Hay Festival Winter Weekend programme out now

Roll up, roll up, and deck the halls! Today we've announced the full line-up of writers, thinkers and entertainers appearing at Hay Festival Winter Weekend in Hay-on-Wye, 22-25 November 2018, alongside a rich strand of workshops, woodland walks, and town festivities.

Blending politics and global affairs with the finest fiction, nature writing, comedy, music and workshops for all ages, the festival offers four days of family fun within the stunning surrounds of the town’s independent bookshops, cafés and markets, and the Brecon Beacons National Park.

Tickets are on sale to Friends of Hay Festival now here or on 01497 822 629, and go on general sale 8am this Saturday (13 October).

Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival, said: “Hay offers a festive welcome like nowhere else. We’ll be throwing our arms open to writers and readers from around the world to experience Hay as never before. The town is decked in Christmas lights and glistening with winter cheer. We’ve great writers, inspiring thinkers, moving musicians, and a thrilling bazaar of local crafts, foods and curiosities. Join us.”

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.”

Now in its 19th year, this year’s programme is the most ambitious yet, blending literary conversation, immersive performances and family workshops. Building on the success of last year’s record-breaking edition, this year’s festival incorporates a new 500-seater marquee in the Cattle Market and a pop-up bookshop space, while using The School Hall and St Mary’s Church for additional events.

Programme overview:

Real-life stories of entrepreneurism and justice against the odds inspire: Ziauddin Yousafzai, father of the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala, talks Let Her Fly: A Father’s Journey and the Fight for Equality; campaigner Gina Miller presents Rise!; and 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas offers her thoughts on improving workplaces, Work Like a Woman.

Nature and the outdoors are explored as Isabella Tree talks Wilding: The Return of Nature to a British Farm; Horatio Clare offers his extraordinary travelogue Something of his Art: Walking to Lübeck with J.S. Bach; and broadcaster Kate Humble presents her reflections on a year spent walking, Thinking on my Feet. And, following last autumn’s planting of the first plot of Hay Festival’s 30th Anniversary Wood, the Woodland Trust returns with a series of Tree ID walks and woodland explorations, ahead of further public plantings in 2019.

World affairs are drawn into focus: BBC Newsnight’s diplomatic editor Mark Urban discusses the explosive story of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in The Skripal Files; investigative reporter Oliver Bullough presents his study of the lawless, stateless super-rich, Moneyland; broadcaster James O’Brien presents his new guide on talking to people with different opinions, How to Be Right; and a special What do we do now? session sees a festival panel discuss Brexit and the American Mid-Term elections over strong coffee.

History is revisited as Hennessy Award-winning historian Helen Parr talks to Lieutenant General Sir Cedric Delves about his memoir Across an Angry Sea, The SAS in The Falklands War and her new book Our Boys: The Story of a Paratrooper; Andrew Roberts presents Churchill: Walking With Destiny; bestselling writer Tracy Borman talks Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him; former National Librarian of Wales Andrew Green presents Wales in 100 Objects; and Simon Jenkins delivers his Short History of Europe, From Pericles to Putin.

Great fiction is celebrated as award-winning writer Rose Tremain revisits her 2008 novel The Road Home; while Jeanette Winterson offers an evening of candlelit storytelling from her Christmas Stories collection of evocative festive shorts.

Cosmic adventures are led by lunar expert and space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who takes audiences to the moon and back with The Sky at Night: Book of the Moon, while workshops for young people include the Mechanics of Drawing at The Table, Indian Cookery and Bollywood dance classes.

Comedy, music and performances kick the evenings off in style. There’s Friday night comedy from Marcus Brigstocke, whose new Devil May Care show aims to establish, for once and for all, what is good and what is bad about the world today; Saturday night entertainment from writer, poet and musician Gwyenth Glyn, who performs from her new album, Tro, in Welsh and English.

St Mary’s Church hosts Mid-Wales Opera’s L'heure Espagnole by Ravel; organist, composer and vicar of St Mary’s Church Father Richard Williams performs his live accompaniment to the silent Dracula movie Nosferatu using the church’s Bevington Organ; and the festival closes with a now traditional Sunday evening choir concert, from Fiona Evans and choir.

Meanwhile, the town’s iconic market square remains a focus of festivities with the Hay Christmas lights switch-on event on Friday 23 November; Hay Food Festival on Saturday 24 November; and Hay Does Vintage fair on Sunday 25 November.

The festival has also issued a public call to nominate the Hay Festival Book of the Year 2018 – the one book readers couldn’t put down, haven’t stopped thinking about, or couldn’t wait to recommend to friends, won in 2017 by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane for The Lost Words. The winner will be revealed at the event.

Following on from the 31st Hay Festival in Wales (24 May-3 June); Querétaro, Mexico (6-9 September); a special offshoot event in Dallas TX, USA (8 September); Segovia, Spain (20-23 September); and Arequipa, Peru (8-11 November); Hay Festival Winter Weekend is the festival’s final edition of 2018.

Explore the full Winter Weekend programme here.