Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2023

Welcome to the Winter Weekend 2023 programme. You can purchase individual tickets for in-person live events or, if you are unable to come to Hay, you can watch the festival from your own home with an Online Festival Pass.

Event C6

Dark Skies Lantern Workshop

 Hay Castle - Coach House

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.

5 - 12 years
One parent/carer must attend but does not need a ticket.
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Event 14

Hamza Yassin talks to Nicola Cutcher

Be a Birder: The Joy of Birdwatching and How to Get Started

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

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.

Yassin is in conversation with journalist, writer and documentary maker Nicola Cutcher.

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Event 15

Suzanne Heywood talks to Francine Stock

Wavewalker: Breaking Free

 St Mary’s Church

When she was just seven, Suzanne Heywood’s parents took her and her brother on what was meant to be a three-year voyage around the world. In reality, the family spent the next 10 years living through storms, shipwrecks, reefs and isolation. Heywood and her brother had little formal schooling, missed out on friendships and found their safety put at risk, with no state showing an interest in their welfare.

Longing for stability and an education, Heywood fought her parents, earning an interview at Oxford University aged 17 and returning to the UK. Join Heywood as she shares the story of her extraordinary childhood, and how she went on to gain a PhD at the University of Cambridge and find success in her career.

Heywood is now a chief operating officer of Exor, and the author of the Sunday Times bestselling book What Does Jeremy Think? and Wavewalker: Breaking Free.

She talks to writer and broadcaster Francine Stock.

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Event 16

Louis de Bernières talks to Kim Sherwood

Light Over Liskeard

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

At the centre of Louis de Bernières Light Over Liskeard is Q, whose work as a quantum cryptographer for the government has led him to believe a crisis is imminent for civilisation. Looking for a simpler life and somewhere to hide out, he buys a ruined farmhouse in Cornwall and begins to build his own self-sufficient haven, while meeting the eccentric characters who already live on the moors nearby. A heartwarming novel, Light Over Liskeard pokes fun at modern mores, and makes us reconsider what is really precious in our short and precarious lives.

de Bernières is the bestselling author of Captain Corelli's Mandolin. His recent books include the short story collection Labels, the children's book Station Jim and the poetry collection The Cat in the Treble Clef.

He talks to author Kim Sherwood, whose books include Testament and the 007 universe novel Double or Nothing.

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Event C7

Crafting Space Workshop

 Hay Castle - Coach House

Come along to explore and learn about the solar system, before making your own planets wrapped in wool or a model of Jupiter using galaxy play dough.

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.

4 - 10 years
Children must be accompanied by an adult (no ticket required)
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Event 18

Afua Hirsch talks to David Olusoga

Decolonising My Body

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

What is beautiful? How do we define beauty? And are our individual ideas of what is beautiful stripped away by collective notions? Prompted by getting her first tattoo at the age of 40, broadcaster and writer Afua Hirsch embarked on a journey to reclaim her body from the colonial ideas of purity, adornment and ageing she absorbed while growing up, recounted in her new book Decolonising My Body.

Gain a better understanding of the link between beauty and politics, and liberate yourself from mainstream beauty standards that aren't serving you as Hirsch talks about her personal experiences and more.

Hirsch is a bestselling writer, journalist, presenter, professor and broadcaster. She is the author of Brit(ish), which won the Royal Society of Literature Jerwood Prize for Non-Fiction. A former barrister, she has also worked in international development. She was the co-presenter of Samuel L. Jackson's major BBC TV series Enslaved in 2020. Hirsch is a columnist for the Guardian and appears regularly on the BBC, Sky News and CNN.
Hirsch is in conversation with historian, writer and broadcaster David Olusoga.

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Event 19

Lewis Dartnell

Being Human: How Our Biology Shaped World History

 St Mary’s Church

We are a wonder of evolution. Powerful yet dextrous, instinctive yet thoughtful, we are expert innovators. These abilities have created the civilisation we know today. But we're also deeply flawed. Our bodies break, diseases thwart our boldest plans, our psychological biases have resulted in terrible decisions in war and peacetime. This contradiction is the essence of what it means to be human, says the astrobiologist and New Scientist contributor, whose earlier book Origins: How the Earth Shaped Human History, was described by historian Peter Frankopan as "a sweeping, brilliant overview of the history not only of our species but of the world". In his new title, he explores how our biology has shaped our relationships, societies, economies and wars.
In conversation with Andy Fryers, Sustainability Director, Hay Festival Foundation.

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Event 20

Hamza Yassin - Family Nature Walk

Be a Birder

 Meet Outside Castle Coach House

Join Hamza for a walk in the great outdoors to explore nature around us, inspired by his book Be a Birder, with plenty of time for questions from the group. Please meet outside the Coach House at Hay Castle ready to start at 2.30pm. The event will take place outside so please come prepared for the weather.

There will be a book signing with Hamza at 12:30pm in the Festival Bookshop.

Children must be accompanied by an adult (no ticket required)
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Event 21

Helen Rebanks talks to Louise Minchin

The Farmer’s Wife

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

In The Farmer’s Wife: My Life in Days, Helen Rebanks takes readers from the farmhouse table of her grandmother, through a journey of self-discovery and into the rural Lake District home she now shares with her husband James Rebanks, four children and a plethora of animals.

In discussion with journalist and television presenter Louise Minchin, Rebanks shares stories about her life, loves and work, honestly and intimately meditating on the power of domestic life and encouraging us all to increase our appreciation of the natural world.

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Event 22

Ava Glass and Kim Sherwood talk to Oliver Bullough

Spies, Lies and Illusion

 St Mary’s Church

Dive into the world of modern spies with Ava Glass and Kim Sherwood, as they introduce their new books and discuss the enduring appeal of spy fiction.

Sherwood’s Double or Nothing is the first in a trilogy of novels expanding Ian Fleming’s James Bond universe, and focuses on a new generation of spies. Johanna Harwood, 003, Joseph Dryden, 004, and Sid Bashir, 009, must work together to investigate Sir Bertram Paradise, a tech billionaire who claims he can reverse the climate crisis and save the planet.

Glass’ high-octane thriller The Traitor is set in the billionaires’ playground of the glamourous French Riviera as British agent Emma Makepeace goes undercover as a crew member on luxury super yacht to bring down its Russian owner and his supermodel girlfriend, who are suspected of procuring illegal weapons from the UK via a traitor. Witnessing a murder, Emma must find the traitor before he finds her.

Glass is a former civil servant with the highest security clearance bar one and prior to working at the Home Office was a crime reporter.

Sherwood is a novelist and a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Edinburgh. Her award-winning debut novel Testament was released in 2018 and her book A Wild & True Relation, following a crew of smugglers in eighteenth-century Devon, was published this year.

They talk to author and journalist Oliver Bullough.

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Event C8

Night Photography Workshop

 Hay Castle - Coach House

Ever wanted to take a photo of the magnificence of the night sky, but only succeeded in capturing a dull blue and a blurred moon? Then come along to this night photography workshop, where you’ll learn photography techniques for your phone, including how to take a star trail photo.

12 - 16 years
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Event 23

Gavin Esler and Lisa Nandy talk to Jennifer Nadel

Make Britain Great Again?

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

For centuries, British identity has been shaped by ideas of exceptionalism, grandeur and competence, but British democracy is failing and for decades, large swathes of the country have been shut out, condemned to low productivity, underinvestment and managed decline, stripped of their voice.

Award-winning journalist Gavin Esler and MP Lisa Nandy set out how Britain can build a better future for everyone and reimagine the relationship between a government and its people.

Esler’s Britain Is Better Than This explores the structural and constitutional failures at the heart of a sclerotic political system and offers practical solutions to answer the key question of our time: what do we need to do to build a better future?

In All In: How We Build a Country That Works, Nandy – MP for Wigan and Shadow Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities – charts a course towards a fairer, more equal and more prosperous country by drawing on the greatest asset we have: each other.

In conversation with barrister and journalist Jennifer Nadel, leader of UK think tank Compassion In Politics.

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Event 24

Miranda Aldhouse-Green and Daniel Morden

Enchanted Wales: Myth and Magic in Welsh Storytelling

 St Mary’s Church

Severed heads that can still talk, cauldrons with attitude, birds that can tell the future – the world of Welsh mythology is full of magic, heroes, tricksters and more.

In Enchanted Wales, Miranda Aldhouse-Green takes readers on a voyage through the key stories of Welsh mythic literature, and explores their ancient roots. The stories within Aldhouse-Green’s book explore our deepest questions about life and death, war and peace, and good and evil.

Storyteller Daniel Morden, the author of Strange Tales, brings the tales from Enchanted Wales to life.

Aldhouse-Green is professor emeritus at Cardiff University. A former president of the Prehistoric Society, she was the first recipient of the John Legonna Celtic Research Prize, awarded by the National Library of Wales in 1986.

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Event 25

Conn Iggulden

Nero: Proof Party

 Hay Castle - Clore Learning Space

Raise a glass to Conn Iggulden, one of the most successful authors of historical fiction writing today, at this very special proof party in Hay Castle. Conn will be giving an exclusive reading of Nero, the first instalment in his gripping new series about the Tyrant of Rome.

Nero’s mother Agrippina, granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, and sister of the brutal Emperor Tiberius is at the heart of this first instalment, which will be published in May 2024. She knows too well that the closer you are to the heart of the empire, the closer you are to power, intrigue and danger. But Agrippina sees that opportunity waits, even in your darkest moments. Her son is everything, and she can shape this boy into Rome itself – the one all must kneel before. But first, the two of them must survive.

This is a catered, standing reception and all attendees will receive a proof copy of the book.
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Event 26

Louise Minchin and Lee Craigie talk to Ava Glass

Extraordinary Adventures

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

Join television presenter Louise Minchin and bike racer Lee Craigie for a celebration of women who have done extraordinary things.

Craigie is one of Scotland’s great bike racers, and tells the story of her life in her book Other Ways to Win. Growing up in Glasgow, she skipped French lessons after discovering the freedom of cycling, heading into the Campsie Fells to see just how far she could ride. Craigie recounts epic adventures along the Tour Divide, Silk Road and the Highland Trail 550, as well as key moments in her career, including representing Great Britain at the World Championships. Through it all, she examines themes of friendship, loss, identity and the power of the outdoors, reminding us that there is more than one way to win at cycling – and life.

Journalist Minchin, who served as chair of judges for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023 and is a World Championship Triathlete, celebrates the remarkable women who inspire her in her book Fearless. Embarking on adventures across the world, including free diving under the ice in the dark in Finland with the first female to swim a mile in the Antarctic Circle and swimming from Alcatraz with two teenage sisters who have braved the shark infested waters over 70 times, Minchin shows that extraordinary women, although little recognised and celebrated by our media and in our conversations, are everywhere.

Minchin and Craigie talk to author, former civil servant and journalist Ava Glass.

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Event 27

Oz Clarke

Oz Clarke's Story of Wine: 8000 Years, 100 Bottles

 St Mary’s Church

Join award-winning author and TV personality Oz Clarke on a journey through the ages as he explores the places, the people and the bottles that have shaped the captivating history of wine.

Starting as far back as 6000 BC and the probable birth of a wine culture in ancient Georgia, through the fact and fiction of Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome and to the trends and tribulations of now – including the devastation wildfires cause to winemakers– Clarke takes us on a whistle-stop tour of wine history, taken from his book Oz Clarke's Story of Wine.

Clarke is one of the world’s leading wine experts, known for his phenomenal palate, irreverent style, accurate predictions, and enthusiasm for life in general and wine in particular. He was awarded an OBE in 2020.

There will be a small glass of wine on arrival supplied by local wine merchant Tanners. Audience members will also be able to place orders after the event.

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Event 28

Nii Ayikwei Parkes talks to David Olusoga


 Poetry Bookshop

Journey to a mythical Caribbean island with Ghanaian-British writer, editor and publisher Nii Ayikwei Parkes, as he talks to historian David Olusoga about his book Azúcar.

The novel follows Oswald Kole Osabutey Jnr, known as Yunior, who travels to the island of Fumaz where the revolutionary philosophy of peopleism keeps its flame alive against the forces of an old-style command centre political bureaucracy and a stifling trade blockade from the big imperialist neighbour to the North. There, he meets Caribbean-American college student Emelina Santos, heiress of the Soñada dynasty, and in the ensuing years Yunior and Emelina travel divergent journeys through history, music, myth and heartbreak; confronting the question of what it means to belong to a place or to another person.

Ayikwei Parkes is one of the UK’s leading Black voices, winning critical acclaim as a poet, novelist, broadcaster, and children’s author. His 2020 poetry collection The Geez was longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize, shortlisted for the Walcott Prize and was a Poetry Book Society 2020 Recommendation.

Olusoga is a historian, writer and broadcaster whose books include Black Britain.

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Event 29

Reginald D. Hunter

Stand Up : The Man Who Could See Through Shit

 Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage (Hay Castle)

Working out what is true and what is real is more and more challenging in the supercharged socio-political times we live in. Join Reginald D. Hunter for an hour of exploring this phenomena.

American comedian Hunter has appeared on television shows including Never Mind The Buzzcocks, QI and Have I Got News For You? He also hosted BBC2’s Reginald D. Hunter’s Songs Of The South and Reginald D. Hunter’s Songs of The Border, documenting his epic road trip through 150 years of American popular song.

Reginald D.Hunter will be supported by Mad Ron (comedy creation of Steve Lee), the Third Hardest Man in Uxbridge who has taken the circuit by storm.

This event includes a 20 minute interval, and interval drinks may be pre-ordered from the bar inside the marquee.
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Event C9

Daniel Morden

The Voice in Shadow

 Hay Castle - The Great Hall

Prepare to be charmed, chilled and thrilled as Daniel Morden tells strange stories of the supernatural by candlelight in the evocative setting of Hay Castle’s Great Hall.

Morden has been telling traditional stories for more than 30 years, and weird tales are a particular speciality.

His books include Dark Tales from the Woods and Strange Tales. In 2017 Morden was awarded the Hay Festival Medal for his services to storytelling.

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Event C10

Breakfast Tour with Tom True

Battles, Borders, Books and Breakfast

 Hay Castle - The Great Hall

Hay Castle’s executive director Tom True introduces the key moments and characters from the castle’s past over a continental breakfast. The event also includes an insight into Hay Castle’s Dark Skies exhibition.

This event has taken place

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