-making – and how to combat them to improve our thinking. Filled with new science, illuminating case studies and practical examples, the skills outlined in this book are relevant to private or public institutions, schools, hospitals, businesses, judges – and to us all.

Daniel Kahneman is known for his work on the psychology of judgment and decision-making. Olivier Sibony is a writer, educator and consultant specializing in strategic decision making. Cass R. Sunstein is an expert on administrative and environmental law. They are in conversation with Angela Duckworth, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, where she studies grit and self-control.

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Event 52

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Graham Norton Book Club with Marian Keyes and Richard Osman

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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In a special event to celebrate the launch of the new Graham Norton Book Club podcast on Audible, sit down with the comedian, actor and broadcaster as he talks to fellow Irish author Marian Keyes (Grown Ups) and Pointless presenter Richard Osman (The Thursday Murder Club).

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Event 53

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

George Monbiot talks to Fatima-Zahra Ibrahim

Everything Is Finite

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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For hundreds of years, we have lived as if the Earth were infinite. We exploited new frontiers, exhausted their resources, then moved on. It's a pattern repeated in forestry, fisheries, mining and agriculture. Now we are transferring this destructive approach to technology, imagining there is an infinite capacity for renewable materials. Bioethanol and biodiesel can replace the transport fuels we use. Biokerosene can take the guilt out of flying. Heating oil and coal can be replaced with wood. But by doing this, food and fuel and industrial materials are in competition with each other. In reality, there is no substitute for consuming less and living within this planet's means. What are the ethical and economic shifts required to accept the finite nature of our world?

George Monbiot is an author, journalist and environmental activist. He is in conversation with the co-director of Green New Deal UK and Winner of the Global Citizen Prize UK’s Hero Award, 2020.


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Event 54

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Lemn Sissay presents...When Bonnie met Ash

Virtual venue: Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
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Bonnie Greer, American-British playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster, talks to trail-blazing Novara Media editor Ash Sarkar about a life in writing and activism. What has changed and what has remained the same? A unique view through the telescope of time from then to now and now to then.

Part of Lemn Sissay's George Floyd: One Year On series.

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Event 55

Events taking place online 24 May - 6 June

Sam Riviere and Megan Nolan in conversation

10@10: New writers – Dead Souls and Acts of Desperation

Virtual venue: Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
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The poet Sam Riviere introduces his debut novel, Dead Souls, about poets, plagiarism, love, technology, feuds and affairs, cancellation and revenge, and how writing really does alter reality. It follows the course of a single night, most of which is spent in the bar at the Travelodge just off Waterloo Bridge. There the unnamed narrator meets Solomon Wiese, a poet who has been ostracized by the community but plans to return to the capital through the theft of poems, illegal war profits and faked social media accounts – plans in which the narrator discovers he is obscurely implicated.

Acts of Desperation is a darkly funny debut novel by Megan Nolan, about a toxic relationship and secret female desire: "He was the most beautiful man I had ever seen. None of it mattered in the end; what he looked like, who he was, the things he would do to me. To make a beautiful man love and live with me had seemed – obviously, intuitively – the entire point of life...How could it be true that a woman like me could need a man's love to feel like a person, to feel that I was worthy of life? And what would happen when I finally wore him down and took it?"

There will be no Q&A at the end of the event.
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