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The Hay Festival goes digital with launch of new event

Hay Festival

The first-ever digital-only Hay Festival will bring writers and readers together 18-31 May 2020 in free live broadcasts and interactive Q&As.

Hay Festival Digital will see more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators take part, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time, from Covid-19 and world health, to the climate crisis and our future, under the theme of #ImagineTheWorld.

What would have been the Hay Festival Programme for Schools will also take place online, kicking things off with five days of storytelling and live performances for KS 2, 3 and 4 pupils learning at home, 18-22 May. Digital activities to inspire and entertain families will also run throughout the Festival.
The full programme will be released 1 May at hayfestival.org. Festivalgoers can register their interest to take part at hayfestival.org/join-us.

Hay Festival Digital is supported by principal sponsor Baillie Gifford, while the Programme for Schools is sponsored by the Welsh Government.

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said:

“Our Haymakers and partners have given us this fresh opportunity to celebrate the stories and ideas that we love. We’ll be zinging the programme as if from a green field in Wales and welcoming readers from around the world into a digital party. So, let us, ciphers to this great accompt, on your imaginary forces work…

The new Festival is part of a global series of digital initiatives under the #ImagineTheWorld banner to connect, inspire and entertain book lovers and home educators throughout the year.

These include a newly launched Hay Festival Podcast, a monthly book club, and release of the free Programme for Schools archive, while Hay Player continues to offer full digital access to the full Hay Festival archive of video and audio.The digital Festival follows the cancellation of this year’s event in Hay-on-Wye due to the Coronavirus/Covid-19 outbreak, which was followed by the launch of an ongoing fundraising campaign to secure the Festival’s future at hayfestival.org/wales/support-us.

Hay Festival is the world’s leading festival of ideas, bringing readers and writers together to share stories and ideas in sustainable events. It generates around £25m for the local economy each year, in one of the lowest income parts of the UK, while outreach work from the free Programme for Schools, the Scribblers Tour and Beacons Project, to Hay Academy and Hay Compass, inspires tens of thousands of young people.

Hay Festival Winter Weekend is scheduled to take place in Hay-on-Wye later this year, 27-29 November, while Hay Festival 2021 will take place 27 May-6 June.