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 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.
Meredith has produced collections of poetry and works of fiction more or less alternately since 1984. This year, Seren published his novel Please and his book of poetry Still on the same day. Join him in a conversation about writing in parallel forms, with fellow Welsh writer Jon Gower, whose books include An Island Called Smith and The Story of Wales. He has been making TV and radio documentaries for 30 years.
Do you remember when viewing at a certain time was still a thing? When you spent 3.30pm-5.30pm every day watching CBBC? A forgotten or unknown time for some, but a treasured childhood for the comedian whose memoir revisits the TV of our past, from the CBBC Broom Cupboard, Live & Kicking, Eldorado and Big Break to C4’s bespoke Saturday morning sports output featuring Kabaddi. In conversation with his brother Henry, he reflects on his strange upbringing in Dartmoor where there were only four people in his year at school, and at home they didn’t just leave the front door unlocked, they didn't even have a key.
Fewer than two per cent of the British population regularly attend services in an Anglican church, and since the idea of ‘church’ is its people, the buildings are becoming husks, without meaning or purpose. Some are finding new community roles, but the institutional decline is widely seen as terminal. For Morris, post-war parsonages were the happy backdrop of his childhood. In Evensong he explores what drew his father and hundreds like him to ordination as they came home from war in 1945. We meet archbishops, chaplains, campaigners, bell-ringers, bureaucrats, archaeologists, gravediggers, architects, scroungers – and follow some of them to dark places. Part personal odyssey, part lyrical history, the book spans two thousand years, and ends amid the messy legacies of colonialism and empire.
Stavrakopoulou’s God: An Anatomy reveals that God’s cultural DNA stretches back centuries before the Bible was written, and persists in society, whether we are believers or not. The Bible has shaped our ideas about God and religion, but also our cultural preferences, our concept of life and death; our attitude to sex and gender; our habits of eating and drinking; and our understanding of history. In her book she shows how the Western idea of God developed, investigating the places and artefacts that shaped our view of this singular God and the ancient religions and societies of the biblical world. In doing so she analyses the origins of Western culture.
Outstripping palaces and castles, cathedrals are sensational structures and humankind's greatest creations. The author has travelled from Chartres to York, Cologne to Florence, Toledo to Moscow and Stockholm to Seville to illuminate old favourites and highlight new discoveries. This fully illustrated book tells the stories behind these wonders, inspiring readers to make their own pilgrimage.
Previous books by Simon Jenkins include England's Thousand Best Churches, A Short History of England, and A Short History of Europe.
Hannah Jane Parkinson appreciates simple pleasures, whether she is revelling in a fluffy dressing gown (“like bathing in marshmallow”), finding calm in solo cinema trips, noticing the personalities of fonts (“You’ll never see Comic Sans on a funeral notice”), or feeling no guilt if she stops reading a book she isn’t enjoying. Her observations, selected from her Guardian column, remind us of everyday pleasures, a balm for anyone having an unsteady time.
Nell Frizzell is a journalist on magazines (ELLE, Vogue) and newspapers (Guardian, Telegraph). Her first book, The Panic Years, is an exploration of bodies, babies and the big questions facing modern life
An evening with the Oscar-winning writer, director and actor as she discusses the complementary crafts of writing and performing. In April 2021, she won the Academy Award for best original screenplay, the first British woman to win (since it was established in its current form in 1958) with her film, Promising Young Woman. She earned two Primetime Emmy Award nominations as a writer on the BBC thriller series Killing Eve. She is known, too, for playing Patsy in BBC’s Call the Midwife and Camilla Parker-Bowles in Netflix's The Crown. In May, Fennell received the 2021 Hay Festival Medal for Drama. She talks to the radio and TV presenter Gemma Cairney.
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.