Hay Festival Wales 2019 earlybirds released

11 earlybird events for Hay Festival Wales 2019 (23 May - 2 June) were released today, offering a snapshot of a programme full of new perspectives on a changing world.

Earlybird events include conversations with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and geographer Jared Diamond (Upheaval); Nobel Prize-winning biologist Venki Ramakrishnan (Gene Machine); and travel writers Robert Macfarlane (Underland: A Deep Time Journey) and Horatio Clare (The Light in the Dark, Something of his Art).

In fiction, award-winning novelist Leila Slimani talks about Adèle, the follow-up to her best-selling novel Lullaby; Man Booker Prize 2018 winner Anna Burns talks Milkman; while Markus Zusak discusses The Book Thief in a special Hay Festival Book of the Month event.

Anniversaries of two of the best-loved children’s books of our times are marked as Julia Donaldson presents her Gruffalo live show in the book’s 20th year, while Michael Rosen talks We’re Going on a Bear Hunt at 30.

And a trio of performances round out the earlybirds release, with comedian and broadcaster Sandi Toksvig offering her latest show; and there are all-star performances of Diaries Live and Speeches Live.

Tickets are on sale at noon Monday 3 December to Friends of Hay Festival online or via 01497 822 629. Public booking opens Thursday 6 December at 8am.

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said: “The perfect gifts of ideas and stories and laughter this Christmas. And we’ll send you the promise of spring. The full programme will be launched on 29th March, with some fanfare.”

Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together to share stories and ideas in sustainable events across the globe. Over 600 award-winning writers, global policy makers, pioneers and innovators are expected to appear at the late spring festival in events across 11 days, while HAYDAYS and #HAYYA programmes will give young readers the opportunity to meet their heroes and get creative.

The Festival site is free to enter, with ticketed events in 10 tented venues, plus a range of sites to explore, including the Festival Bookshop; the HAYDAYS courtyard; the Hay Festival Wild Garden; creative workshops in the Make and Take Tent, the Scribblers Hut, The Cube and the Mess Tent; market stalls, cafés and restaurants; and a new Serious Reading Room.

A new global Hay Festival project – Hay Festival Europa28 – will launch at the festival, promoting the sharing of ideas across Europe and beyond through specially commissioned lectures and essays by the continent’s most inspiring writers and thinkers.

Two free Schools Days will open proceedings on Thursday 23 May (KS 2) and Friday 24 May (KS 3 and 4), blending live performance, workshops and storytelling in specially curated sessions funded by the Welsh Government and Hay Festival Foundation. Over 20,000 pupils are expected to attend, while a host of education projects – the Beacons Project, Hay Compass, Hay Academy, Hay Levels, free tickets for students in tertiary education, and Hay Festival Scribblers Tour – will reach thousands more.

Hay on Earth, the festival’s sustainability programme, will start the festival on Thursday 23 May with its annual forum, throwing a spotlight on the growing climate crisis and exploring sustainable solutions for rural communities, taking the theme: Food, Farming and Futures.

Readers are encouraged to explore the spectacular surrounds of the Brecon Beacons National Park in a series of new Wayfaring Walks and Mountain Warehouse Walks with expert guides and acclaimed nature writers.

Winners of the Hay Festival Medals 2019 will be celebrated on stage. Awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), and crafted locally by silversmith Christopher Hamilton, the Hay Festival Medals draw inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry. Past winners include Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood, John le Carré, Laura Marling and Ahdaf Soueif.

Meanwhile, Hay Festival Creative Wales International Fellow 2018-19, editor and writer Dylan Moore will continue his global Hay Festival travels, joining the Wales line-up to present a series of interviews, lectures and workshops on displacement. Moore is editor of the welsh agenda, the magazine for the Institute of Welsh Affairs think-tank, and English teacher at Llanwern High School in Newport, Gwent. His debut book, Driving Home Both Ways (Parthian), is out now.

The full Hay Festival 2019 programme will be announced on Friday 29 March 2019.