Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye 2024 programme revealed
Headline artists include authors Amor Towles, Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀, Colm Tóibín, Cressida Cowell, David Mitchell, Jeff Kinney, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Nicholls, Elif Shafak, Holly Jackson, Alex Wharton, Jacqueline Wilson, Sunjeev Sahota, Manon Steffan Ros, Marian Keyes, Michael Morpurgo and Oliver Jeffers; historians Alice Roberts, Greg Jenner and Tom Holland; politicians Theresa May, Andy Burnham, Julia Gillard and Rory Stewart; musicians Bonnie Tyler, Charlotte Church, Geri Halliwell-Horner, James Blunt, Jools Holland, Robert Macfarlane and Johnny Flynn; journalists James O’Brien, Caitlin Moran and Elizabeth Day; footballer and broadcaster Gary Lineker; actors Dame Judi Dench, Miriam Margolyes, Stephen Fry, Sir Lenny Henry and Toby Jones; artist Es Devlin; poets Hanan Issa, Simon Armitage, Jackie Kay, Lemn Sissay, Hollie McNish, Michael Rosen and Joseph Coelho; comedians Jon Richardson, Nish Kumar, Julian Clary, Ruby Wax and Sara Pascoe; Nobel Prize-winning activist Maria Ressa; and many more… 

Hay Festival Global has unveiled the full programme for its 37th spring edition in Hay-on-Wye, with more than 600 in-person events over 11 days, 23 May–2 June 2024. 

Tickets are on sale now to Hay Festival Members, Patrons and Benefactors at hayfestival.org/hay-on-wye. General sale begins at noon this Friday 15 March.

Launching the best new fiction and non-fiction, while offering insights and debate around significant global issues, the programme sees 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 schools programme, 23–24 May, and including a vibrant strand for families throughout. 

New projects woven across the Festival include The Platform for new creatives, the daily News Review offering analysis of the latest events, the first-ever Hay Festival Sports Day, and Hay Festival Green, prompting innovative solutions to the climate crisis.

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 sessions. 

Events will take place across eight stages in the redesigned free-to-enter Festival site at Dairy Meadows – which also offers a range of spaces for audiences to explore and enjoy, including the Bookshop, Wild Garden, Make & Take Tent, a host of exhibitors and market stalls, cafés and restaurants, and the new Family Garden where young readers can kick-start their creative journeys – as well as in and around Hay-on-Wye, including performances all week at St Mary’s Church. 

Hay Festival Global CEO Julie Finch said: 

“In a year when more voters than ever in history will head to the polls, as at least 64 countries hold their elections, we present a programme to bring people together, respectfully exploring different perspectives and the power of storytelling to unite us. With new venues on our free-to-enter Festival site and diverse new projects throughout the programme, this is a festival for everyone. Join us in a world of different ideas.”

Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye 2024 is supported by lead sponsors Baillie Gifford, Welsh Government, Arts Council England and Arts Council Wales, lead media partner the BBC and digital media partner TikTok.

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

The Platform – A new space for young, emerging artists to share their work with Hay Festival audiences. The Platform aims to elevate and develop outstanding creative artists at the start of their careers, with submissions open now.

The News Review – In this election year, each morning of the Festival journalists, commentators, and world leaders take stock of the latest news live on stage.

Debut Discoveries
 – Daily events showcase emerging writers alongside established names, offering opportunities for fresh talent to take part for the first time. 

Hay Festival Green – Events and workshops explore dynamic solutions to regenerate the planet.

South to South – Conversations, co-curated by Hay Festival teams in Mexico, Colombia and Peru, spotlight the shared issues and solutions facing the Global South.

Sports Day – To mark this Olympic year, the first-ever Hay Festival Sports Day takes place Wednesday 29 May as leading thinkers join sports stars for a showcase of creative talent, an exploration of the Olympic spirit and interactive free activities.

Thinkers in Residence – Ruby Wax, Alex Wheatle and Caroline Lucas gather together artists and innovators to explore issues facing the world today and develop new solutions.

(Un)scripted – Exploring storytelling beyond the page, daily events showcase artists innovating in film, TV and on stage.

Wales today – The country’s cultural impact is championed in events with Welsh National Opera, BBC Wales, Aberystwyth University, Swansea University, Cardiff University and Literature Wales’ Welsh Book of the Year.

Lviv BookForum – Ukraine’s biggest book festival comes to Wales, co-curating events throughout to highlight great Ukrainian storytelling. 

Food demos – For the first time, a series of events bring the flavours off the page for audiences in demonstrations and tastings throughout the Festival.

Hay-on-Wye – The Festival’s creative community is championed in events with Hay Castle, Hay Writers’ Circle, Hay Community Choir, Hay Shantymen, Hay Music, Rural Media and Hereford College of Arts.

On air – The BBC Marquee brings leading BBC programmes to the Festival site in free events, while additional partners TikTok, JUNO, and The TLS share content.

University series – rigour and intellect are celebrated in lectures from six leading universities, showcasing the latest research in the arts and sciences.

Hay Festival Medals 2024 – Awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), this year’s Medals will be awarded live on site to recipients yet to be announced. 

Inclusive collaborations – Adult Learning Wales, Black British Book Festival, Pen to Print, The Queen’s Reading Room, Living Knowledge Network and The Family Place make this one of the most accessible Festival editions yet. 

And the Festival continues online with a selection of sessions streamed live throughout the 2024 event, continuing the Festival’s commitment to digital accessibility. 


Visit hayfestival.org/hay-on-wye to view detailed listings.


Exclusive conversations celebrate the soon-to-be-announced winners of the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize and International Booker Prize; plus the shortlists of the Wales Book of the Year 2024 and Women’s Prizes for Fiction and Non-Fiction. Meanwhile, The Bookseller presents The Nibbies Salon, as novelist Katherine Rundell and her team share insights from the publishing journey, and a new Climate Fiction Prize is launched live on stage. 

Past Booker Prize-winners present their latest offerings including Anne Enright (The Wren, The Wren), Richard Flanagan (Question 7), Howard Jacobson (What Will Survive of Us) and Paul Lynch (Prophet Song), while Marlon James marks 10 years of A Brief History of Seven Killings

There’s more new fiction from Marian Keyes (My Favourite Mistake), Hisham Matar (My Friends), David Nicholls (You Are Here), Coco Mellors (Blue Sisters), Amor Towles (Table for Two), Ayọ̀bámi Adébáyọ̀ (A Spell of Good Things), Chigozie Obioma (The Road to the Country), Colm Tóibín (Long Island), Jeanette Winterson (Night Side of the River: Ghost Stories), John Boyne (The Elements), Rose Tremain (Absolutely and Forever), Lionel Shriver (Mania), Jasper Fforde (Red Side Story); Sandra Newman (Julia), Kevin Barry (The Heart in Winter), Ingrid Persaud (The Lost Love Songs of Boysie Singh), Carys Davies (Clear), Francis Spufford (Cahokia Jazz), Naomi Alderman (The Future), Hari Kunzru (Blue Ruin), Andrew O’Hagan (Caledonia Road), Sunjeev Sahota (The Spoiled Heart), Moses McKenzie (Fast by the Horns), Téa Obreht (The Morningside), Sarah Perry (Enlightenment), Jhumpa Lahiri (Roman Stories), Sophie Buchaillard(Assimilation), Francesca Reece (Glass Houses), Sara Pascoe (Weirdo), Daisy Goodwin (Diva), Benjamín Labatut (The Maniac), Sarah Bernstein (Study for Obedience) and Eley Williams (Moderate to Poor, Occasionally Good). 

New fiction in translation takes centre-stage in conversations with Sara Mesa (Un Amor), Adania Shibli (Minor Detail), Giuliano da Empoli (The Wizard of the Kremlin), Jean-Baptiste del Amo (The Son of Man), Munir Hachemi (Living Things) and Andrey Kurkov (The Silver Bone); WritersMosaic presents a focus on Latinx Writers in the UK as editor Oscar Guardiola-Rivera talks to Gaby SambucettiJuan Toledo and Erna von der Walde for a moving journey through the new Latinx literary landscape; and Mexican writer Aura García-Junco and British-Palestinian author Isabella Hammad talk to translator Daniel Hahn about writing on both sides of the Atlantic.

Crime fiction and thrillers lead the billing in conversations with Anthony Horowitz (Close to Death), Judy Murray (The Wild Card), Lisa Jewell (None of This is True), Alex Michaelides (The Fury) and Reverend Richard Coles (Murder at the Monastery), while there’s historical fiction with Alison Weir (Mary I: Queen of Sorrows), Ken Follett (The Armour of Light), AK Blakemore (The Glutton) and Kate Mosse (The Ghost Ship).

In a special event co-curated with The Queen’s Reading Room, Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho is joined by fellow authors Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Cressida Cowell as they delve into the history of children’s literature; writers Priscilla Morris and Elif Shafak talk to Lord Paul Boateng, Vice Patron of charity Book Aid International, about what is lost when libraries are targeted or when people are displaced and access to libraries is taken away; MP Chris Bryant joins historian Wendy Moore and writer and transgender activist Alana Portero in a celebration of books centring on queer people; and there are previews of new work coming later in the year, including Jodi Picoult with By Any Other Name and Stephen Fry with his next set of Greek retellings.

Literary history and anniversary celebrations take to the stage as Anna Funder (Wifedom) explores the work of George Orwelll; a one-off performance marks the centenary of Kafka’s death, with music by organist James McVinnie; authors Okojie, David OlusogaMendez and Colm Tóibín talk James Baldwin’s impact, 100 years after his birth; while David Mitchell marks 20 years of Cloud Atlas; and Helen Garner launches an anthology of her collected works.


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, sponsored by the Hawthornden Foundation: 

Kaliane Bradley (The Ministry of Time) talks to Francis Spufford
Holly Gramazio (The Husbands) talks to Naomi Alderman
Gemma June Howell (The Crazy Truth) talks to Rachel Trezise
Sarah Marsh (A Sign of Her Own) talks to Suzannah Lipscomb
Andrew McMillan (Pity) talks to Jackie Kay
Nathan Newman (How to Leave the House) talks to Jack Edwards
Leo Vardiashvili (Hard by a Great Forest) talks to Viv Groskop
Vanessa Walters (The Lagos Wife) talks to Alex Wheatle
Rose Wilding (Speak of the Devil) talks to Jeanette Winterson
Fiona Williams (The House of Broken Bricks) talks to Ingrid Persaud


Thought leaders deliver headline think pieces throughout the Festival, tackling some of the biggest questions of our times, including philosopher Michael J Sandel with the Hay Festival Members Lecture on ethics, democracy and markets; the theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli delivers the annual Pugwash Lecture; and Channel 4 News’ Matt Frei delivers the Christopher Hitchens Lecture, asking: can America be saved?


Leading poets share new work and old favourites: the UK Poet Laureate Simon Armitage presents his latest collections, Blossomise, as well as Hansel & Gretel with illustrator Clive Hicks-JenkinsLemn Sissay performs Let the Light Pour InHollie McNish offers Lobster: And Other Things I'm Learning to Love; and Jackie Kay shares May Day; while lexicographer Susie Dent and the philosopher Rebecca Roache discuss words and their power to surprise. 

In a unique walking event curated with the Black British Book Festival, poet, playwright and rapper Ashleigh Nugent, Creative Director of RiseUp, a Manchester-based organisation that empowers individuals to better their circumstances, prospects and wellbeing, invites audiences to write lines inspired by nature, while two of Australia’s leading First Nations poets, Jazz Money and Ellen van Neerven, showcase their exceptional work in an event curated by Adelaide Writers' Week.

There are dynamic performances as creator and editor of The Poetry Pharmacy William Sieghart is joined by special guests including Natascha McElhone (The Crown, Designated Survivor), Dominic West (Brassic, The Wire) and more to be announced for an event of connection, imagination and inspiration; writers Joseph Coelho, Mererid Hopwood and Roy McFarlane lead a celebration of the life and work of Benjamin Zephaniah; and Literary Death Match brings together four established and emerging writers to compete in an edge-of-your-seat read-off critiqued by celebrity judges. 


Journalists, commentators and world leaders take stock in the daily News Review live on stage each morning of the Festival with guests including Co-executive Director of Greenpeace UK Areeba Hamid, Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates, MP Wes Streeting, Lady Brenda Hale, actor Doon Mackichan, politics professor David Runciman, comedian Marcus Brigstocke, the British Antarctic Survey’s physician Gavin Francis, former Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening, science journalist Layal Liverpool, Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow, geographer Danny Dorling, philosopher AC Grayling, historian David OlusogaReverend Richard Coles, and Professor Suzannah Lipscomb

In a year when more voters than ever in history will head to the polls, as at least 64 countries hold their elections, activists, policy makers and politicians take stock of democracy as Nobel Prize-winning activist Maria Ressa talks How to Stand Up to a Dictator: The Fight for Our FutureThe Guardian’s political sketch writer John Crace presents Depraved New World; public policy journalist Peter Foster joins LBC host James O’Brien to discuss the architects, disasters and myths of Brexit; barrister Michael Mansfield KC explores “people power”; Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times, speaks to writers Aditi Mittal, Elif Shafak and Lola Shoneyin about the vital role of the media, of culture and of the participation of women in this critical year for the future of democracy; journalists Tom Burgis and Carole Cadwalladr explore how lawsuits are being used to prevent the truth being exposed; Centre for Welsh Politics and Society Co-director Anwen Elias and the Aberystwyth University Dialogue Centre Principal Lead Jennifer Wolowich share their new project for democracy; human geographer Danny Dorling, Labour Party MP for Birmingham Yardley Jess Phillips, Brent Central MP Dawn Butler and philosopher AC Grayling talk compassion in politics; northern mayors Andy Burnham and Steve Rotheram offer a courageous and thought-provoking new vision for a fairer future; and overlaps in the upcoming UK and US elections are explored by historian Sarah Churchwell and journalist Matt Frei.

Personal stories from inside politics offer lessons for the future as former UK Prime Minister Theresa May discusses The Abuse of Power: Confronting Injustice in Public Life; the UK’s first and only Green Party MP Caroline Lucas explores Another England; and former Conservative Cabinet minister and co-presenter of The Rest is Politics podcast Rory Stewart offers an insider's account of ten extraordinary years in Parliament with Politics on the Edge.

The state of UK institutions is explored as two former secretaries of state Justine Greening and Charles Clarke explore a manifesto for education; actor Toby Jones joins journalist Nick Wallis to discuss the Post Office scandal, one of the most widespread and significant miscarriages of justice in UK legal history; Earl Charles Spencer shares his poignant memoir recounting his traumatic experiences of the boarding school system; and biographer Robert Hardman shares insights into the monarchy today.

The future of Europe is debated as journalist Misha Glenny asks former EU Vice-President, Baroness Catherine Ashton, political scientist Ivan Krastev and Polish politician Rafał Trzaskowski whether Europe can reassert itself as a global power. 

Global affairs are brought into focus as three journalists covering the Israel-Palestinian war speak about their work in the Gaza strip – Hind Hassan reports for VICEnews (HBO), Dalia Hatuqa writes on Middle East politics for the Washington Post and Lindsey Hilsum is Channel 4 News’ International Editor; author of The Bookseller of Kabul Åsne Seierstad explores the fall and rise of the Taliban; academic Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost shares Celtic Palestine: Culture and Conflict; and a real ambassador and a fictional one meet to discuss the world of diplomacy and international relations as Jane D Hartley joins Keri Russell

Economics and its effect on global affairs is explored by Grace Blakeley (Vulture Capitalism) and former Treasury Minister Liam Byrne (The Inequality of Wealth); Dharshini David (Environomics: How the Green Economy is Transforming Your World); and political economist and economic geographer Brett Christophers

South to South conversations, co-curated by Hay Festival teams in Mexico, Colombia and Peru with the support of the Open Society Foundations, spotlight the shared issues – and solutions – facing the Global South. Three authors sharing a personal history of displacement and violence – Hisham Matar, Elif Shafak and Adania Shibli – talk to human rights lawyer Philippe Sands about writing outside of their birth countries; and activist Sylvia Vasquez-Lavado discusses her inspiring work against sexual violence with In the Shadow of the Mountain.

A new partnership with Adelaide Writers' Week sees four events showcase ideas from Australia’s foremost writers and thinkers with Australian Financial Review’s International Editor James Curran, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, deputy Beijing bureau chief at the Financial Times Yuan Yang; novelist Pip Williams talks the power of words; journalists David Marr and Rachel Perkins on the killings of indigenous peoples, plus former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks women in politics.

And a trio of Hay Festival Thinkers in Residence host conversations on stage and off throughout the week questioning norms, finding new perspectives and challenging us to action: Ruby Wax explores mental health, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas explores our connections to nature, and Alex Wheatle reimagines what a festival can be. 


Hay Festival continues its global collaboration with Ukraine’s biggest book festival, Lviv BookForum, with the support of the Open Society Foundations, presenting two co-curated events throughout the Festival to promote great Ukrainian storytelling and explore the state of Ukraine today: a panel of writers – Sofia Cheliak, Sasha Dovzhyk and Olesya Khromeychuk – discuss what is currently happening in Ukraine, how to keep documenting the war and how to combat propaganda with journalist Peter Pomerantsev; and Putin Versus the West producer Norma Percy, former Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Réznikov and the director of the series Tim Stirzaker discuss their show.


The latest environmental science, sustainable policies and creative responses to the climate crisis are brought into focus in Hay Festival Green under this year’s theme of Mobilising for the Future, prompting a shared call to action.

Past Festival projects are revisited as broadcaster and author Kate Humble talks to three remarkable individuals who created leading climate projects, igniting hope and progress: Franny Armstrong’s 1010 Campaign, Garry Charnock’s creation of the first carbon neutral village and Ed Hawkins’ Climate Stripes illustrating temperature change – all inspired by events in previous years at Hay Festival.

The latest climate science is explored in conversations with ecologist Carwyn Graves, environmental philosopher Alan Marshall, climate scientist Michael Mann(Our Fragile Moment); chemical engineer Yasmin Ali, broadcaster Gwynne Dyer and Professor Sir David King, with a deep dive into the pivotal moments of the climate crisis; while writer and comedian Timandra Harkness, author of Technology is not the Problem, and Mark Stevenson, strategic advisor to governments, NGOs and corporates, map out AI solutions to the current climate crisis, with environmentalist Martin Wright.

Green economics comes into focus in sessions with journalist George Monbiot on The Invisible Doctrine: The Secret History of Neoliberalism (& How it Came to Control Your Life)Dharshini David on Environomics: How the Green Economy is Transforming Your World; the Great British Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant on Less: Stop Buying So Much RubbishLeo Murray and Andrew Simms (Badvertising: Polluting our Minds and Fuelling Climate Chaos); and two experts on green capitalism – Akshat Rathi and Hannah Ritchie – discuss its limits and potential

The politics of change is explored in conversation with former energy minister Chris Skidmore; doctor and aid worker Lynne Jones (Sorry for the Inconvenience but This is an Emergency), and lawyer and climate activist Farhana Yamin, a key architect of the Paris climate agreement, discuss the rise and methods of non-violent action for political change; while an expert panel discusses Wales’ global responsibility to tackle climate change and what we can do to reach net zero by 2035.

Our food and its impacts gets attention as Minette Batters, former president of the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales, the Knepp Estate’s Molly Biddel and economist Dieter Helm talk to the Director of Positive News UK Martin Wright about effective rewilding and a future strategy for food production; an expert panel of agriculture and environmental management experts – Ali Capper, Ian Maddock and David Throup – delve into the pressing issues surrounding the surge in flooding incidents; and food production experts Philip Lymbery and Ed Winters explore whether cultivated meat and veganism can beat climate change; while ethicist Melanie Challenger, vice president of the RSPCA, talks Animal Dignity, and rewilder Derek Gow and ecologist Hugh Warwick discuss the rival demands of reintroducing extinct species and managing invasive ones. 

Our impact on the natural world is underscored as Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction 2023-winner John Valliant talks Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World, author Gareth E Rees shares Sunken Lands: A Journey through Flooded Kingdoms and Lost Worlds, and academic Fiona Stafford talks Time and Tide: The Long, Long Life of Landscape.

Planet Assembly, a series of solutions-focused workshops at Hay Festival, returns to 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, and including members of the Festival audience sharing their projects and solutions, topics to be covered include energy, health, food, mobility, water, fashion, biodiversity and housing.


To mark this Olympic year, we present our first ever Hay Festival Sports Day on Wednesday 29 May. Worlds collide as leading thinkers join sports stars for a showcase of creative talent, an exploration of the Olympic spirit and interactive free activities all around the Festival site. 

One of football’s most successful players ever, Gary Lineker discusses his latest act as head of a podcasting empire, with hit shows including The Rest is Politics. With unrivalled experience of the world of sport, Lord Sebastian Coe discusses its past and future with journalist Matthew d’Ancona. We’re joined by Gŵyl Cymru Festival for an event celebrating the special relationship between sport and culture in Wales.

Questions around the business of sport come to the fore as Hay Festival President Stephen Fry joins professional cricketers Azeem Rafiq and Claire Taylor to discuss the institutional inequalities in the game with scientist Adam Rutherford; sportswoman Rebecca Ajulu-Bushell shares These Heavy Black Bones; plus ecologist Madeleine Orr considers how climate change is changing sport. 

Scottish National Coach and mother of champions Judy Murray presents her debut thriller The Wild Card, a tale of intrigue on the tennis courts. Three inspirational cyclists, Lee Craigie, Rebecca Lowe and Kate Rawles, discuss their adventures at home and abroad, from cycling through the Middle East and the Andes to engaging marginalised young people. And the QI Elves and No Such Thing as a Fish podcasters James Harkin and Anna Ptaszynski test the audience’s knowledge with their interactive sports quiz.


Leading travel and nature writers celebrate the natural world in conversations with naturalist Mark Cocker (One Midsummer’s Day), broadcaster Hamza Yassin (Be a Birder) and ecologist Chris Thorogood (Pathless Forest), biologist Merlin Sheldrake (Entangled Life) takes us on a mind-altering journey into the spectacular world of fungi, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer shares Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants with farmer and author James Rebanks, and physicist Helen Czerski and marine biologist Helen Scales explore the hidden depths of the ocean. 

The quiet art of fishing is celebrated as founder of the Northern Fishing School Marina Gibson talks Cast, Catch and Release and comedian and broadcaster Paul Whitehouse talks Gone Fishing with his fellow fisherman and consultant on the series, John Bailey.

Meanwhile, off-site Wayfaring Walks see writers, tree wardens and ecologists lead guided tours of the spectacular countryside with the Bannau Brycheingiog Natural Park team; and Farm Walks give Festivalgoers a chance to get closer to local rural life.


Creatives, thinkers and activists share their personal stories to inspire and challenge in conversations with Welsh superstar Bonnie Tyler (Straight from the Heart), actor Miriam Margolyes (Oh Miriam!), journalist Clive Myrie (Everything is Everything), musician Charlotte Church, comedian and screenwriter David Baddiel (My Family: The Memoir), The Repair Shop host Jay Blades (Life Lessons), trader Gary Stevenson (The Trading Game), MP Wes Streeting (One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up), comedian Viv Groskup (One Ukrainian Summer), singer-songwriter James Blunt (Loosely Based on a Made-Up Story), and sportswoman Rebecca Ajulu-Bushell (These Heavy Black Bones); while Polly Atkin talks about her book Some of Us Just Fall with Bethany Handley, a writer and disability activist from South Wales.

Conversations on women in the workplace include leadership coach Lucy Ryan with President of Murray Edwards College, Cambridge Dorothy Byrne on the discrimination faced by women over 50; broadcaster Elizabeth Day unpacks her Confessions of a Friendship Addict; Channel 4 broadcaster Cathy Newman shares The Ladder: Life Lessons from Women who Scaled the Heights & Dodged the SnakesCaitlin Moran asks What About Men?; WOW (Women of the World) founder Jude Kelly shares an evening of optimism, determination and laughter; and three acclaimed writers and researchers – Pragya Agarwal, Lucy Jones and Clover Stroud – discuss the far-reaching effects of maternity together with author and journalist Candice Brathwaite (Manifesto: Unlock the Life You Deserve), who also talks empowerment with consultant and coach Africa Brooke (The Third Perspective) and journalist Nichi Hodgson; psychology researcher Dr Peter Olusoga chairs a panel on lifelong health and happiness with Dr Federica Amati (Every Body Should Know This), Dr Alex George (The Mind Manual), and ultra-athlete Josh Llewellyn-Jones; world-leading microbiome scientist and surgeon James Kinross shows how our microbiome impacts on exercise, sleep, diet and ageing; and Nobel Prize-winning biologist and former president of the Royal Society Venki Ramakrishnan talks Why We Die: The New Science of Ageing and the Quest for Immortality

Faith comes to the fore as the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and Marie-Elsa Bragg, a priest in the diocese of London and Duty Chaplain of Westminster Abbey, discuss faith, grief and how we can better relate to our world. Meanwhile, Festivalgoers are invited to start their days with a morning yoga class designed to reinvigorate and inspire. 


Impacts of AI are explored from all angles: author and scholar Carl Miller speaks to Madhumita Murgia, the first artificial intelligence editor for the Financial Times, with academics Stuart Russell and Carissa Véliz; Professor of Politics at Cambridge University David Runciman talks The Handover: How We Gave Control of Our Lives to Corporations, States and AIsVerity Harding, a leading insider in technology and politics and director of the AI & Geopolitics Institute at the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge, talks to Dr Jonnie Penn, associate teaching professor of AI Ethics and Society at the University of Cambridge; while journalist Marianna Spring shares her journey through the world of misinformation.

The space scientist, writer and broadcaster Maggie Aderin-Pocock offers a tour of the night sky; and astronaut Tim Peake shares Space: The Human Story; while philosopher AC Grayling examines the questions and precedents to ask: what should be done to avoid competition in Space becoming conflict on Earth?

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 University of Worcester. 


Sweeping histories of humanity inform the present as SOAS president Zeinab Badawi on An African History of Africa: From the Dawn of Humanity to Independence; Oxford professor of globalisation and development Ian Goldin shares The Shortest History of MigrationJosephine Quinn on How the World Made the West, covering 4,000 years of global history; and social philosopher Roman Krznaric looks at one thousand years of history to help us confront the challenges of the 21st century.

Colonialism and its impacts on the world are explored as journalist Sathnam Sanghera talks EmpireworldNandini Das shares the fascinating history of Britain’s first ambassador to the Mughal Empire, Thomas Roe (Courting India); and Corinne Fowler brings rural life and colonial rule together, sharing the ways in which the British Empire transformed rural lives, offering opportunity and seeking exploitation. 

Historians share lessons from key events as journalist Peter Apps looks at the history of NATO in its 75th year; David Van Reybrouck explores Indonesia’s struggle for independence (Revolusi); Luca Trenta talks The President’s Kill List: Assassination in US Foreign Policy Since 1945; military historian Max Hastings talks Operation Biting; 40 years on from one of the largest strikes in British history, academic Robert Gildea, journalist Amanda Powell and photographer Richard Williams reflect on the its lasting impacts; historian of the mental afterlife of conflict Imogen Peck examines the civil wars that engulfed Britain in the mid-1600s and what we might learn from them today; and the editors of Yr Apêl/The Appeal 1923–24 Mererid Hopwood and Jenny Mathers share the remarkable story of the Welsh Women’s Peace Petition. Meanwhile, Queer lives are centred by Dr Diarmuid Hester with Nothing Ever Just Disappears

The ancient world is explored with fresh eyes as Bettany Hughes talks The Seven Wonders of the Ancient WorldNatalie Haynes talks goddesses in Greek myth; and Tom Holland shares Pax: War and Peace in Rome's Golden Age.

Archaeologists and curators look at the past through objects in conversations with Alice Roberts on Crypt; Festival stars delve into a collection of 101 objects that make up the neglected history of women in a special gala event featuring Julia Gillard, Helena Kennedy, Miriam Margolyes and Aditi Mittal; while lawyer Philippe Sands joins writers Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Selva Almada to launch Explorers, Dreamers and Thieves, a new collaboration between Hay Festival and the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research at the British Museum, published by Charco Press in May 2024.

Local history comes to the fore as Hay resident Mary Morgan and historian Elizabeth Bingham share secrets of local monuments; and audiences are invited to get interactive with local archaeology in a guided tour of the Snodhill Castle site.


Late nights at Hay Festival are given over to great music, comedy and entertainment. 

Live sets from The FontanasJools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra; brass band Perhaps Contraption; award-winning musician and composer Nitin Sawhney; folk-tinged acoustic pop with rising star Jasmine Jethwa; DJ of the Year-winner Smokin Jo; saxophonist Marcus Joseph; genre-splicing supergroup LYR, whose members include Poet Laureate Simon Armitage; and a unique evening of music and storytelling from musician and actor Johnny Flynn with nature writer Robert Macfarlane, keep the Festival buzzing with activity until late.

Audiences are encouraged to get musical as choir director Juliet Russell teaches a song in an hour; Welsh radio DJ Huw Stephens explores the best music from Wales; Belize-born composer Errollyn Wallen shares stories from her life; King of Rockfield, Kingsley Ward MBE, and studio manager Lisa Ward talk about the legendary studio location.

Classical fans have much to enjoy through the week as four BBC Radio 3 lunchtime recitals at St Mary’s Church mark the centenary of Gabriel Fauré’s death, featuring Leonore Piano Trio, Charles Owen and Lawrence Power; and the Will Barnes Jazz Quartet present their debut album, Source of the Severn. Plus, Hay Music presents a series of events including performances from Hereford Chamber Choir, pianists Clare Hammond and the Fidelio Trio; and there are performances on site from favourites Hay Community Choir and the Welsh National Opera.

Unmissable one-off events blend great literature and music, including creator Anais Mitchell and UK cast of the Tony and Grammy award-winning musical Hadestown who perform excerpts, share stories and answer questions; pianist Clare Hammond and actor Tama Matheson perform Lord Byron’s Don Juan; a panel or writers including Jeffrey Boakye, George the Poet and Aleema Gray reflect on music as a political and shaping force, and on six centuries of African musical contribution to the UK and the world; and authors Dylan Jones and Tiffany Murray discuss their memoirs, both captivating accounts of unusual lives in late 20th-century Britain, in which celebrities pop up regularly.

Laughter comes in the form of new comedy shows from Sara Pascoe, Jon Ronson, Ruby Wax, Nish Kumar, Angela Barnes, Adam Kay, Josh Berry, Garth Marenghi, Sofie Hagen, Ahir Shah, Natalie Haynes, Julian Clary and Marcus Brigstocke; comedy club nights featuring Stuart GoldsmithAnia MaglianoShaparak KhorsandiLaura Lexx and Lou Sanders; a special live recording of Jon Richardson and the Futurenauts with Amy LaméBlindboy on Topographia Hibernica; a series of Robin Ince Book Clubs; and late night Marcel Lucont’s Cabaret Fantastique featuring Rob Deering, Sara Twister and Jon Udry

Two titans of the comedy scene – Helen Lederer and Doon Mackichan – share their experiences from stage and screen; stand-up Aditi Mittal joins comedy writer Joel Morris and actor Julian Rhind-Tutt in conversation with Viv Groskop on the limits of comedy; and writers Dom Joly and Danny Wallace take a look at conspiracy theories. 

There’s drama and performance as Judi Dench shares Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays the Rent alongside actor and director Brendan O’Hea; meanwhile playwright and novelist Michael Frayn discusses the art of storytelling with his daughter, screenwriter and novelist Rebecca Frayn, in an event chaired by his grandson, producer and filmmaker Jack Harries.

The Platform offers a new space for young, emerging artists to share their work with Hay Festival audiences. Spanning a diverse range of art forms, The Platform aims to elevate and develop outstanding creative artists at the start of their careers, with submissions open now.

Free pop-up performances around the site showcase local talent as students from Hereford College of Arts share their latest production, Midlands-born Got 2 Sing Choir perform and local group Hay Shantymen return. 


A series of Festival sessions encourages audiences to get creative, including writing masterclasses with novelists Ingrid Persaud and Clover Stroud; poetry writing with former Poet Laureate and the Birmingham & Midland Institute’s Poet in Residence Roy McFarlane; and singing with the Welsh National Opera.

Art as an act of storytelling comes to the fore as artist and stage designer Es Devlin shares An Atlas of Es Devlin; photographer Billie Charity joins Miss Drag UK-winner Boo La Croux in conversation on the art of drag in the farming community, chaired by Herefordshire farmer Ben Andrews; journalist Ros Atkins shares The Art of the Explanation; and architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick talks Humanise.

The joy of gardening takes centre stage as gardeners Sue Kent and Sarah Raven share their top tips; community gardener and designer Tayshan Hayden-Smithand writer Alan Heeks discuss the importance of greenery of all kinds; writer Olivia Laing moves between real and imagined gardens to interrogate the sometimes shocking cost of making paradise on earth; and Chair of the National Trust René Olivieri presents a special event with farmer and broadcaster Kate Humble, conservationist and wildlife presenter on BBC2’s Springwatch Megan McCubbin, and actor, writer and comedian Paul Whitehouse, on how we rediscover the power of connection with nature.


A new series of events bring the flavours off the page for audiences in demonstrations and tastings featuring Gelf Alderson (Cooking with the River Cottage Chef); Marie Mitchell (Kin: Caribbean Recipes for the Modern Kitchen); Jane Parkinson (Wine & Food); Julius Roberts (The Farm Table); Honey & Co’s Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich; and a tour and tasting of UK small-producer cheese, exploring its history and culture, drawing on Ned Palmer’s A Cheesemonger’s History of the British Isles.

Food writers Taras Grescoe and Pen Vogler discuss the history and future of food, from ancient Egyptian sourdough and medieval inns to Regency roast goose and post-war strawberries; chef Anna Jones presents Easy Wins; and two experts on the ancient tradition of fermentation – Pao-Yu Liu and James Read – explore this essential feature of diets around the world. 

River Cottage author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (How to Eat 30 Plants a Week: 100 Recipes to Boost Your Health and Energy) joins scientist Tim Spector (Food for Life) for a conversation on gut health; while chef Sam Cooper, gardener Huw Richards and forensic scientist and author Peter Wohlleben help audiences take the first steps in their journeys to become more self-sufficient.

Festival media partners broadcast live from the Festival site in the 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 The TLS, Baillie Gifford Prize Read Smart, and more. 


There’s more than ever for families to enjoy at Hay Festival as a newly expanded site includes a dedicated family area, featuring creative hubs, event venues and a family garden full of free activities to engage young minds. 

Festival events on stage inspire the next generation of readers and writers with new fiction from Jeff Kinney (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Cressida Cowell (Which Way Round the Galaxy), Jacqueline Wilson (The Girl Who Wasn’t There), Geri Halliwell-Horner (Rosie Frost and the Falcon Queen), Lauren Child (Clarice Bean: Smile), Oliver Jeffers (Begin Again), Philip Reeve & Sarah McIntyre (Adventuremice: Mice on the Moon), Alice Roberts (Wolf Road), Stephen & Anita Mangan (The Day I Fell Down the Toilet), Sir Lenny Henry (Clash of the Superkids), Jim Smith aka Waldo Pancake (How to be a Genius Kid), Sue Hendra (Supertato: Eviltato vs Superpea), Zeb Soanes (Peter the Cat’s Little Book of Big Words), Louie Stowell (Loki: A Bad God’s Guide to Ruling the World), Jonny Duddle(Gigantosaurus), Abi Elphinstone (Ember Spark and the Thunder of Dragons), Ken Wilson-Max (Aqua Boy), John Dougherty (Zooming the Zoo), Katya Balen (Foxlight), Jeffrey Boakye (Kofi and the Secret Radio Station), Jenny Pearson (The Incredible Record Smashers), AF Steadman (Skandar and the Chaos Trials), Alex Willmore (Spyceratops), Julian Clary and David Roberts (The Bolds), Sophy Henn (Happy Hills: Giant Danger Kittens), Laura Ellen Anderson (Marnie Midnight and the Moon Mystery), Ed Vere (The Elephant and the Sea), Rob Biddulph (Peanut Jones), Hartigan Browne (Cluedle: The Case of the Dumpleton Diamond), Ben Garrod (A Dog in Africa), Steve Antony (Cat Nap & Rainbowsaurus), Nathanael Lessore (Steady for This), Frank Cottrell-Boyce (The Wonder Brothers), Dermot O’Leary (Wings of Glory), Ruchira Gupta (I Kick and I Fly), Robin Stevens (The Ministry of Unladylike Activity 2: The Body in the Blitz), Katherine Rundell (Impossible Creatures), Laura Dockrill and Lauren Child (Grey), and David Baddiel (The Parent Agency).

Teen readers gain inspiration from YA writers including Laura Bates (Sisters of Sword and Shadow), Alex Norris (How to Love), Jessie Yendle (Let’s Talk), Holly Jackson (The Reappearance of Rachel Price), Benjamin Dean (How to Die Famous), Danielle Jawando (If My Words Had Wings) and Krystal Sutherland (The Invocations).

There are lively performances as Marcel Lucont offers Les Enfants TerriblesMichael Morpurgo and special guests share Tales from ShakespeareMichael Rosen presents a morning of poetry; Simon Mole and Gecko offer their Dino-show; Hereford College of Arts perform A Midsummer Night’s Dream: The MusicalMC Grammar takes to the stage; Andy Stanton and Carrie Quinlan share Ask the Nincompoops; UK Waterstones Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho presents his latest work; Mama G performs The Magic Bookmark; National Poet of Wales Hanan Issa joins special guests to share And I Hear Dragons; and The Repair Shop Teddy Bear Ladies offer Bartie Bristle and Other Stories.

The world around us comes into focus in science and history events for young readers featuring Hamza Yassin (Eco Quest), Jean Menzies (Goddesses and Heroines), Adam Kay and Henry Paker (Kay’s Incredible Inventions), Peter Wohlleben (Be a Nature Explorer!)Ben Martynoga (Explodapedia: Rewild), Dr Amir Khan (Little Experts: How Families Are Made), Greg Jenner (Totally Chaotic History: Ancient Egypt), Maggie Aderin-Pocock (Am I Made of Stardust?), Robert Winston (The Story of Science), Shelina Janmohamed (Story of Now: Let’s Talk about the British Empire), Jeffrey Boakye (Musical World), Nikita Gill (Animal Tales From India), Adam Henson (Curious Questions From Adam’s Farm), Preet Chandi (The Explorer’s Guide to Going Wild: Find Adventure Anywhere) and Jess French (The Animal Body Book). 

Young Festivalgoers are encouraged to get creative in the Make & Take Tent throughout the Festival, while there are workshops and interactive events with dynamic creatives Nia Morais, Julian Sedgwick and Chie Kutsuwada, Casi Wyn, and Sarah Coyle.


The schools programme opens the Festival, bringing together writers and young readers for a series of inspiring interactive activities and conversations in person and online, 23–24 May, with support from the Welsh Government and the Rothschild Foundation. 

KS2 events on Thursday 23 May include writers Maz Evans, Katie & Kevin Tsang, Connor Allen, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, MG Leonard, Kiran Millwood- Hargrave, Lee Newbery, Jeff Kinney, Matt Goodfellow, Adam Rutherford, Tọlá Okogwu and Children's Laureate Wales 2023-2025 Alex Wharton.

KS3/4 events on Friday 24 May feature writers Alex Wheatle, Jenny Valentine, Sarah Crossan, Phil Earle, Aneirin Karadog, Ashley Hickson-Lovence, Nicola Garrard, AM Dassu, Anthony Horowitz, Daniel Morden, Frances Hardinge and Manon Steffan Ros. Plus, a live recording of BBC Radio 4’s Front Row will spotlight the power of literature in front of an audience of pupils. 

For those who can’t access the free events in person, sessions will also be streamed free online, with closed captioning available at hayfestival.org/schools, and available free after the event at hayfestival.org/anytime (formerly Hay Player). 

Last year’s schools programme at Hay Festival 2023 saw more than 7,500 pupils attend from across England and Wales, while digital events over the past three years have reached more than 146,400 pupils through free events online.