Hay Festival has today announced the full line-up of writers, thinkers and performers appearing at the larger-than-ever Hay Festival Winter Weekend in Hay-on-Wye, 23-26 November 2017. Prize-winning novelists and poets, global policy makers, industry leadersand guardians of the natural worldshare the stage with stars of theatre, TV and film, sports leaders, children’s heroes, acclaimed musicians and much-loved comedians in over 70 events across four days.

The festival has also issued a public call to nominate the Hay Festival Book of the Year 2017 – the one book readers couldn’t put down, haven’t stopped thinking about, or couldn’t wait to recommend to friends. Readers who submit choices online will be entered into a special prize draw.

Clemency Burton-Hill at the Hay Festival 2017

Hay Festival Winter Weekend is now in its 18th year, blending literary conversation, immersive performances and interactive workshops, with the best of the town’s seasonal shopping and a chance to explore the famed natural surroundings in all their autumnal splendour.

A new venue will double the festival’s seated capacity, while events begin a day earlier than in previous years, with programmed talks and performances from Thursday 23 November.

“Come and join us in Hay for fireside storytelling and feasting. The town is decked in Christmas lights and glistening with winter cheer for a celebration of scrumptious food, glorious vintage clothing and high times. Bring a story, bring a new idea, bring a friend. Everyone is welcome,” says Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival

The project has been part-funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation Fund, which aims to encourage partnership-working and innovative ideas that will have a greater impact and attract more visitors.

Programme highlights…
Natural wonders are celebrated as Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris present their collaboration, The Lost Words; Horatio Clare talks Icebreaker: A Journey Far North; Patrick Barkham discusses Islander: A Journey Around Our Archipelago; Leif Bersweden presents The Orchid Hunter: A young botanist’s search for happiness; writer and broadcaster Robert Penn spotlights the wonders of our woodlands with his new book Woods: A Celebration; while the country’s favourite gardener Monty Don talks Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom.

Global issues are tackled as investigative journalist Oliver Bullough, Nigerian novelist Chibundu Onuzo and anti-corruption barrister Eva Anderson discuss global corruption; while this year’s Hay Festival 30 Reformations series draws to a close with a trio of talks posing reforms to contemporary orthodoxies: Helena Kennedy talks equality; Owen Sheers reforms men; and Marie-Elsa Bragg takes on Christmas.

Stars of stage, screen and the airwaves offer a glimpse behind the scenes: actors Jacob Ifan and Catrin Stewart join screenwriter Roger Williams to talk to Guto Harri about their acclaimed Port Talbot-based crime drama for the BBC, Bang; while broadcaster Jeremy Vine talks What I learnt, part autobiography and part recollection of listeners’ wisdom.

Prize-winning novelists present their latest works: Jeanette Winterson talks Ghost Night; Matt Haig discusses his besteller How to Stop Time; Owen King, son of Stephen King, talks about the new novel co-written with his father, Sleeping Beauties; and Nikesh Shukla talks about his new project to showcase the very best new work from writers and artists of colour, The Good Journal.

Poetry takes centre stage as former National Poet of Wales and Hay Festival Medal for Poetry winner, Gillian Clarke, presents her new collection Zoology, while her 80th birthday is marked by a group of emerging Welsh poets, including Zillah Bowes, Rosey Brown, Imtiaz Dharker, Menna Elfyn, Joao Morais, Pascale Petit and Clare Potter. Forward Arts Foundation founder William Sieghart opens up The Poetry Pharmacy; Welsh poet-playwright Menna Elfyn reads from her new collection Bondo; and Pascale Petit presents Mama Amazoniza.

History is reimagined as medical historian Lindsey Fitzharris presents her study of Joseph Lister and a turning point in medicine, The Butchery Art; historian Peter Lord discusses the first account of of Welsh art for 50 years, The Tradition: A New History of Welsh Art; John Connolly presents his retelling of the life of Stan Laurel, He; and Simon Jenkins nominates Britain’s 100 Best Railway Stations; while Professor of English John Mullan discusses the work of Jane Austen.

A walk through the beautiful Welsh countryside

Industry leaders from around the world converge to share their learnings: CEO of tech firm Unruly, Sarah Wood, presents her guide to leadership Stepping Up; co-founder of the Eden Project, Tim Smit, presents his autobiography Beyond Eden; and former RFU director Rob Andrew talks Rugby: The Game of my Life. Chef Anna Jones talks about her new cookbook The Modern Cook’s Year, while best-selling writer Isabel Losada explores sexuality with Sensation.

Hay-on-Wye comes to life with music throughout the weekend: Mid Wales Opera presents the hilarious one-act comedy classic The Bear; there are performances from Siobhan Wilson Trio, Smerins Anti-Social Club and Hay Community Choir; Daniel Martyn Lewis plays Bach; Joanna Macgregor interprets Chopin’s Mazurkas; while GQ editor Dylan Jones presents his new biography David Bowie: A Life and broadcaster Clemency Burton Hill talks A Year of Wonder, her daily guide to classical music.

Comedians offer more late-night entertainment: comic classicist Natalie Haynes talks about her much loved BBC Radio 4 series Natalie Haynes Stands Up for the Classics; Shazia Mirza brings her award-winning stand-up show With Love from St Tropez; and actor, writer and comedian Matt Lucas presents his autobiography Little Me: My Life from A-Z.

HAYDAYS events offer fun for all the family as leading writers for children present their latest books: Ed Vere talks Banana! and Bedtime for Monsters; Adam Frost showcases The Awesome Book of Animals; and Catherine Barr presents Discover 10 Reasons to Love a Turtle; while James Campbell delivers his stand-up show for children.

Hay Festival Schools Visits see leading writers for young people drop in for events at local primary and secondary schools, including James Campbell, Nicola Davies, Joe Coelho and Barney Norris.

Hay Festival International Fellow, Jenny Valentine, presents the latest part of her global exploration of adolescence in an event alongside Harriet Stewart, Jonathan Godfrey and The Beacons Project students.

Free drop-in workshops for young people take inspiration from the festival’s #HAYTREES project, with tree-to-type printmaking and outdoor cookery for children with Forest Schools. The Parish Hall is transformed into a workshop of wonders with interactive sessions from festive crafts to hula hooping with Elle Edwards from No Fit State Circus; Charles McCarthy presents Drawing Without Lines; and Barney Norris and Pervasive Media merge creativity with the latest tech in their creative writing and ambient literature workshop.

Meanwhile, outside of the festival venues, the town’s atmospheric market square will be a focus of festivities:

  • On Friday 24 November, the Hay Christmas lights will be turned on, transforming the town into a winter wonderland brimming with festive cheer, accompanied by carol singing, readings and evening entertainment.
  • On Saturday 25 November, the Hay Food Festival celebrates all that’s good about winter cooking, with over 50 stalls showcasing the very best of local produce, from savoury to sweet.
  • On Sunday 26 November, Hay Does Vintage transforms the square into a festive outdoor fleamarket with over 50 vintage and retro traders offering a diverse collection of items from clothes, textiles and jewellery, to furniture, collectables and kitchenalia.


Tickets are on sale to Friends of Hay Festival now and go on general release this Thursday 19 October – book online at hayfestival.org or call 01497 822 629.