The Beacons Project

This is a free workshop residency during Hay Festival for 16-18-year-olds interested in creative writing and the communication of ideas.

The Beacons Project aims to encourage creativity and forge a sense of creative identity amongst young people in Wales. It offers a unique opportunity for Welsh students to work with exceptional writers and journalists in a highly creative and stimulating environment during Hay Festival. We offer two four-day residencies with 10 students in each group.

Twenty students aged 16-18 from across Wales will be invited to the Festival to meet and work with professional writers, broadcasters and journalists to develop their writing skills. There will be workshops, discussions and events exploring the strong links between environment and landscape, art and literature.

The Beacons Project is supported by Welsh Government. Accommodation (, food and all activities are free. We can also offer a £30 bursary to cover travel to and from Hay-on-Wye. Students will be supported by a mentor throughout the project and will spend four days and three nights attending events, participating in workshops, writing blogs and reviews and immersing themselves in everything that Hay Festival has to offer.

Many of our former participants have gone on to careers in creative writing, publishing and the media, including the award- winning poet and playwright Owen Sheers.

“The Beacons Project was crucial for me. It not only provided me with the aspiration to be a writer but also put me in contact with a range of authors and literature that I'd have been hard pushed to find anywhere else. The Beacons Project is a must if Wales is at all serious about fostering young talent in the arts.”  Owen Sheers

Have a look at our short film from last year:

Here are events and activities you can look forward to:

Group One: Monday 28 May–Thursday 31 May

  • See and engage with writers such as Michael Morpurgo, Margaret Atwood, Juno Dawson and Anthony Anaxagorou.
  • Attend Les Amazones D’Afrique and Sam Lee gigs and see comedy shows starring Dara O’Briain and Rachel Parris.

Group Two: Thursday 31 May–Sunday 3 June

  • See and engage with writers such as Philip Pullman, Lionel Shriver, Fergal Keane and Steven Camden.
  • Attend Imelda May and Show of Hands gigs and see comedy shows starring Bridget Christie and Phil Jupitus.

A full programme of events and activities will be sent out to successful candidates on 27 April.

The project will give students the following opportunities:

  • First-hand experience of a world-class Festival
  • Contact with professional writers through Festival events and workshops
  • Reflect on their own writing, which will also be critically evaluated by peers and published authors
  • Meet with top journalists to learn about reporting at the Festival
  • Create links with young writers and the wider world of literature and the arts
  • Write a blog on the Hay Festival website recording their experiences and achievements
  • Explore careers in writing and journalism

How to apply

  • Applicants must currently be in years 12 or 13 in a school, FE college or sixth form in Wales with a demonstrable interest in either creative or documentary writing
  • Applicants must submit a piece of writing (300-500 words). This does not need to be a new piece of work
  • Provide a letter of recommendation from your teacher
  • Fill out the attached application form

The deadline for applications is Wednesday 25 April. Please submit your piece of writing along with a teacher’s letter of recommendation and application form by email or post to Aine Venables, Hay Festival, The Drill Hall, 25 Lion Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5AD

What next?

A panel of judges will review all applications and select 20 students on the creative potential of their written submissions and their teachers’ recommendations. Weighting will be given to Schools Challenge Cymru and LACE applicants. We will respond to your applications by Friday 27 April with a full programme of events and activities.

For further information or queries please contact Education Manager, Aine Venables Tel: 01497 822 620

Funded by Welsh Government
Students on the Hay Festival site
Beacons Project students working together