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Hay Festival 2023 Wales, UK

May 25 - June 4

Hay Festival

The Hay Festival in Wales is the leading book festival in the UK. Held in the beautiful Welsh town of Haye-on-Wye towards the end of May, the 2023 Hay Festival of literature will feature more than 600 writers and thinkers in conversations and debates.

Hay Festival: A Celebration of Literature, Culture, and More

If you’re a book lover looking for a unique and inspiring event, the Hay Festival is a must-visit destination. Known as the world’s largest second-hand book fair, this annual festival attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world.

Located in the charming town of Hay on Wye, Wales, the festival is a celebration of literature, culture, and more. Founded in 1988 by Richard Booth, a local bookseller, the festival has become a beloved tradition for locals and visitors alike. Since then it has travelled to some 30 locations from Colombia to Peru, the US, Mexico and Spain. The festivals reach millions of people each year both through in person events, online and via its social media channels.

During the festival, the town transforms into a lively hub of literary activity, with events taking place across multiple venues. You can attend talks, workshops, book signings, and more, all hosted by renowned authors, poets, and thinkers. And if you’re a foodie, you won’t be disappointed – the festival also features a fantastic selection of food stalls and vendors, offering everything from local Welsh delicacies to international cuisine.

So, whether you’re a seasoned book collector or simply looking for a fun and engaging cultural experience, the Hay on Wye Book Festival is definitely worth a visit. Let’s dive into the details and find out what makes this festival so special.

Hay Festival Programme

Alexander McCall Smith
Alexander McCall Smith is confirmed to appear at the 2023 Festival

The 2023 programme will include Margaret AtwoodAlexander McCall Smith; Eleanor CattonFflur Dafydd; and Caleb Azumah Nelson.

Grammy award-winning singer Dua Lipa will present a live recording of her podcast, At Your Service. Other events will feature Marina Hyde; Simon Schama; Isabella Tree; A C Grayling and Jon Snow. 

Hay is not just about literature. The Proclaimers will perform on the main stage, while poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Sir Michael Parkinson will also attend.

There will be a serie of debates on the future of Europe with Misha Glenny, Ece Temelkuran and Zsuzsanna Szelényi. 

Some of the festival sessions will be streamed live online with digital passes on sale in May. The full programme can be found here.

Not all the events are literary as you can also explore the beautiful countryside during your stay.


Children’s entertainment will feature Jordan Stephens, Beth Suzanna, Connor Allen, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Julia Donaldson and Greg Jenner.

Hay Medals

Winners of the 2023 Festival Medals will be announced on stage. Previous winners include John le Carré, Margaret Atwood, Ali Smith, Ahdaf Soueif  and George Monbiot.

Fflur Dafydd - Credit Celf Calon
Fflur Dafydd, credit Celf Calon

Tips for Making the Most of Your Hay on Wye Book Festival Experience

To ensure you have the best possible time at the Hay on Wye Book Festival, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Plan Ahead: With so many events and activities taking place, it’s important to plan your itinerary in advance. Check the festival programme online and choose the events you’re most interested in attending. Make sure to book tickets early to avoid disappointment.
  2. Dress Comfortably: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers, as the weather can be unpredictable. Don’t forget to bring a backpack or tote bag to carry your books and any other purchases.
  3. Explore Beyond the Festival: While the festival itself is fantastic, don’t forget to explore the charming town of Hay on Wye and its surrounding areas. Take a walk along the River Wye, visit a local pub or café, or head out for a hike in the stunning Brecon Beacons National Park.
  4. Be Open-Minded: The festival is a great opportunity to discover new authors, genres and perspectives. Keep an open mind and attend events that challenge and inspire you.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your Hay on Wye Book Festival experience and create lasting memories.

Where to Stay During the Hay on Wye Book Festival

Hay Festival

Hay on Wye is a small town, but it has a variety of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. B&Bs and Guesthouses: There are several charming bed and breakfasts and guesthouses in Hay on Wye that offer comfortable and affordable accommodation. Some popular options include The Pavement Palace and The Old Black Lion.
  2. Hotels: If you prefer a bit more luxury, there are a few hotels in the area, including The Swan at Hay and The Globe at Hay.
  3. Self-Catering Accommodation: If you prefer to have your own space, there are several self-catering options in Hay on Wye, such as holiday cottages and apartments.

Hay Festival Camping

A range of camping options from a Fred’s Yurts to Tangering Fields and Hay Glamping, can be booked here.

Accommodation for the festval tends to fill up quickly, you can find the festival accommodation recommendations here. Or alternatively use the official accommodation service and booking agent for the festival.

Other Hay Festivals

Hay organises other festivals in Jericho, Medellin and Cartagena in Colombia in January; Querétaro in Mexico  and Segovia Spain in September, as well as Arequipa, Peru in November.

Hay Festival, Catragena, credit Daniel Mordzinski
Hay Cartagena, credit Daniel Mordzinski

Hay Festival Dates

Thursday 25 May to Sunday 4 June, 2023.

Hay Festival Parking

There is a car park at Hay close to the festival, costing £8 per day for Macmillan. Alternatively, the park & ride car park costs £5 and is located at Clyro Court (Baskerville Hall Hotel) HR3 5LE.

Hay Festival Tickets

You can book tickets for the festival here.

Things To Do in the Area

One of the great aspects of attending the festival is its wonderful location. The Wye Valley is a lovely part of the country, and the nearby Brecon Beacons are spectacular. For further inspiration follow Mark Bibby Jackson as he walks along the Herefordshire trail to Ross-on-Wye just across the border in England. Alternatively yo can discover the Beacons and continue down toards the Pembrokeshire coastline.

Wayfaring walk with Patrick Barkham, Isabel Hardman, Rob Pickford - credit Ruby Ingleheart 2
Wayfaring walk with Patrick Barkham, Isabel Hardman, Rob Pickford – credit Ruby Ingleheart

What is Hay Festival?

For more information on the leading UK literature festival, click here.

Main image: Day 4 at Hay Festival 2022, credit Adam Tatton Reid. All images kindly supplied by the organisers.


May 25
June 4
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Hay Festival
HAY-ON-WYE,WalesHR3 5PJUnited Kingdom
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