Hay Festival 2015 – discover the surroundings


Thursday 21 to Sunday 31 May brings writers and readers together once again to share stories and ideas that inspire, examine and entertain. Now in its 28th year, the 2015 Hay Festival programme spans 11 days with over 700 events, blending expert thinkers, world class writers, and award winning entertainers from the stage and screen.

Main stage highlights include: Neil Gaiman paying tribute to the late Sir Terry Pratchett; a series of events exploring the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta; Mary Portas on the decline of the British high street; Alex Salmond reflecting on Scottish independence; Archbishop of Westminster Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor on the Church’s response to sexual abuse; a celebration of the 150th anniversary of ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’; Jude Law leads an all-star line-up for Letters Live; Alan Bennett previews The Lady in the Van film; and talks from Jacqueline Wilson, Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Morpurgo, Antony Beevor, Karen Armstrong, Germaine Greer, David Mitchell, Graham Swift, Irvine Welsh, Rose Tremain, Elif Shafak, Alexander McCall Smith, Anne Enright, Colm Toibin, Marian Keyes, Marco Pierre White, Marion Coutts and festival President Stephen Fry.

Meanwhile, beyond the main stages are a whole host of activities for all ages to discover and enjoy, from the best local food and drink, creative workshops and artists exhibitions, to a blockbuster programme of free BBC events and the opportunity to explore the stunning surroundings of the local countryside.

Free BBC events

BBC One, BBC Two and BBC Four will have screenings and Q&As, whilst BBC Radio 2, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 and BBC Wales will all broadcast live from Hay with BBC News and BBC Radio 4 also reporting on events across the week in their bulletins. There will be appearances and performances from well-known presenters and guests including authors Germaine Greer, Stephen Fry, Irvine Welsh, Malorie Blackman, Anne Enright, Kazuo Ishiguro, Yuval Harari, Jacqueline Wilson, violinist Rachel Podger, pianists Ivana Gavrić and Tom Poster; cellist Guy Johnstone; and the Elias String Quartet. All BBC events are ticketed, but free to attend.

BBC Horizons Airstream

A scheme delivered by BBC Cymru Wales in partnership with Arts Council Wales to develop new, independent contemporary music in Wales; the BBC Horizons Airstream offers live acoustic performances throughout the day from exciting musicians from across Wales.

Hay Festival Bookshop

This year, the bookshop will be bigger than ever before, stocking all books by authors attending the festival, and holding book signings after every event. Open from 9am daily.

Hay Fever Courtyard

An area on site for the whole family, the Hay Fever courtyard it is home to The Starlight Stage and The Elmley Foundation Cube workshop space, as well as a variety of pop-up extras. The Make and Take Tent offers free crafting between 10am and 5pm every day, while Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a global leader in IT services, will be on hand to teach the basics of code to young tech fans. Meanwhile, the Lovereading4kids Book Zone has special shelves to inspire a love of reading, including books for reluctant readers, dyslexia-friendly books, great books for boys, classics, picture books and contemporary novels by age range and interest age.

On site exhibitions

Art installations and exhibitions are on display around the site, including ‘Pushing the Envelope’, a specially commissioned exhibition of decorated envelopes curated by staff and students of the Illustration BA course at Hereford College of Arts, designed to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the introduction of the first ever postage stamp.

Food and drink

Hay supports local producers of quality food, including Slate of Cheese, selling specially selected Welsh Cheeses and tapas, and the Welsh Venison Centre, offering venison burgers, chilli and meatballs produced by a local Hay farming family. Chosen as one of Condé Naste Traveller’s World’s Best Local Ice-Cream Shops’, Shepherds promise irresistible ice creams and sublime sundaes, with a unique recipe based on sheep’s milk.. Favourites from previous years will be returning again this year, with Buon Gusto Pizza, Graze and Relish Festival Restaurant. A great choice of ales and ciders can be bought from Dylan Thomas Boathouse bar, whilst the Bloody Oyster Bus is renowned for its signature cocktails.


This year, Hay Festival-goers will be able to browse the stands of over twenty exhibiting brands, including homeware stalls Mark Stephens Furniture, Aga and The Bowie Gallery and textiles and clothing brands including H&M, Hay does Vintage, Cambrian Mountains Wool and Great English Outdoors & Still Ethical. Charities, RSPB Cymru, Oxfam and the Woodland Trust are appearing, as well as NFU Mutual’s Drawing Studio, there to encourage festival-goers of all ages to pick up a pencil and get creative.  Also joining are publications, The Telegraph, Prospect Magazine and First News alongside intuitions handing out information; Cardiff Metropolitan University and Christ College in Brecon.


Renowned for being uniquely rich in culture, #HayTown itself has a lot to offer during this year’s festival. ‘Fair on the Square’ is bringing entertainment to the Hay Market Square from 23rd-25th May, with a programme of live music, showcasing local talent, along with a vintage market, food stalls and colourful fresh flowers. African Market day takes place on the 24th May to promote Hay’s links with Sub-Saharan Africa, with stalls selling cloth, coffee and homemade gifts and a drum workshop, meanwhile film fans will delight at Richard Booth’s Bookshop Cinema, with special screenings throughout the week.

… and beyond…

Set against the stunning backdrop of the Black Mountains, Hay-On-Wye makes for a perfect starting point for a range of tours and trails through the scenic countryside. Or take things at a gentler pace with a picnic on the banks of the River Wye.

The full festival programme is available to view at hayfestival.org. For tickets, call the box office on 01497 822629 or email boxoffice@hayfestival.org. For full listings of BBC content at Hay festival visit www.bbc.co.uk/arts

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