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.
There are also five Winter Warmer events, free for everyone to watch and enjoy online featuring Matt Haig, Siri Hustvedt, Bill McKibben, Steven Pinker, and the 2021 Booker Prize winner, Damon Galgut.
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.
Sebastian Faulks, bestselling author of Snow Country and Birdsong, returns to discuss his latest novel. The Seventh Son confronts prescient issues of surrogacy and medical ethics, weaving a literary thriller revolving around a megalomaniacal tech entrepreneur and a very special – and unusual – child.
When a young American academic Talissa Adam offers to carry another woman's child, she has no idea of the life-changing consequences. Behind the doors of the Parn Institute, a billionaire entrepreneur plans to stretch the boundaries of ethics as never before. Through a series of IVF treatments, which they hope to keep secret, they propose an experiment that will upend the human race as we know it.
Seth, the baby, is delivered to hopeful parents Mary and Alaric, but when his differences start to mark him out from his peers, he begins to attract unwanted attention.
The Seventh Son is a spectacular examination of what it is to be human. It asks the question: just because you can do something, does it mean you should? Sweeping between New York, London, and the Scottish Highlands, this is an extraordinary novel about unrequited love and unearned power.
Faulks talks to scientist, writer and broadcaster Adam Rutherford.
One of the UK’s leading geographers, Danny Dorling shows why we are growing further and further apart in his new book Shattered Nation. Looking at hunger, precarity, waste, exploitation and fear, Dorling looks at how Britain, once the leading economy in Europe, is now the most unequal and what we must do to save Britain from becoming a failed state.
Dorling is Halford Mackinder professor of geography at the University of Oxford, and regularly advises the government and the Office for National Statistics.
In Tim Marshall’s new book The Future of Geography, he tackles astropolitics, exploring how politics and geography are as important in the skies as on the ground, and what it all means for us on Earth.
Marshall is a leading authority on foreign affairs with more than 30 years of reporting experience from countries including Croatia, Bosnia, Israel, Kosovo and Afghanistan. He is the author of Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Tell You Everything You Need to Know About Global Politics and The Power of Geography: Ten Maps that Reveal the Future of Our World.
Offering powerful insights and giving us a new perspective on our world (and beyond), the pair speak to author and journalist Oliver Bullough.
The challenges for literary festivals are numerous, from considering questions around funding, sustainability and free expression to ensuring that festivals are open and welcoming to all, and promote fresh thinking and bold solutions to the problems society faces.
Join Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch for a special Hay Festival Winter Weekend forum discussing and imagining the future of festivals. Gain a preview of Hay Festival’s future plans, ask questions and share ideas.
Questions can be submitted in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org and there will be time during the forum for follow-ups.
Give an old book a new lease of life by turning it into a work of art. Paper artist Kate Kato leads a special workshop, where you will learn how to make a moth from the pages of an old book and get inspiration for future projects.
The event’s theme of moths is inspired by Hay Castle’s Dark Skies exhibition and all materials are provided.
Kato uses discarded paper, wire and thread to make intricate, life-sized sculptures of plants, insects and more from the natural world.
Dark days, cold temperatures and unfriendly weather don’t mean your garden doesn’t have potential in winter. Author and award-winning garden designer Naomi Slade shares tips on getting the most out of your green space in the winter months.
Addressing the fundamentals of winter gardening, Slade will offer recommendations on the flowers, plants and vegetables you can grow, and show you how to make your garden useable and enjoyable.
Slade, a journalist, author, designer and consultant, celebrates the coldest season in her book RHS The Winter Garden, revealing how to reclaim the outdoors. She is the author of a number of books and has won awards for her garden displays.
She talks to freelance writer and green consultant Kitty Corrigan.
In September 1943, as the Second World War raged on, the Allies crossed into Southern Italy, expecting to drive the Axis forces north and be in Rome by Christmas. Although Italy surrendered, the German forces resisted fiercely and the swift hoped-for victory descended into one of the most brutal battles of the war.
Holland takes a fresh look at the crucial first months of the Italian campaign, explaining why it took place, the wider context in which it was fought and the constraints and prime issues affecting both sides. An eye-opening talk about the devastating and destructive nature of war in Europe, Holland also looks at the conditions in which the campaign was fought and what it was like for those involved, whether Allied or German troops or Italian civilians.
Holland is a historian, writer and broadcaster and the author of a number of bestselling histories, including Battle of Britain, Dam Busters, Normandy '44 and, most recently, Brothers In Arms. He has also written historical fiction, and presented and written a number of television programmes and series for the BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, and the History and Discovery channels.
A three-part documentary series based on his bestselling book Normandy '44 is currently on Amazon Prime.
Join Gaby Wood, chief executive of the Booker Prize Foundation, as she speaks to the six authors shortlisted for this year’s Booker Prize, just days before the winner is announced. The group discusses their work, the state of literature today, and what being nominated for the prize means to them.
The winner of the Booker Prize 2023 is announced on Sunday 26 November.
The leading literary award in the English-speaking world, the Booker Prize honours outstanding fiction and has the power to transform the winner’s career, as well as the lives of its longlisted and shortlisted authors. Recent winners of the prize include Shehan Karunatilaka, Bernardine Evaristo and Damon Galgut.
Women have been locked out of the economy – with negative consequences for themselves and society as a whole – for years, with economic thinking largely ignoring what women have to offer, marginalising the work of female economists or simply not recognising their achievements.
In The Women Who Made Modern Economics, Labour MP and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves draws on her personal experiences, explores the ideas of economic theorists such as Harriet Martineau, Mary Paley Marshall and Joan Robinson, and analyses the contributions of policy makers like Janet Yellen and Christine Lagarde.
Join her as she talks to Ngaire Woods about her influences and outlines her vision for an economy in which productivity is enhanced, growth is sustainable and there are opportunities for all.
Reeves has served as the Labour MP for Leeds West since 2010. Before becoming an MP she spent a decade working as an economist. Her previous books are Women of Westminster: The MPs Who Changed Politics and Alice in Westminster: The Political Life of Alice Bacon.
Woods is the founding dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University.
Immerse yourself in the wisdom and nature of the past with writer Adam Nicolson as he talks about how ancient thinkers and the lands they inhabited can throw light on our deepest preconceptions.
The idea of the world used to be dominated by god-kings and their priests, until the ancient Greeks began to change that way of thinking. Through the questioning voyager Odysseus, Homer explored how we might navigate our way through the world, while Xenophanes of Colophon was the first champion of civility and in Lesbos the early lyric poets asked how they could remain true to themselves.
Grounded in the belief that places give access to minds, Nicolson’s How to Be: Life Lessons from the Early Greeks reintroduces us to our earliest thinkers through the lands they lived in.
Nicolson is the prizewinning author of books on history, landscape, and great literature.
In this intimate event, join Tom True, the executive director of Hay Castle, to watch the switching on of the Christmas lights from the viewing platform at the top of Hay Castle’s historic Norman tower. Champagne and canapés are included in the ticket price.
Turmoil, scandal, rule-breaking: three things that can sum up the state of British politics in recent years. Join historian and MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant and barrister and former MP and attorney general for England and Wales Dominic Grieve as they discuss with expert insight and honesty how the House of Commons and the Conservative Party can get themselves back on track.
In his book Code of Conduct, Bryant takes readers inside the Pugin-carpeted corridors of Westminster, from the prime minister's office to the Strangers' Bar, to examine every angle of parliamentary conduct and suggests how parliament might – at long last – get its house in order.
Grieve is one of the contributors to The Case for the Centre Right, edited by David Gauke, in which he and other leading figures on the centre right explore how the Conservative Party morphed into a populist movement and make the case for a return to the liberal centre right.
Bryant and Grieve talk to barrister and journalist Jennifer Nadel, leader of UK think tank Compassion In Politics.
Join Marcus du Sautoy for an interactive exploration of everyone’s favourite games. Gain the competitive advantage this festive season with tips and strategy to help you be crowned the winner of your next games night, whatever you’re playing.
From Monopoly and Connect 4 to chess and rock paper scissors, in Around the World in 80 Games du Sautoy shares straightforward mathematical tips to help you get the edge.
Do you have what it takes to pit yourself against the master mathematician?
Parish priest in Hay since 2001, Father Richard Williams trained as a professional musician at Trinity College of Music, London, studying piano, organ and composition.
In the late Georgian-Gothic setting of St Mary’s Church, Hay-on-Wye, he performs a live accompaniment on the Bevington organ to the classic 1923 silent film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, adapted from Victor Hugo’s novel of the same name.
Set in 15th-century Paris, the film follows Jehan, the evil brother of the archdeacon, as he lusts after a woman named Esmeralda and commands the hunchback Quasimodo to capture her. Military captain Phoebus also loves Esmeralda and rescues her, but an unlikely bond forms between Esmeralda and Quasimodo.
Just six places in the UK have International Dark Sky Reserve status, from where you can see unrivalled views of the beautiful night sky without light pollution; among them is Bannau Brycheiniog National Park, which Hay Castle sits on the edge of.
Join artist Judy Goldhill, astronomy professor Stephen Pompea, and Catherine Mealing-Jones, chair of the Bannau Brycheiniog Dark Skies board, as they discuss the beauty and awe of our dark skies and why we should care about these spaces.
Laugh your socks off and take part in a singalong with comedian, writer and actor Matt Lucas in this interactive event to introduce his new children’s book.
The Boy Who Slept Through Christmas is about Leo, a boy who wishes away Christmas. But when he wakes up to find Christmas really has disappeared, Leo sets out on a mission to undo his wish.
Lucas has recorded 20 original songs to accompany the book, bringing the joy of a musical to book form. Join Lucas for a singalong in this early festive treat.
He talks to children’s author Jenny Valentine.
Chef Gelf Alderson gets mouths watering with a discussion about the new book from the legendary River Cottage restaurants. Alderson discusses how cooks can harness the power of the oven to transform good quality, everyday ingredients into their more deliciously caramelised, roasted counterparts. Whether you’re a gourmet chef or a humble home cook, Alderson offers up useful tips, tricks and recipes.
Alderson has been executive head chef of River Cottage for over 10 years and, during his time there, has worked with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall to create the menus served in all six River Cottage restaurants. He talks to Welsh presenter and producer Meinir Howells.
Murray is the author of the novels Happy Accidents and Diamond Star Halo, both of which were shortlisted for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, which is awarded to comedic books.
Her memoir My Family and Other Rock Stars will be published in 2024. Murray’s mother was the Cordon Bleu chef at Rockfield Studios, the recording location of some of the most famous rock albums of all time. Murray’s book tells of growing up around musicians including Black Sabbath, Queen, Motorhead, Rush, David Bowie, and The Damned, and also examines her relationship with her mother.
The workshop is for adults only, and is limited to 12 people.
Join us to make your own glowing and glorious festive lantern using recycled materials.
The workshop will be held in the Coach House at Hay Castle, so we suggest you dress warmly and ready to get a little bit messy.
Wildlife cameraman and Strictly Come Dancing winner Hamza Yassin takes us on a birdwatching adventure through his new book Be a Birder. He will recount stories and share tips and tricks that are perfect for beginners to the world of birdwatching as well as expert twitchers.
Yassin is a Scottish wildlife cameraman and presenter, an ornithologist and the winner of the 2022 season of Strictly Come Dancing. Born in Sudan, he moved to Scotland when he was young, and studied zoology with conservation at university. His first television appearance was as Ranger Hamza in the CBeebies show Let’s Go for a Walk. Since then, Yassin has appeared on The One Show, Countryfile and Animal Park, and has also presented his own Channel 4 documentaries, Scotland: My Life in the Wild and Scotland: Escape to the Wilderness.