Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2021

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.

Event FiltersYou are viewing events filtered bySaturday 27 November 2021View All

Event 17

Arwa Mahdawi, Paul Mason & Jeanette Winterson

Where do we go From Here?

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

Our Festival guests review the weekend papers, reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to 2022. They talk to journalist and author of Strong Female Lead, Arwa Mahdawi. Strong coffee recommended.

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Event HD1

Lauren Child talks to Gemma Cairney

Clarice Bean: Think Like an Elf

 Baillie Gifford Stage

From Charlie and Lola and Ruby Redfort to Hubert Horatio, Child has created some of the best known characters in children’s books today. This year, Clarice Bean, the irrepressible star of books that have sold more than six million copies worldwide, returns in a brand new tale. The author discusses her themes and inspiration with radio and TV presenter Gemma Cairney.

7+ years
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Event 18

Kaliane Bradley, Jay Griffiths and Testament talk to Anita Roy

Gifts of Gravity and Light

 Baillie Gifford Stage

The changing seasons of the year are an endless source of strangeness and wonder. This book invites you to experience spring, summer, autumn and winter through 14 different voices. Greet the arrival of spring in East London with a Cambodian New Year's dance; watch sea otters at play in the summer sun; gather armfuls of hops in a romany song to the autumn; yield to the icy stillness of winter in the Cairngorms or pine for the ‘sun-drunk’ days of a Jamaican childhood.

With a foreword by Bernardine Evaristo and contributions from Jackie Kay, Kaliane Bradley, Pippa Marland, Testament, Michael Malay, Tishani Doshi, Jay Griffiths, Luke Turner, Anita Roy, Raine Geoghegan, Zakiya McKenzie, Alys Fowler, Amanda Thomson and Simon Armitage, this almanac reflects not only the diversity of the writers featured, but our endlessly changing natural world.

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Event 19

Marcus du Sautoy talks to Hallie Rubenhold

Thinking Better: The Art of the Shortcut

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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.

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Event 20

Bear Grylls talks to Dylan Jones

Never Give Up

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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.

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Event 21

David Hare talks to Francine Stock

We Travelled: Essays and Poems

 Baillie Gifford Stage

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.

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Event 22

Adam Rutherford and Hannah Fry

Rutherford and Fry's Complete Guide to Absolutely Everything

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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.

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Event 23

Catrin Kean and J. R. Thorp talk to Claire Armitstead

Salt/Learwife

 Baillie Gifford Stage

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.

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Event 24

Anita Rani in conversation with Natalie Haynes

The Right Sort of Girl

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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.

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Event 25

Peter Ford talks to Jules Hudson

Matilda, Lady of Hay

 Baillie Gifford Stage

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).

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Event 26

John Illsley talks to Gemma Cairney

My Life in Dire Straits

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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

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Event 27

Emma Dabiri and Jessica Nordell talk to Adam Rutherford

How can we overcome unconscious bias in relation to race and class?

 Baillie Gifford Stage

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.

Emma Dabiri and Adam Rutherford will appear in person. Jessica Nordell will join digitally.
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Event 28

Fi Glover and Jane Garvey talk to Elizabeth Day

Did I say That out Loud?: Notes on the Chuff of Life

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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.

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Event 29

Trevor Davies and Owen Sheers talk to Nicola Cutcher

The Trick – The ClimateGate Affair

 Baillie Gifford Stage

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.
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Event 30

Phil Wang

Stand Up

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

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.

14+
This event will not be live streamed.
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Event 31

Jeanette Winterson

The Night Side of the River

 Baillie Gifford Stage

The author and activist presents a ghostly hour of darkness and shivers with two new ghost stories for Hay Festival Winter Weekend.

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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.