Cerys Matthews to switch on Hay Christmas Lights

BBC broadcaster Cerys Matthews will switch on Hay-on-Wye’s Christmas lights next month as part of her Hay Festival Winter Weekend appearance on Friday 29 November.

The free switch-on event will take place between 5pm and 7pm in The Cheese Market, accompanied by carol singing and readings to kick off the Festival weekend in good spirits.

Families are invited to create their own colourful Christmas lanterns in Hay Public Library from 3.30pm, before joining the Hay Festival Winter Weekend procession at 5.30pm to the Market Square.

Matthews is a Welsh singer, songwriter, BBC broadcaster and founder of The Good Life Experience. A founding member of Welsh rock band Catatonia, she is the author of the Sunday Timesbestseller Hook Lineand Singerand children's books Tales from the Deepand Gelert. She is vice-president for both Shelter and the Hay Festival, and recipient of a St David Award for Culture and an MBE. 

Her new book, Where the Wild Cooks Go, invites readers to cook their way around the world, with a Spotify playlist ready for each country, as well as poems, proverbs, curiosities and some very surprising aspects of world history. Matthews will be talking about the book immediately following the lights switch-on at 7pm on the Baillie Gifford Stage. 

Cerys Matthews said: “To turn on the festive lights in the already enlightened and beautiful Hay is more than a dream come true.”

Josh Boyd Green, chair of Hay Chamber of Commerce, said: “We are thrilled to have Cerys Matthews joining us for this year’s Christmas lights switch-on. The festive season in Hay is a magical time, which gets underway in style and with great cheer at the Hay Festival Winter Weekend and the switch-on event. The spirit of our community really shines through in this evening of music, mulled wine, mince pies and the wonderful selection of local businesses selling all manner of seasonal treats. We can’t wait to welcome Cerys to this celebration and to Hay.”

Now in its 20th year, Hay Festival Winter Weekend transforms 'the town of books', Hay-on-Wye, into a festive wonderland of ideas with literary conversation, candle-lit storytelling, comedy, music, and family workshops.Events take place 28 November-1 December in the charming town centre, with venues including the 500-seater Baillie Gifford Stage in the Cattle Market, Hay Public Library, Hay Primary School and St Mary’s Church.

This years's programme includes appearances by Booker Prize 2019 winner Bernardine Evaristo; artist Jackie Morris; poets Mererid Hopwood and Owen Sheers; BBC broadcasters Emma Barnett and Cerys Matthews; Extinction Rebellion’s Rupert Read; the Science Museum’s Tilly Blyth; Labour MP Jess Phillips; historians Tom Holland, Sarah Churchwell, Max Hastings, Thomas Waters and Mike Pitts; writer Laura Cumming; cameraman Lindsay McCrae journalist Afua Hirsch; and illustrator Henny Beaumont. Plus, there’s late night music, comedy and cabaret from Chainska Brassika, Fr Richard Williams, Fiona Evans and the Hay Festival Choir, Jason Byrne, Russell Kane, Sarah-Louise Young, Mid Wales Opera, a surprise all-star Shakespeare performance; and a special tribute to the late ‘King of Hay’, Richard Booth.

Explore the full programme for Hay Festival Winter Weekend and book tickets here.