The Hay Festival in Hay-on-Wye opens this Thursday, the 24th of May, and runs through the 3rd of June. It draws 80,000 book lovers.
Director Peter Florence describes the 20th festival and the idea behind it,
"In August 1987, a bunch of us got together around my mother’s kitchen table. My father had the idea of inviting friends and some people he really admired up for the weekend to talk, play and hang out. Flo’s plan was that the gathering should be informal, international and great fun. He figured that we had two amazing advantages in trying to get this off the ground – the staggering beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park where we live, and the people of Hay, whose generosity and imagination make this town so exciting. Twenty festivals on it’s pretty much worked out how he envisioned it.
We’re graced with four Nobel Laureates this year: Wole Soyinka, Orhan Pamuk, Derek Walcott and Wangari Maathai. They embody the issues of freedom of speech and courage that inform much of the programme, just as David Attenborough and George Monbiot headline our concerns with the environment and the natural world, Bryn Terfel and Baaba Maal entrance us with their music, and Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers refresh our sense of taste. All the writers, comedians and musicians appearing this year have the capacity to change our lives, to share new visions of the world, and to do that incredibly sexy thing – to renew our sense of wonder.
The thing we didn’t know about in 1987 was the thing that makes this festival special, which is this: the Hay audience. It’s made up of some of the most interesting, intellectually adventurous, socially attractive people on earth. And in the immortal words of Frank Gallagher – ‘they all know how to throw a party’".
See the Hay Festival for more information and for audio and video downloads.