Hay on Wye
Hay Book and Arts Festival celebrated its 25th Anniversary in June and as we were holidaying in Hereford, we decided to pay our first visit to Hay on Wye.
A tented village housed the festival, which was situated only half a mile west of the quaint little town.
The town itself was filled with oodles of bookshops, some so large you could spend days in each of them. Music filled the air (despite the rain) as various bands and singers performed under cover in the centre of town. The smell of barbecued food was enticing, as were the stalls filled with fresh local farm fruits and vegetables.
We walked up and down the quaint little streets browsing gift shops, boutiques and even more bookshops. Cafes served the most delicious home-made dishes with cakes galore!
A short walk up the main road from the town to the festival was an interesting adventure. Locals set up tables in their gardens and sold filled rolls, soft drinks and fresh strawberries to passers-by. For those who didn’t want to walk, transport consisted of a single decker bus, which ran back and forth all day between town and festival, along with two very athletic young men driving bicycle rickshaws!
On entering the tented village you immediately felt the atmosphere. People were handing out leaflets for events, (although it’s always advisable to pre book) and there were creative writing workshops, workshops for children, book stalls, art displays, information tents, all in rows. Food being sold from vans; the usual steak burgers, fish and chips, coffees and ice creams.!
The more famous personalities gave their talks in huge seated marquees. We pre-booked a few weeks beforehand which was just as well as some events were packed out.
Harry Belafonte (for those of you who remember him) was our first port of call. He spoke a bit about his life and his new book. He was very interesting.
Ian Rankin was next – the marquee was packed – and guess what..? Rebus is returning hooray..!
Rob Brydon followed and was so entertaining, we could have listened to him all night.
Our last entertainer was Sinclair McKay, talking about his new book ‘The Secret Life of Bletchley Park’ – utterly captivating.
We could have spent a whole week in Hay on Wye as there were so many interesting people to see, but we also wanted to tour the rest of Herefordshire, which is beautiful.
For anyone interested in visiting the festival I would suggest you book on line around April.
Next stop in August – The Edinburgh Book Festival!