The Hay Festival

Attending the Hay Festival has been on my wish list for a good many years. Each year I promise myself I’ll do something about it “next year”. Then next year arrives, I realise the Festival is already happening and I’ve done absolutely nothing. So … this year I put it on my list of writing goals.

Whilst waiting for the schedule to be published so I could decide when to go, I got a huge surprise – local accommodation is booked up a long, long time in advance. So, a leap was taken and a booking made for a couple of nights in a nearby(ish) foodie pub (the Roast Ox in case you’re interested). Once the schedule was released, I was delighted to discover four writer events I’d be interested in attending – Maggie O’Farrell, Rose Tremain, Salman Rushdie and Ruby Wax (of which more in future posts). Although, in all honesty, there were several options available for booking on the day which I’d have been entirely happy to attend as well.

For those of you who are considering it, the Festival is held on the outskirts of Hay-on-Wye, a small village in the Brecons. Just down the (slightly steep) hill, you’ll discover a large tented structure. Inside there is proper flooring, a mixture of open areas and covered walkways, miniature shops and one large bookshop (of course). Catering facilities are good and the queues moved quickly. For hot & cold drinks, take your own re-fillable cups or pay a small charge for a returnable one on site.  Oh … and the ice cream is quite superb – all the traditional flavours and some you’ll not find elsewhere. Highly recommended!

Accommodation in the village is expensive and probably already booked for next year (and maybe even the year after) but there’s a plentiful array in the surrounding area. Some are on the shuttle bus route, some not. The shuttle bus also runs between the Festival and the village regularly for a minimal daily charge. For those who’ll be driving in each day, there are multiple fields given over to parking, but we found the adjoining field well worth the £7 charge made by Macmillan (you need to book).

Lessons learned were that despite the weather in the rest of the country being decidedly warm, it was a lot cooler in Hay. Do take an extra layer and avoid high heels or other fussy footwear. To be honest, the more sensible amongst you would probably have made this decision anyway, but I get thrown by even the prospect of hot weather in this country and took the wrong footwear! This resulted in my tripping and taking a rather spectacular fall right outside the tent; the benefit of which is I am able to confirm (from personal experience) how superb the on-site paramedics are – kind, caring and they don’t fuss – so also highly recommended – should the unfortunate occur. As an unexpected bonus, my spectacular grazes and hobbling meant I was allowed entrance from the side of the main arena with all the other less able bodied visitors, which was much appreciated.

Hay-2All the events I attended were in the main stage where three screens relayed the event live to the large auditorium – especially useful for those more diminutive in height, or needing of long-distance spectacles.

This visit was so brief that a mooch around the village streets will have to wait till 2019, when I look forward to enjoying the throng of book shops and other lovely browsing diversions.

Having booked for just one day this year, next year is already booked for four days. Yes, it’s that good. Give it a try – but book your accommodation early!


© Debra Carey, 2018

6 comments

  1. It’s also worthwhile going to Hay when the Festival is _not_ on as you get a chance to wander around the multiplicity of bookshops without being hassled. It is possible to pick up some very good bargains there, although some of the shops really try it on! Of course some philistines say the best time to appreciate Hay is when the bokshops are closed. Pfui! – we ignore those!

    I’m glad you enjoyed your time there and you now have the anticipation of next year to bolster your writing in the coming months.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. People suggest going to Hay and not buying books – whatever is the world coming to? I did think it looked like a rather lovely village for browsing and I imagine the camera could get a decent work out in the surrounding scenery. I might suggest Himself & I take a non-Festival visit … now that I know the way that is 😉

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  3. You know when you say a Hay Festival to a woman in the midwest US, that woman takes it literally because that woman goes to Strawberry Festivals and Popcorn Festivals and Apple Cider Festivals and Pumpkin Festivals and Sauerkraut Festivals… I could go on, but I won’t. That being said, I’m glad that you went and had a good time. Sounds rewarding and enriching to attend your Hay Festival.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Popcorn Festivals? You have Popcorn Festivals? Oh I am sooooo jealous. I adore popcorn, but we don’t do it particularly well over here. Oddly enough, I accused Himself of smelling of popcorn the other day which made him look at me most oddly (he spends all day covered in engine oil ‘n the like) and I’ve been craving it ever since 🙂

      I can’t say it particularly encouraged me to get home and write (any more than I want to do normally) but it was so enjoyable to be entirely self-indulgent. I don’t do it enough, so I shall be scheduling in many more such events.

      Liked by 1 person

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