More than 160 speakers and performers include Nobel Prize winner Esther Duflo, economist Thomas Piketty, novelists Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Isabel Allende, Perez Reverte, Emmanuel Carrère, Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo, Joel Dicker, International Booker Prize winner Marieke Lucas, Tiago Ferro, Ken Follett and Andre Aciman, graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi, philosophers Peter Singer and Fernando Savater, nature writer Robert Macfarlane, travel writer Paul Theroux, Colombian scientist Brigitte Baptiste, historian Hallie Rubenhold; lawyer Philippe Sands and Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow 2020-21, poet Mererid Hopwood.

Hay Festival Cartagena has announced its 16th programme, 22-31 January 2021, with global literary stars, Nobel Prize-winners and internationally acclaimed performers leading a line-up that encompasses 160 speakers from 16 countries in 120 events over ten days.

The Festival will see writers and readers come together live and online to give voice to some of the biggest issues of our time, from responses to the global pandemic and the climate crisis to what a reimagined present can tell us about our uncertain future, while showcasing an array of award-winning fiction writers presenting new work. 

Physical events will take place in Jericho (22-24 January), Medellín (25-27 January) and Cartagena (28-31 January), organized with careful respect for the measures implemented for cultural events as a result of the pandemic, while the digital programme will be free to view online at hayfestival.org/cartagena.

The programme, with a total of 120 activities, is organized with the traditional venues of the festival in mind: Jericho, Medellín and Cartagena de Indias. These are the first Hay Festival events of 2021, kicking off a global calendar of editions that also encompasses Mexico, Peru, Spain, the US and the UK.

HAY JOVEN for students, HAY FESTIVALITO for young people, and a series of events in communities across Colombia, in partnership with Plan International, ensure that events reach the broadest possible audiences, live and online. 

Since its first year in 2006, Hay Festival Cartagena has welcomed more than half a million book lovers to the Festival over the years. Attracting more than 50,000 people annually, the Festival enjoys wider cultural impact across Latin America thanks to regional media partnerships with RCN TV and Radio, El País, El Tiempo, Arcadia and an international collaboration with BBC Mundo. 

Cristina Fuentes La Roche, international director of Hay Festival, said: “Hay Festival begins the new year with a diverse and inspiring programme, inviting leading voices from across the world to meet this moment of crisis with their new ideas and visions for tomorrow. Our digital programme will be an inspiration to Hay Festival Cartagena’s widest audience yet. Join us live or online to reimagine the world and begin 2021 with a renewed sense of hope and vision.”

Explore the full programme and register for events now at hayfestival.org/cartagena.


Acclaimed Colombian writers present new work alongside rising stars of the country’s literary scene, including Juan Gabriel Vásquez with his recently published Volver la vista atrás, Melba Escobar, author of Cuando eran felices pero no lo sabíamos, Margarita Posada on her book Las muertes chiquitas, Carolina Ponce de León with Tantas vueltas para llegar a casa, Carolina Sanin on Pasar fijándose, Giuseppe Caputo with Estrella madre, Tomás Gonzalez on El fin del Océano Pacífico, Gloria Susana Esquivel with Dinamita! Mujeres rebeldes en la Colombia del siglo XX, Jerónimo Atehortúa on Los cines por venir and Marta Orrantia with Cripiano.

Icons of world literature take centre-stage as Chilean writer Isabel Allende celebrates her career in books and French novelist Emmanuel Carrère talks Yoga while compatriot Vanessa Springora talks Consent. Iranian-French graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi looks at her illustrious career, from Persépolis to Embroideries, Dutch novelist Marieke Lucas talks about her International Booker Prize-winning The Discomfort of Evening, British novelist Bernardine Evaristo discusses her Booker Prize-winning Girl, Woman, Other and French novelist Joel Dicker presents his fifth work, The Enigma of Room 622. Brazilian novelist Tiago Ferro talks The Father of the Dead Girl and Welsh writer Ken Follett reflects on his bestselling fiction. More highlights are US novelists Richard Ford, Paul Auster (4 3 2 1) and Andre Aciman (Find Me), Mexican writer Guadalupe Nettel (La hija única), Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura (Como polvo en el viento), Irish writer Emilie Pine (Everything I Can't Say), Spain’s Arturo Pérez Reverte (Line of Fire), Irene Vallejo (El infinito en un junco), Juan José Millás and Juan Luis Arsuaga (La vida contada por un sapiens a un neandertal), while Haitian-American novelist Edwidge Danticat and US writer Benjamin Moser presents his biography of Susan Sontag.

Philosophers and journalists put some of the biggest issues of our time into context with appearances from Australian philosopher Peter Singer (Ethics for the Real World), Spanish philosophers Fernando Savater (La peor parte) and Eduardo Infante (Filosofía en lacalle), French philosopher Gilles Lipovetsky (Plaire et Toucheressai sur la société de seduction) and Colombian Alfonso Munera (El fracaso de la nación). British nature writer Robert Macfarlane presents Underland, while US travel writer Paul Theroux discusses his long, distinguished career.

The latest ideas in science are showcased alongside issues around the global climate crisis in conversations with American science writer David Quammen (Contagiousness: The evolution of pandemics), Maltese comic artists Joe Sacco (A Tribute to the Land), Colombian scientist and thinker Brigitte Baptiste, geologist and novelist Ignacio Piedrahita, and Mariana Matija (10 pasos para alinear la cabeza y el corazón y salvar el planeta).

The world in 2021 – its politics and economics – is brought into sharp focus in conversations with 2019 Nobel Prize for Economics winner Esther Duflo (Good Economics for Hard Times), French economist Thomas Piketty (Capital and Ideology), American political scientist Steven Levitsky (How Democracies Die), Colombian political scientist León Valencia (La sombra del presidente), American entrepreneur Jacqueline Novogratz (Manifesto for a Moral Revolution) and Chilean feminist collective Las Tesis (Un violador en tucamino).

History is reimagined in conversations with British historian Hallie Rubenhold (The Five), investigative reporter Patrick Radden-Keefe (Don't Say Anything), Colombian writer Johana Bahamon (Historias privadas de la libertad) and British lawyer Philippe Sands (The Ratline).

Performers and musicians offer a behind-the-scenes look at their craft in conversations and intimate performances, including ChocQuibTown co-founder Carlos Vives (Cumbiana: Tales of a Lost World)Latin Grammy nominees Caribefunk, Uruguayan composer and songwriter Jorge Drexler and salsa legend Rubén Blades.

Global Hay Festival projects are celebrated as the latest Kew Gardens Platform event sees journalist, blogger and United Nations Environmental Ambassador, Mónica Fonseca, talk to Hernando García, director of the Alexander von Humboldt Institute, and to Mauricio Diazgranados, head of the research team at Kew Gardens, UK, and two recent winners of the Eccles Centre and Hay Festival Writer’s Award, Pola Oloixarac and Daniel Saldaña París, appear in conversation. Meanwhile, Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow 2020-21, poet Mererid Hopwood, will begin her global Hay Festival journey, joining the Colombia line-up to present a series of interviews, lectures and workshops on indigenous languages.

For younger book lovers, HAY FESTIVALITO and HAY COMMUNITARIO feature free workshops, talks and activities with writers and illustrators from around the world including Valentina Toro (Colombia), Cristina Durán (Spain) or Marta Altés (Spain), storytellers Lluis Prats (Spain) or Elia Barceló (Spain) and poet Adolfo Córdova (Mexico). Colombian writers who will talk to children and young people about history, equality, astronomy, nature, and crime novels include Ricardo Silva Romero, Luis Arturo Torres Moreno, Germán Puerta, Liliana Arias, Luis Fernando Macías, Catalina Navas and the Nuestro Flow collective. 

Explore the programme and register for events now here.