The Reading Agency and BBC Arts to launch Big Sporting Read at Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye 2024

The Big Sporting Read – a new national celebration of reading - will launch at this spring’s Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye (23 May–2 June), using the power of books to unite communities and celebrate a landmark summer of sport.

The Big Sporting Read is a collaboration between national charity The Reading Agency and BBC Arts, aiming to use the power of sport to inspire readers across the UK – highlighting the links between sporting excellence, reading, health and wellbeing. 

A specially curated list of titles will be announced at Hay Festival Hay-on-Wye, offering book-lovers a range of genres and sports, across fiction and non-fiction. The books will be expertly curated by The Reading Agency together with librarians, booksellers, and an expert advisory panel.

The full list of titles will be revealed on the first ever Hay Festival Sports Day, Wednesday 29 May. Taking place within the Festival programme, the day will see a sporting takeover of the Festival site, exploring the relationship between sport and the arts through events and activities. Audiences can discover the programme and book tickets now at 

The campaign will then run throughout summer 2024, coinciding with a packed sporting calendar including the UEFA Euro 2024, Wimbledon Championships, The Open Championship and the Olympics and Paralympics in Paris. Libraries, bookshops, and leisure centres across the UK are set to get involved in the campaign by promoting the books and hosting activities and community events at their respective venues.

BBC Arts will be supporting the campaign with special programming across its broadcast channels and digital platforms, using its unrivalled reach into UK households to engage diverse audiences. This campaign follows on from several successful Reading Agency and BBC collaborations, including The Big Eurovision Read in 2023 and The Big Jubilee Read in 2022.

Karen Napier, CEO of The Reading Agency said: “The Big Sporting Read will inspire people across the UK to pick up a book and get reading, and we’re delighted to be launching it with BBC Arts at Hay Festival this year. This campaign will celebrate the power of sport and reading, and we’re sure the booklist will feature an exciting range of titles and themes will motivate both keen readers and those new to books to dive into a great story.”

Suzy Klein, Head of BBC Arts, said: “I’m delighted that The Big Sporting Read means that BBC Arts will working again with The Reading Agency, following on from our successful collaborations together which have introduced so many new readers to a range of brilliant books. We can’t wait to bring book-lovers a new wealth of books, and to be partnering with the UK’s leading book festival, Hay Festival, as we come together to promote the joys of physical and mental wellbeing, sport and reading – in what promises to be a joyful summer.”

Hay Festival Global CEO Julie Finch said: “We are excited to support The Reading Agency and BBC Arts in launching The Big Sporting Read at Hay Festival 2024 as part of our first-ever Sports Day celebrations. In this huge sporting year, we want to celebrate the impact athletes have had on the arts and build bridges between these two worlds. Through these new projects and platforms, we will encourage new audiences to find their paths into books and discover a love of reading.”

The full booklist and further details about the Big Sporting Read will be announced at the Hay Festival launch.