Welcome to the Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2021 programme.
You will need to purchase tickets whether you attend in person or watch online.
If you wish to attend in person, please see the individual listings below for ticket prices.
If you intend to watch online, the best value option is the Online Festival Pass for £25, which will allow you to watch all streamed events either live or on replay for the duration of the festival. Individual online event tickets cost £5 each. Please note that the Online Festival Pass is for viewing events online only.
To whet your appetite, there will also be five Winter Warmer events to watch and enjoy online featuring Matt Haig, Siri Hustvedt, Bill McKibben, Steven Pinker, and the 2021 Booker Prize winner. These events will be free for everyone to watch and will be available online on our website from 15 November.
Anyone attending in-person must adhere to current Welsh Government Covid-19 guidelines and the entry requirements of the Festival, which can be found here.
The Oxford mathematician has a passion for shortcuts. After all, they have enabled much of human progress, whether in constructing the first cities around the Euphrates five thousand years ago, using calculus to determine the scale of the universe or in writing today's algorithms that help us find a new life partner.
So, how do you remember more and forget less? How can you earn more and become more creative just by moving house? And how do you pack a car boot most efficiently? Thinking Better offers clever strategies for daily complex problems. This is your shortcut to the art of the shortcut.
The global adventurer, Chief Scout and TV presenter chronicles his remarkable adventures and toughest expeditions in an autobiography that captures the exhilarating reality behind some of his scariest survival missions.
The follow-up to Mud, Sweat and Tears, he takes readers behind the scenes on Man vs. Wild and reveals what it's really like to go Running Wild with President Obama, Roger Federer and Julia Roberts. Along the way, he discovers the true value of adventure, and the enduring power of courage, kindness and a ‘never give up’ spirit.
Recording dizzying changes in culture and politics, the playwright’s elegant essays range in subject from the photographer Lee Miller to a former Archbishop of Canterbury, from actor Sarah Bernhardt to rapist Jimmy Savile, from a celebration of Mad Men to a diagnosis of the incoherence of Conservatism in the 21st century.
The poems, in contrast, are private: tender meditations, filled with love, memory, vulnerability and the melancholy of ageing. This is a powerful compilation of prose and poetry by one of the distinctive thinkers of our time.
He discusses his work with writer and broadcaster Francine Stock.
We all rely on our gut feelings, but intuition is a terrible guide. If we believed what our minds tell us, we’d all think the world is flat (it’s not even round), the sun orbits the Earth (nope), and that a day is made up of 24 hours (close but also no). Drs Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry explain that reality is not what it seems, common sense is neither common nor sensible, and our minds have evolved to lie to us all the time. They journey through time and space, from the beginnings of life on Earth to the wondrous aliens elsewhere in the galaxies, from the darkest depths of infinity – via a hypnotised snail – to the brightest recesses of our minds.
Presenting two of the year’s most exciting debut writers: Kean won this year’s Wales Book of the Year for her first novel, Salt, and Thorp’s reimagining of King Lear, entitled Learwife, is released this month.
Salt is set in Cardiff in the late 1800s, based on the lives of Kean's great-grandparents who married in 1878. Ellen, a domestic, dreams of escaping from her dreary life to a new beginning at sea. When she falls in love with Samuel, a ship’s cook from Barbados, she fulfils her fantasy by running away with him.
In Learwife, King Lear is dead, having been driven mad and betrayed. His three daughters, too, have been broken in battle. But someone has survived: Lear’s queen. Exiled to a nunnery years before and written out of history, now she can tell her story.
The journalist and broadcaster (Countryfile, Woman’s Hour) didn’t fit in anywhere as a young girl. She was destined to stand out: from playing Mary in her otherwise all-white nursery nativity play to growing up in 1980s Yorkshire with her Punjabi family, trying to navigate her Indian world at home and the British world outside the front door. In her new book, she shares the lessons she wishes her younger self could have known: “Freedom is complicated”, “You will fall in love and be loved” and, most importantly, “Your anger is legitimate”. This is a coming-of-age story of a second-generation British Indian woman in the north of England, and of a life lived with positivity and humour.
From the time local historian Peter Ford became a guide to Hay Castle, he has been intrigued by its most famous – and infamous – occupant, Matilda de Braose.
Moll Walbee, as she was known to the local Welsh, established herself so strongly in the town that when King John sent a letter he addressed her as ‘the Lady of Hay’. This at a time when women were virtually invisible in society. The author discusses Matilda’s achievements, her fame and downfall, and the legends surrounding her. He talks to the archaeologist and TV presenter Jules Hudson (Escape to the Country, Countryfile).
The bass guitarist tells the inside story of the band that became a global music phenomenon. From humble origins in London's spit-and-sawdust pubs and working men’s clubs, Dire Straits reached the peak of success playing Madison Square Garden and the Live Aid stage at Wembley. Ultimately, however, the demands of touring and living in the spotlight took their inevitable toll. He talks to radio and TV presenter Gemma Cairney
We know that prejudiced behaviour that clashes with our consciously held beliefs exists, to corrosive and even lethal effect. It robs organizations of talent, science of breakthroughs, politics of insight, individuals of their futures, and communities of justice.
Nordell has spent ten years immersed in the cognitive science, social psychology and developmental research that underpin current efforts to change our behaviour. In The End of Bias, she meets the scientists, psychologists, teachers, entrepreneurs, activists and police working to solve one of the great issues of our time.
Dabiri’s incisive, radical and practical essay, What White People can do Next, is a deliberate provocation; a robust, powerful and nuanced examination of race, class and capitalism drawn from years of academic study and lived experience, as well as personal reflections on a year like no other. With intellectual rigour, wit and clarity, she ushers in a vision of a new, reimagined future where ‘whiteness’ and ‘white privilege’ are interrogated, the impact of class re-examined and racialised thinking deconstructed.
The pair talk to the scientist, broadcaster and writer Adam Rutherford.
BBC Radio 4’s Fi Glover and Jane Garvey don't claim to have all the answers (what was the question?), but in these essays they take modern life by its elasticated waist and give it a brisk going-over with a stiff brush. They riff together on the chuff of life, from pet deaths to the importance of hair dye, the perils and pleasures of judging other women, and the perplexing over-confidence of chino-wearing, middle-aged white men named Roger.
The book covers essential life skills (never buy an acrylic jumper, always decline the offer of a limoncello), pondering orgasm merchandise and suggesting the possibility that Christmas is an hereditary disease, passed down the maternal line. They share their wisdom with the broadcaster, journalist and author of How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong.
The writer, the actor and the academic discuss the themes of the new BBC thriller based on the true story of world-renowned Professor Philip Jones, Director of Climate Research at the University of East Anglia, who in 2009 became the victim of cyber-terrorism. With time running out against an unseen enemy, The Trick looks at the potentially devastating consequences to humanity from climate change denial; how a media storm undermined public confidence in the science and how the concept of ‘truth’ took a back seat, causing us to lose a decade of action.
At the time of “ClimateGate”, Trevor Davies was UEA Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and former Director of the Climatic Research Unit 1993-1998.The film is directed by Pip Broughton and written by Welsh novelist, poet and playwright Owen Sheers, who is Professor in Creativity at Swansea University. They talk to investigative journalist Nicola Cutcher.
One of the UK’s most exciting stand-up comedians, Wang recently recorded his first Netflix special at the London Palladium. He has appeared on countless shows including Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News For You, QI, Would I Lie to You? and 8 Out of 10 Cats. His first book, Sidesplitter, is released this autumn.
With support from fellow comedians Ania Magliano and MC Pierre Novellie.
This show includes a 20-minute interval and Wang will sign books at the end.
The author and activist presents a ghostly hour of darkness and shivers with two new ghost stories for Hay Festival Winter Weekend.
The TV presenter, sportswoman and author presents her new book for children: a handbook about resilience, with funny and reassuring personal insights into what it means to make mistakes and be unafraid of failure.
During long, dark winters, the Northern Lights dazzle in the Arctic skies. In this festive gift of a picture book, the author imagines their fleeting journey from Space to Earth and how they weave a special magic for the animals and people living in the frozen North. A talk will be followed by an illustration session, where you can create your own Arctic characters with Zommer’s help. Children can then take their artwork home.
Journalist Elizabeth Day is the author of four novels and a memoir, How to Fail (now a podcast). Her acclaimed debut Scissors, Paper, Stone won a Betty Trask Award and Home Fires was an Observer book of the year. Her third, Paradise City, was named one of the best novels of 2015 by the Evening Standard, and The Party was a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. She is a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book and the Sky Arts Book Club. Her new novel is a psychological thriller tackling jealousy, obsession, motherhood, power, and struggles with fertility.
Born in Jamaica in 1963, John Barnes moved to the UK with his family in 1975 at the age of 12. Six years later he was a professional footballer, distinguishing himself for Watford, Liverpool and England, and in the process becoming our most prominent black player.
In this book he tackles head-on the issues surrounding prejudice by vividly evoking his personal experiences, and holding up a mirror to this country's past, present and future, in a powerful and moving testimony.
Artificial Intelligence is the subject of this collection of 12 illuminating, funny and provocative essays. Drawing on her years of thinking and reading about AI in its bewildering manifestations, the author looks to history, religion, myth, literature, politics – and computer science – to help us understand the radical changes that are happening now and the implications for the way we live and love. With wit, compassion and curiosity, she tackles topics from the algorithms that data-dossier your whole life to the weirdness of backing up your brain.
Claire Armitstead is associate editor at the Guardian.
“Briskly and breezily, 12 Bytes joins the dots in a neglected narrative of female scientists, visionaries and code-breakers” – Observer
Meet the intelligent insects, marvellous minibeasts and inspirational invertebrates that bring life to our planet. Discover how we can ‘rebug’ our attitudes and embrace these brilliant, essential insects, so that we can avoid an ‘insectageddon’ and help each other thrive.
Bugs are economically invaluable, responsible for pollinating plants, feeding birds, defending crops and cleaning water systems. But with 40 per cent of insect species at risk of extinction and a third more endangered, our planet is headed towards an insect apocalypse. We have to start giving worms, spiders, beetles, ladybirds and butterflies the space they need to flourish.The author is head of sustainable farming for Sustain, the campaign for better food and farming, and a former director of policy and campaigns at War on Want.
“I measure every grief I meet with narrow, probing, eyes
I wonder if it weighs like Mine – or has an Easier size.”
– Emily Dickinson
Led by Salena Godden, the panel explores our changed understanding of grief as we emerge from the pandemic and begin to measure its personal and collective impact. They discuss the grief of ‘what could have been’ as a loss equal to that of what once was; they will examine how the pandemic denied us the experiences that punctuate life, as well as those that mark the passing of loved ones; and they will reflect on the absence we experience at the loss of our lives as we knew them before. Drawing on personal experience, they celebrate literature’s power to help us make sense of the world, provide perspective, and enable us to envision different versions of our reality.
Kit de Waal, born to an Irish mother and Caribbean father, was brought up among the Irish community of Birmingham in the 1960s and ’70's. Her debut novel, My Name Is Leon was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. Her latest work, Supporting Cast, a collection of short stories, was published in 2020.
Salena Godden is a poet, activist, broadcaster, essayist and memoirist whose debut novel Mrs Death Misses Death was published in January 2021.
Jack Underwood is a poet, writer and critic. His debut collection of poems, Happiness, won the Somerset Maugham Award in 2015. His work has appeared in The Poetry Review, The New Statesman, Observer, TLS, and Tate Etc. He is a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London.
Alex Wheatle is a YA novelist, poet and playwright. He is a lecturer in creative writing at Manchester Metropolitan University. His life story featured in Alex Wheatle, the fourth BBC film in the Steve McQueen series Small Axe.
To whet your appetite, there will also be 5 Winter Warmer events to watch and enjoy online featuring Matt Haig, Steven Pinker, Bill McKibben, Siri Hustvedt and the 2021 Booker Prize winner. These events will be free for everyone to watch and will be available online on our website from 15 November.