Hay Festival 2023 programme announced

Hay Festival has unveiled the full programme for its 36th spring edition in Hay-on-Wye, with more than 500 in-person events over 11 days, 25 May-4 June 2023. 

Tickets are on sale now to Friends of Hay Festival at hayfestival.org/wales or on 01497 822 629. Public booking opens at noon this Friday 17 March.

Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together in sustainable events to inspire, examine and entertain on the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park.

This year’s programme launches the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around significant global issues. Award-winning writers, policy makers, pioneers and innovators take part from around the world, offering big thinking and bold ideas.

Events offer something for all, beginning with the free Programme for Schools followed by HAYDAYS and #HAYYA events for families, encouraging young readers to get creative throughout the half-term.

Late nights at the Festival are given over to great music, comedy and entertainment, while a host of free pop-up activities and performances around the site keeps audience entertained between events. 

Providing exciting new platforms to discover fresh ideas, Hay Festival invites audiences to imagine the world as it is and as it might be. It is a catalyst for change and action, open and accessible to all.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “This Hay Festival edition is a beacon, an international symbol of hope for the collective, creative imagination and a better future. Our latest programme offers ‘11 days of different’ in the Brecon Beacons National Park, creating a space where great minds won’t always think alike, and where imaginations are free to roam. During the day our conversations will grapple and engage with the world around us, seeking solutions to some of the biggest challenges of our times while inspiring the next generation of world-changers. And in the evening we’ll laugh, dance and exchange stories in a place like nowhere else. Join us.”

Stormzy said: “It all started with books for me. As a kid in school, I fell in love with literature and it sparked a life-long journey with words and writing, which led into my career as a songwriter and a musician. I’m really excited to pass on this passion at Hay Festival, celebrate our incredible #Merky Books writers, and inspire the next generation of storytellers. Can’t wait to see you guys there!”

Michelle McLeod, Sponsorship Manager at Baillie Gifford, said: “Hay Festival never fails to bring together the brightest minds to discuss some of the biggest challenges of our times, along with the very best writers in fiction, non-fiction and poetry. It is a celebration of the written and spoken word, with a wide-range of events for every taste and for all the family. It’s 11 days of entertainment, new perceptions and inspiration.

Hay Festival 2023 is supported by lead sponsors Baillie Gifford and Visit Wales. 

Events will take place across eight stages in the free-to-enter Festival village at Dairy Meadows – which also offers a range of spaces for audiences to explore and enjoy, including the Festival Bookshop, Wild Garden, Make and Take Tent, a host of exhibitors and market stalls, cafés and restaurants ­– as well as in and around Hay-on-Wye, including performances all week at St Mary’s Church. 

Pioneering new projects tackle big thinking, encouraging threads of curiosity throughout the Festival, while Festival favourites will keep crowds returning for more: 

  • Thinkers in Residence Laura Bates, Will Gompertz, David Olusoga and Charlotte Williams convene artists and innovators to explore issues facing the world today and create new platforms to grow ideas.
  • Wales and its cultural impact is championed in events with Publishing Wales, Wales Arts International, National Theatre Wales, BBC Wales, Aberystwyth University, Swansea University and Cardiff University.
  • Ukraine’s biggest book festival, Lviv BookForum, comes to Wales, co-curating events throughout the Festival to spotlight great Ukrainian storytelling and the state of Ukraine today.
  • The Debut Discoveries series showcases emerging writers alongside established names, offering opportunities for fresh talent to take part in Hay Festival events for the first time. 
  • The Eurovision Book Contest highlights dazzling literature in partnership with the European Song Contest team, as Eurovision fever sweeps the UK this May.
  • A new series, Planet Assembly, pioneers the use of civic space and engagement in exploring dynamic solutions to regenerate the planet, with the support of Hive Energy.
  • This year’s Hay on Earth Forum explores food production and climate change, including a range of activities aim to mitigate against the Festival’s own negative environmental impacts. 
  • Hay-on-Wye’s creative community is championed in events with Pride, Hay Writers’ Circle, Hay Music, Rural Media and Hereford College of Arts. 
  • The BBC Marquee brings leading BBC audio programmes and podcasts to the Festival site in free events, while additional media partners TikTok, Sky Arts, Prospect magazine, the welsh agendaJUNO, and The TLScontribute to programming here and around the Festival site.
  • Rigour and intellect are celebrated in lectures from eight leading universities, showcasing the latest research in the arts and sciences.
  • Wide-ranging collaborations strengthen the diversity of programming, with additional partners including British Council, The British Academy, National Literacy Trust, International Booker Prize, The Reading Agency, The Royal Society, English PEN, De Balie, Continental Drifts, Going South, Index on Censorship, RSA, BookAid International, LR Foundation, Accenture, The Eccles Centre for American Studies at The British Library and scientific journal Nature.
  • Winners of the Hay Festival Medals 2023 will be celebrated. Awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), the Medals draw inspiration from the original Olympic medal for poetry. 
  • Inclusive collaborations with Adult Learning Wales, Pen to Print, the British Library’s Living Knowledge Network, Head4Arts and The Family Place will make this one of the most accessible Festival editions yet with targeted projects to attract communities who have not experienced Hay Festival before. 
  • And the Festival continues online with a selection of sessions streamed live throughout the 2023 event, continuing the Festival’s commitment to digital accessibility. 


Visit hayfestival.org/wales to view detailed listings.


Renowned novelists sharing new work including Margaret Atwood (Old Babes in the Wood), Barbara Kingsolver (Demon Copperhead), Eleanor Catton (Birnam Wood), Max Porter (Shy), Jonathan Coe (Bournville), Leïla Slimani (Watch Us Dance), Tan Twan Eng (The House of Doors), Fflur Dafydd (The Library Suicides), Caleb Azumah Nelson (Small Worlds), John Banville (The Lock-Up), Richard Ford (Be Mine), Jenny Erpenbeck (Kairos), Joanne Harris (Broken Light), Sebastian Barry (Old God’s Time), Jojo Moyes (Someone Else’s Shoes), Liz Nugent(Strange Sally Diamond), Fran Littlewood (Amazing Grace Adams), Paterson Joseph (The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho), Claire Fuller (Memory of Animals), Diana Evans (A House for Alice), Dani Shapiro(Signal Fires), Kate Mosse (The Ghost Ship), Kim Sherwood (A Wild & True Relation), Naoise Dolan (The Happy Couple), Patrick McCabe (Poguemahone), Timothy O’Grady (Could Read the Sky), Emma Cline (The Guest), Nicole Flattery (Nothing Special), Ben Okri (Tiger Work), Martin Shaw (Bardskull: No More Tame Language About Wild Things), Monica Heisey (Really Good, Actually), Rebecca F Kuang (Yellowface), Thea Lenarduzzi(Dandelions), Pilar Quintana (The Abyss), Cleo Watson (Whips), Philippa Gregory (Dawnlands), Hannah Rothschild (High Time), Brenda Navarro (Empty Houses), Kevin Jared Hosein (Hungry Ghosts), Vanessa Chan(The Storm We Made), and Jesse Norman (The Winding Stair); three writers from the fifth iteration of Grantamagazine’s ‘Best of Young British Novelists’ share their latest writing; plus a special event sees author-brothers Richard Osman (The Bullet that Missed) and Mat Osman (The Ghost Theatre) in conversation.

Cultural spheres collide as music icon Dua Lipa presents a live recording of her Service95 podcast – At Your Service – with Booker Prize-winner Douglas Stuart (Shuggie Bain), and talks to Booker Prize Foundation director Gaby Wood about her own love of books; musician Stormzy celebrates five years of his #Merky Books imprint in a special event; and as Eurovision Song Contest fever arrives in the UK, Hay Festival marks the occasion with the Eurovision Book Contest, a one-off celebration of dazzling European literature blending public recommendations with expert input.

Exclusive Hay Festival conversations will celebrate the soon-to-be-announced winners of the Dylan Thomas Prizeand International Booker Prize; novelists Margaret Atwood, Elif Shafak and Douglas Stuart join forces to mark the launch of Salman Rushdie’s Victory CityAlexander McCall Smith marks 25 years of his No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series; a trio of exceptional novelists Anya Bergman (The Witches of Vardø), Juno Dawson (The Shadow Cabinet) and Emilia Hart (Weyward) talk witcherature; while crime writers Stig Abell (Death Under a Little Sky), Elly Griffiths (The Last Remains), Mick Herron (Bad Actors), and SJ Parris (Alchemy) give an insight into how they create convincing crimes, intelligent (and occasionally infuriating) investigators, and tons of tension.

The impact of literature is explored as a Publishing Wales panel asks what publishing from Wales can do for the world; writers Elif Shafak and Kit de Waal join journalist Mariella Frostrup and founder member and executive director of Disaster Action Pamela Dix in a BookAid International discussion on the power of books to provide shelter, solace, connection and hope in times of upheaval; UK Children’s Laureates Cressida Cowell and Connor Allen lead a National Literacy Trust discussion on how books can change lives; Hay Pride presents a spotlight on LGBTQI+ storytelling with Travis Alabanza (None of the Above), star of BBC’s RuPaul’s Drag Race UK Cheddar Gorgeous, and Booker Prize-winner Douglas StuartLiterature Across Frontiers brings two writers from Quebec in Canada – Louis Hamelin and Juliana Léveillé-Trudel – together with two from Wales – Siân Melangell Dafydd andLlŷr Gwyn Lewis – to discuss their work in the context of the ecosystems they write in, natural and cultural; and comedian Robin Ince presents his book, Bibliomanic: An Obsessive’s Tour of the Bookshops of Britain.


On each day of the Festival a spotlight is dedicated to the best debut fiction, showcasing a selection of future award-winners alongside established authors who champion their work: 

Nathan Munday (Whaling) talks to Horatio Clare

Alice Winn (In Memoriam) talks to Claire Fuller

Sussie Anie (To Fill A Yellow House) talks to Chris Power

Stephen Buoro (The Five Sorrowful Mysteries of Andy Africa) talks to David Olusoga

Virginia Feito (Mrs March) talks to Xiaolu Guo

Steve Jones (Call Time) talks to Rachel Parris

Georgina Moore (The Garnett Girls) talks to Stephanie Merritt

Jon Ransom (The Whale Tattoo) talks to Cariad Lloyd 

Liv Little (Rosewater) talks to Travis Alabanza

Santanu Bhattacharya (One Small Voice) talks to Max Porter


Thought leaders deliver headline think pieces throughout the Festival, tackling some of the biggest questions of our times, including Dr Jim Down (Aneurin Bevan Lecture), BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet(Christopher Hitchens Lecture), mathematician and novelist Manil Suri (John Maddox Lecture), Anatol Lieven(British Pugwash Lecture) and travel writer Kapka Kassabova (Jan Morris Lecture). 


Leading poets and performers share new work and old favourites: Poet Laureate Simon Armitage (Never Good With Horses) looks back on his career; Brian Bilston brings his Poetry Laboetry; Don Paterson presents his memoir, Toy Fights: A Boyhood; poet and playwright Stephen James Smith presents a spoken word spectacular; while Susie Dent shares An Emotional Dictionary.

Apples and Snakes presents an evening of rural poetry with Safiya Kamaria Kinshasa, Malaika Kegode and Saili Katebe; while the Hay Writers’ Circle share new work; Going South presents an evening of South Asian storytellers with Reeta LoiHussain Manawer and Zia Ahmed; plus, three of the most exciting voices on Faber Poetry’s list – Zaffar Kunial, Nick Laird and Hannah Sullivan – read from their latest collections in a special session not to be missed. 


Late nights at Hay Festival are given over to great music, comedy and entertainment. There are live sets from The Proclaimers; LevellersJudi JacksonBaaba Maal; N’famady Kouyaté; Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily; Ukrainian ska ensemble Zhadan and the Dogs; husband and wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman; North Yorkshire’s only contemporary New Orleans-inspired brass band, New York Brass Band; an evening of dazzling entertainment from Black Mountains Burlesque; and closing night parties led by Cheddar Gorgeous and DJ Max Galactic.

Through the week, four lunchtime recitals at St Mary’s Church, Hay, explore the music of Schubert and others, featuring The Carducci Quartet: Matthew Denton (violin), Michelle Fleming (violin), Eoin Schmidt-Martin (viola) and Emma Denton (cello); Soraya Mafi (soprano) and Ian Tindale (piano); Charles Owen (piano); and The Amatis TrioLea Hausmann (violin), Samuel Shepherd (cello), and Mengjie Han (piano). 

Hay Music presents a series of events at St Mary’s Church including performances from RIOT Ensemble; violinistsMadeleine Mitchell and Gordon Mackay with pianist Nigel Clayton; cellist-singer and environmental activist Sarah Smout (Eyjar); and The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; plus festival favourites Hay Community Choir perform.

Unmissable one-off events blend great literature and music, including collaborations between novelist Aleksandar Hemon and the Sevdah (Bosnian blues) musician Damir Imamović; former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy with instrumentalist John Sampson; musician and author Colin MacIntyre (aka Mull Historical Society) and guests; a special sound and poetry installation devised by artist Wajid YaseenThen Before; while Sharon Robinson talks My Time with Leonard Cohen: A Musical MemoirTara MacLean talks Song of the SparrowLeah Broad (Quartet: How Four Women Changed the Musical World) and Alice Farnham (In Good Hands: The Making of a Modern Conductor) talk trailblazing women; Bob Stanley talks The Birth of Pop; and Peter Lord and Rhian Davies explore the role music plays in Welsh identity. 

Laughter comes in the form of new comedy shows from Dara Ó BriainNatalie HaynesTom AllenJason ByrneKiri Pritchard-McLean and Mark Steel; PalCom presents an evening of laughter and discussion from Palestinian comedians: Alaa Shehada, Diana Swity and Hanna Shammas; Little Wander bring two Friday Night Comedy Club editions during the festival hosted by Welsh comedian Kiri Pritchard-McLean and Robin Morgan respectively and featuring Toussaint Douglass, Edinburgh award-winner Sam Campbell and “Furiously funny” (GuardianJen Brister, Athena KugblenuIsy Suttie and others; Josie Long presents her short story collection Because I Don’t Know What you Mean and What you Don’tFats Timbo talks Main Character Energy: 10 Commandments for Living Life Fearless; David Baddiel talks The God Desire; and the Festival’s Early Editions return with news analysis from Marcus Brigstocke, Carrie Quinlan, Robin Ince, André Vincent and Rachel Parris.

The Bureau of Lost Culture podcast hosts a trio of conversations around counterculture, including journalist and feminist Rosie Boycott, veteran music producer Joe Boyd and organic food pioneer Craig Sams on how the visions and values planted in the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s have flowered in the decades since; Mercury Prize-nominated singer and activist Sam Lee and influential singer-songwriter Vashti Bunyan on the countercultural power of music in modern times; plus the extraordinary story of how forbidden songs cut onto records made from X-rays defied the censor in the Cold War-era Soviet Union.

There’s drama and performance as It’s a Sin actor Callum Scott Howells and writer/director Luke Collins present a screening of On the Black Hill, adapted from Bruce Chatwin’s 1982 novel; Father Richard offers a silent film with live organ accompaniment at St Mary’s Church with The Cabinet of Dr Caligari; while performers and directors from two ground-breaking productions, Peaceophobia and Waswasa – which explore faith, systemic racism and the lived experience of young Muslim men in Bradford and Birmingham – discuss why the arts are so secular and if audiences are scared of faith, and why; while National Theatre Wales presents a discussion around their groundbreaking play, The Cost of Living, with cast and crew. 

Marking the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, anthologist Allie Esiri returns to Hay Festival to celebrate Shakespeare for Every Day of the Year, with an all-star cast including Helena Bonham Carter, Tom Goodman-Hill, Jessica Raine, Tony Robinson, Simon Schama, Jordan Stephens and Samuel West.

Students from Hereford College of Arts share pop–up Shakespeare performances on Friday 26 May and an outdoor performance celebrating the poetry of the current Children’s Laureate, Joseph Coelho, on Tuesday 30 May, while further surprise performances on site feature Midlands-born Got 2 Sing Choir; folk ensemble The Rolling Home Band; and local group Hay Shantymen.


The latest environmental science, sustainable policies and creative responses to the climate crisis are brought into focus in the Hay on Earth series throughout the Festival. Events kick-off Thursday 25 May with the four-part Hay on Earth Forum: Future of Food, hosted by Hay Festival sustainability director Andy Fryers and featuring Louise Grayand Kimberley Wilson on Food AnxietyJake Fiennes on Land HealerIan Rasmussen and Bryce Evans on Milltir Sgwar – Covid and the Revival of Welsh Food Cultures; and Gareth Wyn Jones, Mark Lynas, Solitaire Townsend and Martin Wright on Food for the Future – Should We Trust in Tech?

Planet Assembly, a new series of solutions-focused workshops each morning of the Festival, will empower everyone to be pro-active in dramatic policy transformations that are needed immediately to tackle the acute climate and biodiversity emergencies. Hosted by sustainability entrepreneur Andy Middleton, topics to be covered include energy, health, food, mobility, water, fashion, biodiversity and housing, followed by a plenary session to synthesise a shared call to action. 

Over the following ten days there are conversations with political leaders and influencers exploring solutions to the climate emergency including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan (Breathe: Tackling the Climate Emergency); journalistsHenry Dimbleby (Ravenous) and Gaia Vince (Nomad Century: How to Survive the Climate Upheaval); professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London Bill McGuire (Hothouse Earth: An Inhabitant’s Guide);rewilding campaigner Isabella Tree (The Book of Wilding: A Practical Guide to Rewilding, Big and Small);environmental journalist Tim Smedley (The Last Drop); climate activist Mikaela Loach (It’s Not That Radical: Climate Action to Transform Our World) in conversation with co-executive director of Greenpeace Areeba Hamid; journalistGeorge Monbiot (Regenesis) with NFU President Minette BattersJyoti Banerjee, co-founder of North Star Transition, Simon Evans, CEO of the Wye and Usk Foundation, and The Rivers Trust’s Tessa Wardley join journalist Nicola Cutcher to discuss the battle for Britain’s waterways; indigenous leader from the Guna peoples of Panama Diwigdi Valiente joins former President of Maldives Mohamed Nasheed on disappearing islands.

The latest science is explored in conversations with the director of Seacology Duane Silverstein (Why Islands Matter); seaweed specialist Vincent Doumeizel with The Big Seaweed Show; University of Cambridge’s Jennifer Gabrys on the positives and negatives of citizen-oriented technologies in the fight against air pollution; Karen Bakkershares The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants

Business leaders review the role industry can play in conversations with environmental trailblazer Juliet Davenport(The Green Start-Up); a panel of world-class CEOs provides insight into how they’re putting sustainability at the core of all strategies, featuring Accenture’s Peter Lacy with Anna Marrs of AMEX and Jitesh Gadhia, chair of the British Asian Trust, formerly of the Blackstone Group; and author Andrew Simms, co-director New Weather Institute and joint founder of the Badvertising campaign, and Veronica Wignall, co-director of Adfree Cities, are joined by students from Festival partner Hereford College of Arts, who have been working on a project that turns the table on adverts.

Writers share their creative responses to the climate emergency as Owen Sheers, curator of Everything Change, a series of events about creativity and the climate crisis, is joined by novelist Alys Conran, poet Marvin Thompsonand singer, comedian and actor Carys Eleri to discuss the role of the writer and artist in addressing the challenges of the climate and ecological emergencies. 


Leading travel and nature writers celebrate the natural world in conversations with Leon McCarron (Wounded Tigris),Christian Lewis (Finding Hildasay), Raynor Winn (The Salt Path, Landlines), Tristan Gooley (How to Read a Tree) and Patrick Barkham (The Swimmer: The Wild Life of Roger Deakin); Noel Fitzpatrick talks Beyond Supervet: How Animals Make Us the Best We Can BeRay Mears discusses British Woodland; while Jasmine Donahaye(Birdsplaining) and Jay Griffiths (Nemesis, My Friend) join literary historian Rachel Hewitt (In Her Nature) to explore ideas of diversity, equality, fair access and other moral matters of our relationship with the natural world.

Adventurer Bear Grylls (Mind Fuel) and mountaineer Ranulph Fiennes (Climb Your Mountain) share their love of the great outdoors and the benefits it can have for our inner lives. Meanwhile, off-site Wayfaring Walks see writers and ecologists lead guided tours of the spectacular countryside around Hay with the Brecon Beacons Natural Park team; Farm Walks give Festivalgoers a chance to get closer to local rural life; and Woodland Heritage Timber Tours show how a small-scale, sustainable wood is managed.

Plus two of the UK’s most prominent sport commentators share their incredible life stories as Michael Parkinson presents My Sporting Life: Memories, Moments and Declarations and Sue Barker talks Calling the Shots.


Creatives, thinkers and activists share their personal stories to inspire and challenge in conversations with Ruby Wax (I’m Not as Well as I Thought I Was); writer and broadcaster Octavia Bright (The Ragged Grace); novelist Kit de Waal (Without Warning and Only Sometimes); historian and author Colin Grant (I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be), activist and model Munroe Bergdorf (Transitional: In One Way or Another, We All Transition); poet Michael Rosen(Getting Better) in conversation with Dr Rachel Clarke; and poet and playwright Owen Sheers, patron of the British stammering association STAMMA, on how a different kind of speech can gift a different kind of voice, with authors Margaret Drabble, Zaffar Kunial and Hannah Tovey.

Unique first-person narratives offering insights into different worlds feature Fergus Butler-Gallie (Touching Cloth: A Year in the Life of a Young Priest); Global Teacher Prize-winner Andria Zafirakou (Lessons in Life); “the best carpenter in New York” Mark Ellison (How to Build Impossible Things); social engineer Jenny Radcliffe (People Hacker); while journalist Dolly Alderton shares advice and stories from her agony aunt column Dear Dolly with Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse.

Conversations on women’s wellbeing include midwife Leah Hazard with Rachel Parris about her book Womb, an extraordinary exploration of a woefully under-researched and misunderstood organ; while broadcaster Mariella Frostrup (The Truth About the Menopause) and health journalist Alice Smellie (Cracking the Menopause) offer a straight-talking discussion with Dr Nighat Arif (The Knowledge: Your Guide to Female Health). 

Our inner lives are explored with podcaster and therapist Alex Holmes, film-maker Antonio Mazzone and consultant clinical psychologist Benna Waites, who explore society’s attitude to men’s mental health today; psychotherapist Maxine Mei-Fung Chung on What Women Want: Conversations on Desire; mind coach Vex King looks at dating in the digital world; author and podcaster Katherine May (Enchantment: Awakening Wonder in an Anxious Age) discusses finding nourishment and a more hopeful relationship to the world around her, away from the rolling news cycle; and author and ex-psychiatrist Joanna Cannon presents Will You Read This, Please?, a collection of real-life stories of NHS mental health service users, in conversation with writers Tracy Chevalier and Catherine Cho.

Processing grief is the focus of a series of important conversations on the Festival stages with Richard E Grant on A Pocketful of Happiness; writers Margaret Atwood (Dearly) and Rob Delaney (A Heart That Works) exploring what it means to live and love after loss; while to coincide with Celebration Day – an initiative to celebrate people we’ve lost – novelist Clare Mackintosh, composer and performer James McConnel, writer and activist Osman Yousefzada and film producer Lizzie Pickering talk grief.

Experts share bold ideas on the future of health, including government chief scientific adviser and national technology adviser Patrick Vallance and the Chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce Kate Bingham on the importance of science in our lives; professors Sally Moyle and Sandra Nicholson on Securing the Future of the NHS WorkforceProfessorRose Anne Kenny (Age Proof: The New Science of Living a Longer and Healthier Life) shares the simple changes we can make for healthy living; director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute Russell Forster talks Life Time; while the role of nutrition comes centre-stage in conversations with professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London Tim Spector (Food for Life) with Dr Chris van Tulleken (Ultra-Processed People); while nutritionist Rhiannnon Lambert debunks diet myths. 

Meanwhile, Festivalgoers are invited to start their days with a morning yoga class designed to reinvigorate and inspire, with Kanga Wellbeing. 


Journalists, commentators, and sociologists take stock of life in Britain now, including Alastair Campbell and Rafael Behr in conversation with Ayesha Hazarika on Politics Without Rage; columnist Marina Hyde on What Just Happened?! Dispatches from Turbulent Times; Gary Younge in conversation with Jeffrey Boakye on Dispatches From the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter; journalists Daniel Finkelstein, John Crace andRosie Boycott with MP Jess Phillips on the chaos of British politics; and editor of Prospect magazine Alan Rusbridger hosts a trio of discussions including a debate on museums and restitution with the Guardian’s Chief Culture writer Charlotte Higgins, V&A director Tristram Hunt, and Dr Marenka Thompson-Odlum, Research Associate at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Contemporary Wales comes under the spotlight as the Institute of Welsh Affairs presents a discussion of the existential challenges facing the UK, featuring former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, professor of public policy and the governance of Wales at Cardiff University Laura McAllister, and member of the commission looking at options to reform the structures of the UK and strengthen Welsh democracy Miguela Gonzalez, with Institute of Welsh Affairs director Auriol Miller; writers Tom Bullough (Sarn Helen), Julie Brominicks (The Edge of Cymru) and Horatio Clare explore the political, cultural and mythical history of Wales; BBC Wales business correspondent Huw Thomas talks Charles: The King and Wales; writers Dai Smith (Off the Track) and Sam Adams(Letters from Wales) look into the literary life of Wales; and academic and writer Charlotte Williams is joined by Children’s Laureate Wales Connor Allen, actor Steven Kavuma and National Theatre Wales’ Della Hill for a discussion around Wales’ creative curriculum.

Economics and its effect on global affairs is drawn into focus by director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies Paul Johnson (Follow the Money: How Much Does Britain Cost?) and Ronald A. Kurtz professor of entrepreneurship in the Sloan School at MIT Simon Johnson in conversation with economist Faiza Shaheen about holding government to account; philosopher and economist Daniel Chandler speaks to writer and translator Daniel Hahn about the pressing issue of class inequality; professor of international politics Laleh Khalili shares Sins of War and Trade; economists Mariana Mazzucato and Rosie Collington talk The Big Con: How the Consulting Industry Weakens our Businesses, Infantilizes our Governments and Warps our Economies; economist Ha-Joon Chang talks Edible Economics; whileLloyd’s Register Foundation’s head of insights Sarah Cumbers talks through the World Risk Poll.

Global affairs are brought into focus as film-maker Tamana Ayazi and activist Hasina Safi speak to the BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet about the reality for women in Afghanistan, and what happens next; journalist Jeremy Bowen talks The Making of the Modern Middle East; lecturer in security studies at Aberystwyth University Jan Ruzicka explores the end of Russia’s war with Ukraine; writers Tania Branigan and Xiaolu Guo with journalist Emma Graham-Harrison reflect on the past and present of China; Netherlands’ foremost venue for contemporary arts, politics and culture De Balie presents a discussion on journalism under threat; while The Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and Hay Festival present a series of debates about the future of Europe with journalist Misha Glenny in conversation with historian Orlando Figes (The Story of Russia) Hungarian politician Zsuzsanna Szelényi (Tainted Democracy: Viktor Orbán and the Subversion of Hungary), novelist Ece TemelkuranIrish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole, and historian Timothy Garton Ash.

International law and equity is explored in conversations with lawyers Wendy Joseph, Philippe Sands, Brenda Hale and Helena Kennedy behind the scenes of the justice system; and founder of the Good Law Project Jolyon Maugham on how the UK legal system could work better.

Philosophers offer a wider perspective on politics and world affairs as Julian Baggini presents How to Think Like a PhilosopherAC Grayling talks Philosophy and Life; while Hay Festival bookseller Gareth Howell-Jones presents his reflections in Do Not Call the Tortoise.

And a quartet of Hay Festival Thinkers in Residence host conversations throughout the week questioning norms, finding new perspectives and challenging us to action: writer and activist Laura Bates is founder of the Everyday Sexism Project; Will Gompertz is Director of Arts and Learning at The Barbican and the former BBC Arts Editor and Director of the Tate Galleries; David Olusoga is Professor of Public History at Manchester University and a BAFTA award-winning documentary maker, broadcaster, and writer; and Charlotte Williams is a Welsh-Guyanese author, academic and cultural critic. 


Hay Festival expands its global collaboration with Ukraine’s biggest book festival, Lviv BookForum, with the support of the Open Society Foundations, presenting five co-curated events throughout the Festival to spotlight great Ukrainian storytelling and explore the state of Ukraine today.

Doctors Henry Marsh (And Finally: Matters of Life and Death) and Rachel Clarke (Breathtaking) join historian Olesya Khromeychuk to discuss life and death in Ukraine with the Guardian’s Emma Graham-Harrison; spoken word collective Landschaft blends multilingual poems with hip hop, electropunk and video art; two authors Victoria Belim (The Rooster House: A Ukrainian Family Memoir) and Kevin Jared Hosein (Hungry Ghosts) discuss how their writing deals with identity, colonialism and class struggle; two poets and writers – Halyna Kruk and Serhiy Zhadan – currently experiencing the war in Ukraine first-hand and grappling with its impact, meaning and consequences, discuss how you begin to process and write about the devastation conflict brings; a conversation with young adult writer Yeva Skalietska; and there’s a special performance from Ukrainian ska ensemble Zhadan and the Dogs


Leading researchers and innovators share new work to explain the world around us including The Shard’s engineer Roma Agrawal with Nuts and Bolts; writers Steven Moffat and Lucy Caldwell in conversation with physics professor Rob Appleby on Collision: Stories From the Science of CERN; theoretical physicist and science writer Lawrence M Krauss with philosopher AC Grayling tackling five fundamental mysteries at the forefront of science today: time, space, matter, life, and consciousness; while physicist Athene Donald shares her call for change: Not Just for the Boys: Why We Need More Women in Science.

The human body gets explored in conversations with science writer Sally Adee (We Are Electric: The New Science of Our Body’s Electrome), neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow (Joined-Up Thinking: The Science of Collective Intelligence and its Power to Change our Lives); professor of zoology at the University of Manchester Matthew Cobb talks toAdam Rutherford about The Genetic Age: Our Perilous Quest to Edit Life; while computational chemist Peter Coveney and Science Museum director Roger Highfield reveal what it takes to build a virtual, functional copy of youin five steps.

Leading universities share their latest research in the Festival lectures with contributions from Aberystwyth University, University of Birmingham, University of Cambridge, Cardiff University, Swansea University and the University of Worcester. Discussions include cyber security experts Matthew Hopkins and David John on AI; Katherine Brownon returning the ‘cubs of ISIS’ to the UK; Mark Blagrove and Julia Lockheart on The Science and Art of Dreaming; modern languages reader Andrea Hammel on the history of refugees and migrants; professor of social psychology Sander van der Linden on combatting misinformation; criminologist Victoria Silverwood on the concussion crisis in sport; former MP Justine Greening with Professor Lisa Stansbie on the government’s levelling up agenda; creative writing professor Jacqueline Yallop on how we imagine the dark; Shakespeare scholar Chris Laoutaris on the First Folio; and Gianluca Bianchi on useless research and its uses.


Historians share their fresh takes on past events in conversations with Caroline Dodds Pennock (On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe); Mark Jones (1923), Simon Schama (Foreign Bodies: Pandemics, Vaccines and the Health of Nations), Daniel Finkelstein (Hitler, Stalin, Mum and Dad), Ben Macintyre (Colditz), Simon Sebag Montefiore (The World: A Family History); Irene Vallejo (Papyrus: The Invention of Books in the Ancient World); Mary Morgan and Elizabeth Bingham (Remarkable Castles near Hay-on-Wye); Amy Jeffs(Wild: Tales from Early Medieval Britain); while William Dalrymple (The Anarchy) and Joseph Sassoon (The Global Merchants) explore the captivating world of politics and power, innovation and intrigue, high society and empire in 19th-century Bombay.

Kings and queens of past ages take centre-stage as Tracy Borman talks Anne Boleyn & Elizabeth I: The Mother and Daughter who Changed History), Matthew Engel offers The Reign – Life in Elizabeth's Britain: Part 1: The Way It Was, 1952-79Alison Weir presents Henry VIII: The Heart and the Crown), and historians and broadcasters Peter Snow and Ann MacMillan discuss Kings & Queens: The Real Lives of the English Monarchs

The National Trust presents a special event with historians and journalists on the battle to reform how we view our country estates, featuring Suzannah Lipscomb, Alice Loxton, David Olusoga and Sathnam Sanghera; and Royal Literature Foundation’s WritersMosaic sees poets Raymond Antrobus and Hannah Lowe, debut author Jacqueline Crooks and historian Colin Grant respond to the vibrant stories of Empire Windrush.

Palaeontologists Thomas Halliday (Otherlands: A World in the Making) and Steve Brusatte (The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us) join science journalist Gaia Vince to look at the story of life on earth, weaving together history and science; archaeologist Michael Scott talks X Marks the Spot: The Story of Archaeology in Eight Extraordinary Discoveries; while David Wengrow presents his far-reaching study of humanity The Dawn of Everything: A New History of HumanityPeter Frankopan (The Earth Transformed: An Untold History); and Henry Gee delivers A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth

And influential figures in the history of English literature come to the fore in conversations with Andrea Wulf(Magnificent Rebels), Lucy Worsley (Agatha Christie – A Very Elusive Woman); and Rebecca N Mitchell (Indolent Luxuriousness: Oscar Wilde’s Queer Laziness).


A series of Festival sessions encourages audiences to get creative, including workshops with Hay Festival 2023 Illustrator in Residence Beth Suzanna (The Missing Piece); creative writing with Arvon Foundation’s Natasha Pulley and Kiri Bloom Walden; digital fashion pioneer Kadine James talks metaverse style; and pottery with Florence St George (The Potter’s Way: Heal your Mind and Unleash your Creativity through the Power of Clay).

Art as an act of storytelling comes to the fore as actor Russell Tovey and Robert Diament, director of the Carl Freedman Gallery and Counter Editions in Margate, present Talk Art; artist Tracey Emin discusses her life and work; artisitic director of the Barbican Will Gompertz (See What You’re Missing) joins artist Jeremy Deller (Art Is Magic) to take us into the mind of artists; and curator and art historian Katy Hessel shares The Story of Art Without Men

Foodies delight in discussions with Mary Berry (Mary Berry’s Baking Bible), Rukmini Iyer (India Express: Fresh and Delicious Recipes for Every Day), Jack Monroe (Thrifty Kitchen), Ruth Rogers (The River Cafe Look Book: Recipes for Kids of all Ages); Andi Oliver (The Pepperpot DiariesStories From My Caribbean Table); Prue Leith (Nothing in Moderation); and Sarah Raven (A Year Full of Veg: A Harvest for Every Season).

And a series of gardening sessions features Adam Frost (How I Garden); while the University of Worcester’s Association for Dementia Studies specialist Sarah Waller, interim director Shirley Evans, emeritus professor and former director Dawn Brooker, and associate director of evidence and participation at Alzheimer’s Society Colin Capper share thoughts on how to make a garden dementia-friendly. They are in conversation with Keith Oliver who has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia.


Festival media partners broadcast live from the Festival site in the new Marquee space, including free broadcasts of favourite shows from BBC Sounds, BBC Radio 4, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Asian Network, BBC Radio Wales and BBC Radio 1Extra, plus podcasts from Prospect MagazineThe TLS, and more. The full line-up will be announced in April. 


Festival events inspire the next generation of readers and writers with new fiction from Jacqueline Wilson (The Other Edie Trimmer), Cressida Cowell (Which Way to Anywhere), Liz Pichon (Tom Gates 20: Happy to Help (Eventually)),David Walliams (Robodog), Clara Kumagai (Catfish Rolling), Lee Newbery (The Last Firefox), Robin Stevens (The Ministry of Unladylike Activity), Hannah Gold (The Lost Whale), Eoin Colfer and Celia Ivey (Little Big Sister), Danny Wallace (The Boss of Everyone), JB Gill (Ace and the Animal Heroes), Stephen and Anita Mangan (The Unlikely Rise of Harry Sponge), Jordan Stephens and Beth Suzanna (The Missing Piece), Karrie Fransman and Jonathan Plackett (Gender Swapped Greek Myths), Anna Woltz and David Colmer (My Especially Weird Week with Tess), Andy Stanton and Carrie Quinlan (Ask the Nincompoops), while Julia Donaldson celebrates 30 years of A Squash and A Squeeze and a special event with Literature Wales sees current Children’s Laureate Wales Connor Allenpass the baton to the next writer. 

There are lively performances with a heart-warming family show, based on the much-loved novels by Tove Jansson, Mischief and Mystery in Moominvalley; plus Michael Rosen and his afternoon of poetry; hip hop artist and rap poet Karl Nova and his live rhythms, MC Grammar and his Wonder Raps; storyteller Daniel Morden and his favourite tales; Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti Mabuse with Dance with Oti: The Lion Samba; curator Allie Esiri with A Nursery Rhyme for Every Night of the YearIgnite Music and a magical children’s opera based on John Burningham’s classic book Borka: The Adventures of a Goose with No Feathers; while Hereford College of Arts present Smile Out Loud!

The world around us comes into focus in science and history events for young readers featuring Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Am I Made of Stardust?), Tim Peake (The Cosmic Diary of our Incredible Universe), Greg Jenner (You Are History), Ben Garrod (Extinction), Sheila Kanani (Can You Get Rainbows in Space?), Davinia Tomlinson (Cash Is Queen), Jackie McCann and Aaron Cushley (If the World Were 100 People), Philippa Forrester (Amazing Animal Journeys), while inspiring personal stories come to the fore in events with CBeebies’ George Webster (This Is Me!), Patrick Kane (Human 2.0)

Young Festivalgoers are encouraged to get creative in the Make & Take Tent throughout the Festival, while there are workshops with Hay Festival Illustrator in Residence Beth SuzannaThe Colour monster author Anna Llenas, Riso Print artist Jess BuglerKnight Sir Louis creators The Brothers McLeod, Rooted Forest School, Bollywood Dreams Dance Company, Theraplay, MASH Cinema, Rural Media, WMC Radio, and the University of Worcester’s illustration team.

Teen readers gain inspiration from YA writers including Alice Oseman on her smash-hit coming-of-age romance Heartstopper; plus Caroline O’Donoghue (Every Gift a Curse), Sita Brahmachari (When Shadows Fall) and Amara Sage (Influential), while Hay Festival Thinker in Residence Laura Bates talks to author Jeffrey Boakye about equality. 


Two free Programme for Schools days open Festival proceedings on Thursday 25 May (KS2) and Friday 26 May (KS3 and 4), blending live performance, workshops and storytelling in specially curated sessions, details to be revealed on Tuesday 21 March.


Hay Festival Tales: A Night of Wild Ideas celebrates the launch of this year’s programme at The Tabernacle in London this Thursday 16 March, 7-8.30pm. Hosted by ‘Rock star mythologist’ Natalie Haynes, the event offers up short performances and provocations from an array of Festival stars, teasing bold new work and big thinking including ​science writer Sally Adee, climate activist and writer Tom Bullough, economist Ha-Joon Chang, novelist Fflur Dafydd, author and performance poet Laura Dockrill, writer and curator Allie Esiri, novelist and film-maker Xiaolu Guo, Global Teacher Prize-winner Andria Zafirakou, and writer and performer Jordan Stephens, and a few surprises... Tickets are available now at https://www.hayfestival.com/p-19950-hay-festival-tales.aspx

Explore the full programme now here.