Earlybirds released for Hay Festival Winter Weekend

Seven “earlybird” events have today been unveiled for Hay Festival Winter Weekend in Hay-on-Wye, 28 November-1 December 2019, including conversations with Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Labour MP Jess Phillips, historian Tom Holland, BBC broadcaster Cerys Matthews, plus comedy from Jason Byrne and music as organist Father Richard Williams offers live accompaniment to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis and Jurassic 5’s Soup joins us with his Fullee Love Collective.

Conversations cover a range of topics, from the state of UK politics to the meaning of Christmas. Labour MP Jess Phillips will talk about her latest book Truth to Power: 7 Ways to Call Time on B.S.; BBC broadcaster Cerys Matthews will launch her new cookbook, Where the Wild Cooks Go: Recipes, Music, Poetry, Cocktails; historian Tom Holland presents Dominion: How the Christian Revolution Remade the World; and Archbishop of York John Sentamu presents his latest book, Wake Up to Advent!

“Earlybird” events are on sale to Friends of Hay Festival now at hayfestival.org or on 01497 822 629. Tickets go on general release on Friday 20 September. The full Hay Festival Winter Weekend programme will be announced Friday 18 October.

Now in its 20th year, Hay Festival Winter Weekend transforms “the town of books”, Hay-on-Wye, into a festival wonderland of ideas with literary conversation, candle-lit storytelling, comedy, music, and family workshops. Events take place in the charming town centre, with venues including the 500-seater Baillie Gifford Tent in the Cattle Market, The School Hall and St Mary’s Church.

An intimate, fireside version of the Festival’s summer edition, the town’s independent bookshops, cafés and markets welcome festivalgoers within the stunning surrounds of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Added sparkle comes from the iconic Market Square as a special Festival guest turns on the town’s Christmas lights, Friday 29 November, in a now annual weekend highlight, while Hay Winter Food Festival takes place on Saturday and Hay Artisan Market takes over on Sunday.

The Festival will draw on public nominations to crown the Hay Festival Book of the Year 2019, with nominations welcome here. Previous winners of the title have included Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane’s The Lost Words and Sarah Jayne Blakemore’s Inventing Ourselves.

Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival, said: “We all need somewhere to come together, to find common ground and a sense of optimism; to share stories, to unearth truths, and imagine the world. Hay, glistening with winter cheer, offers a welcome like nowhere else. We’ve the world’s best writers, thinkers, musicians, and a fabulous bazaar of local crafts, foods and curiosities. Now all we need is you.”

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.”

The full Hay Festival Winter Weekend programme will be announced Friday 18 October. Speakers over the years have included writers Rose Tremain, Jeanette Winterson, Chibundu Onuzo, Matt Haig and Horatio Clare; campaigners and journalists James O’Brien, Laurie Penny, Luke Harding, Oliver Bullough, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Helena Kennedy and Gina Miller; space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock; comedians Matt Lucas and Shazia Mirza; and broadcasters Monty Don, Kate Humble and 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas.

Following on from the 32nd Hay Festival in Wales (23 May–2 June); Querétaro, Mexico (5–8 September); a special Hay Forum in Dallas TX, USA (6–7 September); Segovia, Spain (19–22 September); and Arequipa, Peru (7–10 November); Hay Festival Winter Weekend is the Festival’s final edition of 2019.

Find out more about Hay Festival Winter Weekend and book tickets here.