Hay Festival Digital Winter Weekend 2020

We are delighted to present our 2020 Winter Weekend Digital Festival programme.

All events are free to access and it couldn't be easier to register and watch. Simply browse the programme and click "register" for any event you wish to see. You will need to log in to the website or create an account in order to do this. We'll send you a confirmation email once you've booked your first event, and all the events that you subsequently book will be added to your own Winter Weekend Schedule. All events are available with subtitles.

Once you have registered, follow the "Go to Event" link under each listing, or follow the link in your Winter Weekend Schedule to watch. To make sure you don't miss anything, we'll also send you an email reminder just before each of your booked events begins. You will be able to replay all events for free for the duration of the weekend, after this time they will be available on Hay Player.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us: boxoffice@hayfestival.org.

Event 36

Welcome to Hay

Behind the Scenes at Hay Castle

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
We know most of you can't visit at the moment so here's a little taster of Hay at this time last year and as it is today. We will also join TV presenter and archaeologist Jules Hudson (Escape to the Country, Countryfile) as he tours the restoration work at Hay Castle with site historian Mari Fforde. This is a unique opportunity to get a glimpse behind the scenes of the incredible transformation of this historic building which over the centuries has been a fortress, a family home, and world-famous bookshop. Hay Castle will reopen to the public in 2021, and Jules and Mari will show you some of the surprises you can look forward to.

Event 1

Antony Gormley and Martin Gayford

Shaping the World: Sculpture from Pre-History to Now

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Sculpture is the universal art. It has been practised by every culture throughout the world and stretches back into the distant past. The first surviving shaped stones may even predate the advent of language. The drive to form stone, clay, wood and metal into shapes runs deep in our psyche and biology. This links the question ‘What is sculpture?’ to the question ‘What is humanity?’

In this wide-ranging book, two complementary voices – one belonging to an artist who looks to Asian and Buddhist traditions as much as to Western sculptural history (Antony Gormley), the other to a critic and historian (Martin Gayford) – consider how sculpture has been central to the evolution of our potential for thinking and feeling.

Event 2

Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris talk to Nicola Davies

The Lost Spells

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

This magical new book from the creators of the literary phenomenon and Hay Festival Book of the Year 2017, The Lost Words, introduces a beautiful new set of natural spell-poems and artwork by the creative duo Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. As in The Lost Words, these ‘spells’ take their subjects from relatively commonplace but under-appreciated, animals, birds, trees and flowers – from Barn Owl to Red Fox, Grey Seal to Silver Birch, Jay to Jackdaw. But they find new shapes, new spaces and new voices with which to conjure. Dazzingly inventive, they are written to be read aloud, painted in brushstrokes that call to the forest, field, riverbank and to the heart. The Lost Spells summons back what is often lost from sight and care, and inspires protection and action on behalf of the natural world. Above all, it celebrates a sense of wonder, bearing witness to nature's power to amaze, console and bring joy. Featuring the Silver Birch Spell, a beautiful new video that will premiere at Hay.

Event 3

Pen Vogler talks to Dan Saladino

Scoff – A History of Food and Class in Britain

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Avocado or beans on toast? Gin or claret? Nut roast or game pie? Milk in first or milk in last? And do you have tea, dinner or supper in the evening? In this fascinating social history of food in Britain, Pen Vogler examines the origins of our eating habits and reveals how they are loaded with centuries of class prejudice. Covering such topics as fish and chips, roast beef, avocados, tripe, fish knives and the surprising origins of breakfast, Scoff reveals how in Britain we have become experts at using eating habits to make judgements about social background.

Bringing together evidence from cookbooks, literature, artworks and social records from 1066 to the present, Vogler traces the changing fortunes of the food we encounter today, and unpicks the aspirations and prejudices of the people who have shaped our cuisine for better or worse.

Pen Vogler is the author of Dinner with Mr Darcy, Tea with Jane Austen, Dinner with Dickens and Christmas with Dickens. She writes and reviews on food history for the press, edited Penguin's Great Food series and has recreated recipes from the past for BBC Television.

Dan Saladino is an author and broadcaster and has been one of the key presenters on BBC’s The Food Programme since 2006.

Event 4

Irenosen Okojie and Carys Bray talk to Rosie Goldsmith

Nudibranch/When the Lights Go Out

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Nudibranch is a dark and seductive foray into the surreal by Irenosen Okojie, the winner of the AKO Cain Prize for African Writing. In this collection of short stories, offbeat characters are caught up in extraordinary situations that test the boundaries of reality. A love-hungry goddess of the sea arrives on an island inhabited by eunuchs. A girl from Martinique moonlights as a Grace Jones impersonator. And a homeless man goes right back to the very beginning, through a gap in time.

Carys Bray is a Costa short-listed author of When the Lights go Out, which brilliantly explores a marriage in crisis. The book centres on the relationship between Emma, preparing for Christmas, and her husband Chris, preparing for the end of the world. In his mind, desperate times call for desperate measures. He has turned off the heating, has filled the garage with rice and beans and wants the family to practise suturing on the pig’s trotters he’s put in the freezer. He has other plans that, if voiced, Emma would surely veto. But what if, while preparing for disaster, he unwittingly precipitates it?

Event 7

Elizabeth Day talks to Dolly Alderton

Failosophy - A Handbook For When Things Go Wrong

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage
In Failosophy, Elizabeth Day, author of How to Fail, and creator of the award-winning podcast How To Fail With Elizabeth Day, brings together all the lessons she has learned from her own life, from conversations with her podcast guests, and from meeting readers and listeners who have shared their stories with her.


Building on the words of wisdom from the likes of Malcolm Gladwell, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Lemn Sissay, Nigel Slater, Emeli Sande, Meera Syal, Dame Kelly Holmes, Andrew Scott and many, many more – Elizabeth has distilled her findings into seven key principles of failure:


1. Failure just is

2. You are not your worst thoughts.

3. Almost everyone feels they’ve failed at their 20s.

4. Break-ups are not a tragedy

5. Failure is data acquisition

6. There is no such thing as a future you

7. Being open about your vulnerabilities is the ultimate act of strength

Practical, inspirational and with carefully selected quotes from the podcast guests, who have insights into everything from failed exams, romantic break-ups and how to cope with severe anxiety, Failosophy is the essential guide for turning our failures into our successes, and the equivalent of having a chat with a good friend who wants to make you feel better.
‘A beautiful timely and humane book. If there's one philosophy the world needs more of right now, it's Failosophy’ ALAIN DE BOTTON

Event 6

Lee Child talks to Heather Martin

The Reacher Guy

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Lee Child, otherwise known as James Dover Grant CBE and a judge for the 2020 Booker Prize, is the author of 24 Jack Reacher books, which have sold more than 100 million copies in 40 languages worldwide. In conversation with his biographer Heather Martin, he talks about his extraordinary tale of self-reinvention, the concept of the hero, and how Reacher was already part of his life long before he ever dreamed of becoming a writer.

Event 5

Jonathan Freedland, David Olusoga and Katya Adler

2020 Vision: a year of change

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Covid, BLM, Brexit, climate breakdown and the US elections... 2020 has been a year of local and global upheaval and we've still another month to go. Our panel of journalists and commentators take us through the highs and lows and share their thoughts about what the next 12 months might bring.

Chaired by Guto Harri.

Event 8

John Lanchester

Dark Tales for a Winter Weekend 1 – Reality, and Other Stories

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

John Lanchester’s first book of shorter fictions, Reality, and Other Stories is a gathering of deliciously chilling entertainments, to be read as the evenings darken and the days are haunted by all the ghastly schlock, uncanny technologies and absurd horrors of modern life. These are very modern ghost stories from the Booker-nominated author of The Wall. John Lanchester reads an extract from these contemporary, biting satires.

Event 9

Ed Vere

How to Be a Lion

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Join Ed Vere on the vast plains of Africa (or live from his studio) for a winter story-telling event. Ed will be telling us about his life as a writer and illustrator and reading his book How to be a Lion. Then, get ready to be creative as Ed shows you some ways to make your own lion.

3+ years

Event 10

Nick Sharratt

Ketchup on Your Reindeer

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Following on from the gleeful silliness of Ketchup On Your Cornflakes?, Nick Sharratt’s new flap book is full of festive fun. Join him for a deliciously daft event where he’ll be sharing his books, doing lots of drawing and asking important questions like, ‘Do you like tinsel on your toes, holly on your Santa, or dog biscuits on your Christmas tree?’

1+ years

Event 11

Sander van der Linden, Stefanie Ullmann and Nina Schick

Covid-19, Digital Democracy and Fake News

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

The pandemic has stretched resources and exposed system strengths and weaknesses in many areas of society. Our panel looks at one major area – data and the internet – and examines how important it has been in tracking and tracing, providing information and managing the response to Covid-19. But the flip side of this is the use of those very same systems to spread false information, conspiracy theories and fake news. How do we enable digital democracy and free speech while preventing the malicious spread and impact of lies and falsehoods?

Sander van der Linden is Associate Professor (Reader) of Social Psychology in Society in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge and Director of the Cambridge Social Decision-Making Lab; Stefanie Ullmann is a Postdoctoral Research Associate on the project Giving Voice to Digital Democracies: The Social Impact of Artificially Intelligent Communications Technology.

In conversation with Nina Schick, author and broadcaster, specialising in how technology and artificial intelligence are reshaping society.

Event 12

Joanne Harris talks to Paul Blezard

Orfeia and Ten Things About Writing

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

When you can find me an acre of land,

Every sage grows merry in time,

Between the ocean and the sand

Then will you be united again.

So begins Harris’ stunning new novella Orfeia, a gender-flipped retelling of the Orpheus Myth, beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins. This is a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even in the underworld itself. Not content with releasing her new novella, Joanna Harris has also newly published a guide on how to write. Using the Twitter hashtag #tentweets, she shares bitesize chunks of practical advice and guidance on writing and finding readers. Based on these popular tweets, Ten Things is a collection of wisdom on creating and publishing your own books. The author’s clear and encouraging style provides genuine insight and practical help that will be invaluable to any would-be writer. Paul Blezard is a literary editor, broadcaster and commentator.

Event 13

Helen Macdonald and James Rebanks talk to Andy Fryers

Landscapes, Legacies and Relationships

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Vesper Flights brings together a collection of the H is for Hawk author Helen Macdonald’s best-loved writing, along with new pieces covering a thrilling range of subjects. There are essays here on headaches, catching swans, hunting mushrooms, 20th-century spies, numinous experiences and high-rise buildings; on nests and wild pigs and the tribulations of farming ostriches.

It’s a book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make the world around us. Moving and frank, personal and political, it confirms Helen Macdonald as one of our greatest nature writers.

As a boy, James Rebanks's grandfather taught him to work the land the old way. Their family farm in the Lake District hills was part of an ancient landscape: a patchwork of crops and meadows, of pastures grazed with livestock, and hedgerows teeming with wildlife. And yet, by the time James inherited the farm, it was barely recognisable. The men and women had vanished from the fields; the old stone barns had crumbled; the skies had emptied of birds and their wind-blown song. English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world have been brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things are being lost. And yet this elegy from the Lake District fells is also a song of hope: how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.

Event 14

Douglas Stuart

Winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage
Douglas Stuart's Shuggie Bain has been named as the winner of the 2020 Booker Prize for Fiction. Based on Stuart's own childhood, Shuggie Bain tells the story of a young boy growing up in 1980s Glasgow with a mother who is battling addiction. Stuart, a former fashion designer who started writing in his spare time a decade ago, dedicated the book to his own mother, who died of alcoholism when he was 16.
Douglas Stuart is in conversation with the writer and broadcaster Natalie Haynes.

The Booker Prize is open to fiction writers of any nationality writing in English and published in the UK or Ireland. The shortlist of six was selected from 162 submitted books and included:

  • Diane Cook The New Wilderness,
  • Tsitsi Dangarembga This Mournable Body,
  • Avni Doshi Burnt Sugar,
  • Maaza Mengiste The Shadow King,
  • Douglas Stuart Shuggie Bain,
  • Brandon Taylor Real Life.

Event 15

Noreena Hertz talks to Hugh Muir

The Lonely Century: Coming Together in a World That's Pulling Apart

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

Loneliness is as bad for our health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

Almost half of those who work in offices don’t have a single friend at their job.

Even before a global pandemic introduced us to terms such as social distancing, loneliness was well on its way to becoming the defining condition of the 21st century. Combining a decade of research with first-hand reporting, Noreena Hertz takes us from ‘renting a friend’ in New York to Belgian far-right festivals replete with face-painting and bouncy castles, from elderly women knitting bonnets for their robot caregivers in Japan to isolated remote workers in London during lockdown. Offering bold solutions ranging from compassionate AI to innovative models for urban living, to new ways of reinvigorating our neighbourhoods, The Lonely Century offers a hopeful and empowering vision for how to heal our fractured communities and restore connection in our lives.

Described as ‘one of the world’s most inspiring women’ by Vogue Magazine and ‘one of the world’s leading thinkers’ by the Observer, Noreena Hertz is a renowned thought leader, academic and broadcaster. Her books, The Silent Takeover, I.O.U. and Eyes Wide Open, are published in more than 20 countries.

Hugh Muir is a Senior Assistant Editor at the Guardian. He also writes columns on politics, race, social policy and policing.

Event 16

Bryony Gordon talks to Poorna Bell

Glorious Rock Bottom

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

Bryony Gordon is a respected journalist, author and mental health campaigner. She is also an alcoholic. In Glorious Rock Bottom, she opens up about her toxic 20-year relationship with alcohol and drugs and explains exactly why hitting rock bottom – for her, a traumatic event and the abrupt realisation that she was repeatedly putting herself in danger – saved her life. Known for her honesty, Bryony bravely re-lives the darkest and most terrifying moments of her addiction, taking us on a rollercoaster ride through rehab, AA, painful self-reflection and life-changing friendship to self-acceptance, hope, and a joy and pride in staying sober that her younger self could never have imagined. Bryony’s new book No Such Thing As Normal will be published in January by Headline.

Event 17

Kate Summerscale

Dark tales for a Winter Weekend 2 – The Haunting of Alma Fielding

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

A true story of a 1930s ghost hunt and the woman who confounded the world. Kate Summerscale came across the case of Alma Fielding’s haunting in a rare, out-of-print book by Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter. In search of more information she found his ‘diary’ of the investigation, a minutely detailed document hundreds of pages long, describing Alma’s seances, her haunted furniture, and her unexplained injuries. Over three years of research, she tracked down the descendants of the main characters in the story who surprised her with vital information missing from the archives. It was upon reading the newspapers of the time that Summerscale came to realise that Alma’s poltergeist was one of hundreds of contemporary ghosts.

With Hitler and Mussolini threatening their neighbours in Europe, Britain had become gripped by a darker type of haunting: one of trauma, alienation, loss, and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. The Haunting of Alma Fielding is one such story. Kate Summerscale reads an extract from her Baillie Gifford-nominated book.

Event 18

Benjamin Zephaniah

Wicked World!

Join us online:  Baillie Gifford Digital Stage

This high-profile international author, poet and performer has an enormous breadth of appeal, equally popular with adults and children. Join him as he reads from his latest children's poetry collection Wicked World!

9+ years

Event 19

Stig Abell talks to Claire Armitstead

Things I Learned on the 6.28

Join us online:  Llwyfan Cymru Digidol – Wales Digital Stage

For a whole year on his train to work, Stig Abell read books from across genres and time periods. Then he wrote about them, and their impact on our culture and his own life. The result is a brisk guide to the canon of Western literature, an intimate engagement with writers from Shakespeare to JK Rowling, Marcel Proust to Zora Neale Hurston, a wise and funny celebration of the power of words and a meditation on mental unrest and how to tackle it. It will help you discover new books to love, give you the confidence to give up on those you don't, and remind you of ones you already do. Stig Abell is the breakfast presenter on Times Radio, a station he helped to launch, and a columnist for The Sunday Times. Previously he has been the editor and publisher of the Times Literary Supplement, a presenter on Radio 4's Front Row, and had a weekly radio programme on LBC.