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Hay Festival Winter Weekend programme announced

Hay Festival Winter Weekend general. Credit: Marsha Arnold

Hay Festival Winter Weekend returns with an ambitious programme for its first ticketed, in-person events in the UK for two years, bringing writers and readers together 24-28 November with a programme to inspire, examine and entertain.

Over five days, more than 80 acclaimed writers and performers will take part, launching the best new fiction and non-fiction, interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time, and spreading joy with conversations, candle-lit storytelling, comedy, music, and family workshops.

In-person events take place in a new Festival site in the centre of Hay-on-Wye against the stunning backdrop of the Brecon Beacons. Comprised of the Wales Stage – Llwyfan Cymru located on the Cae Mawr field (at the base of the town’s Oxford Road Car Park) and the Baillie Gifford stage in the neighbouring Hay Primary School, the new site also includes the Festival bookshop, hosting regular in-person signings, along with a food and drink court and exhibitors.

Events will also take place around the town more widely, in the Parish Hall, St Mary’s Church and the Cheese Market, while the booktown’s independent shops, cafés and markets open their doors with a warm welcome to Festivalgoers.

A vibrant online programme of live streamed sessions and digital exclusives will amplify the in-person events further, embracing the Festival’s new global audience with closed captioning offered for all digital events.

Hay Festival international director Cristina Fuentes la Roche said: “We’re back for our first in-person events in the UK in two years with Hay Festival Winter Weekend 2021, a Festival of inspiration and optimism to entertain curious minds of all ages. With an ambitious programme filling an innovative new site, it marks both a return to celebrate and a fresh start. Join us in a safe space to imagine the world anew and share the closing days of 2021with music, laughter and friends.”

Novelist Jeanette Winterson said: “It’s the time of year we need some internal sunshine and that’s what this is. It’s a place where there’s light and there’s warmth and a lot of fun.”

Hay Festival Winter Weekend is supported by the Festival’s lead sponsors Visit Wales and Baillie Gifford. The free Programme for Schools and Beacons Project are funded by the Welsh Government and Hay Festival Foundation.

Dawn Bowden MS, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, said: “It’s such excellent news that we end the year with a return to in person events – while also delivering the online sessions. Hay Festival’s global programme is unlike any other in the way that it focuses on some of the biggest topics affecting the world today. While it showcases Welsh talent to the world, the new hybrid format has also afforded more contributions from the best international talent than ever before.

“I’m delighted that our sponsorship of The Wales Stage / Llwyfan Digidol Cymru has hosted hundreds of events over the last 2 years. Although we haven’t been able to welcome international visitors to Wales to enjoy Hay Festival itself – we have succeeded in showcasing Wales to international audiences.”

The full line-up is available now at hayfestival.org/winter-weekend with priority booking for Friends of Hay Festival until tickets go on general sale at noon this Saturday 2 October.