Annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales (devised1988)
Hay Festival crowds reading between sessions
The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, better known as the Hay Festival (Welsh: Gŵyl Y Gelli), is an annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, for ten days from May to June. Devised by Norman, Rhoda and Peter Florence in 1988, the festival was described by Bill Clinton in 2001 as "The Woodstock of the mind".Tony Benn said: "In my mind it's replaced Christmas".
It has become a prominent festival in British culture, and sessions at the festival have been recorded for television and radio programmes such as The Readers' and Writers' Roadshow and The One Show. All the BBC's national radio channels apart from Radio One have been involved in broadcasting from the festival, and Sky Arts showed highlights of the festival from 2010 until 2013, handing over the main coverage to the BBC for the 2014 event.
Sign at the entrance to the 2016 Hay Festival.
The festival was founded in 1988 by Peter Florence and his parents Rhoda and Norman. Hay-on-Wye was already well known for its many bookshops before the festival was launched. Richard Booth opened his first shop there in 1962, and by the 1970s Hay had gained the nickname "The Town of Books". From its inception, the festival was held at a variety of venues around Hay, including the local Primary School, until 2005 when it moved to a unified location just south of the town.
In late July 2021 co-founder and director Peter Florence resigned following an independent investigation that upheld a complaint of bullying against Florence. Florence had been suspended in October 2020. Florence commented "I consider that my role had become untenable due to the conduct of the board and its insistence on holding a disciplinary hearing in my absence whilst I was off sick after a breakdown."
The festival's chair, Caroline Michel stated on 18 October 2020 that the event won't return to Abu Dhabi in support of a curator Caitlin McNamara's allegation of sexual assault against the tolerance minister of UAE, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan. McNamara claimed that she was assaulted by the minister when they met at a remote island villa in February 2019 concerning work. The Emirati Foreign Ministry declined to comment on personal matters. When reached out, Britain's Metropolitan Police confirmed receiving a report of alleged rape on July 3 by a woman. In November 2020, Caitlin McNamara vowed to fight on following the CPS October 2020 decision to not prosecute the UAE minister because the alleged attack had occurred outside its jurisdiction. McNamara said the decision sent a message to Sheikh Nahyan and others who commit similar crimes “that as long as they’re of economic value to the UK, they can do whatever they want”. In an interview with The Sunday Times McNamara said she felt "abandoned" by the Hay Festival,and in an interview on Channel 4 stated that "mistakes" had been made in the way the festival handled her reporting the sexual assault to them which were "very distressing".
Images from the 2016 Hay Festival
Welcome sign just south of Hay-on-Wye
Traffic in the town of Hay during festival
A couple at the castle in Hay during the festival
Workers prep books for signing at the bookstore
Tent at the Hay Festival
Attendees inside the tent
Timothy Garton Ash on stage
Salman Rushdie and others on stage
Storyteller explaining Egyptian exhibit at British Museum
Newspaper rose, given to artists after their presentations
Halls of the festival
Attendees line up to meet authors at book signings
Performer Fleur Alexander leads a session for kids at Hay Days
Writer Caitlin Moran interacting with fans after her talk