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.

young people writing

“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

The Beacons Project aims to encourage creativity and forge a sense of national identity amongst young people in Wales. It offers unique opportunities for Welsh students to work with exceptional writers and journalists in a highly creative and stimulating environment during the Hay Festival.

Twenty A-level students from across Wales will be invited to the festival to meet and work with professional writers, broadcasters and journalists and develop their creative writing skills. Workshops, discussions and events will explore the strong link between landscape and environment, art and literature.

All students attending secondary schools and sixth form colleges in Wales are invited to apply. We offer two four-day residencies with ten students in each group.

The Beacons Project is supported by the Welsh Government and we are able to offer accommodation (, food and all activities free of charge. We are also able to 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 all that Hay Festival has to offer.

Proposed events and activities include:

Group One: Monday 29 May – Thursday 1 June

  • See and engage with writers such as Meg Rosoff, Phillip Reeve, Tracey Chevalier, Stephen Fry and Neil Gaiman, Ifor ap Glyn, and our own Beacons Project Alumni, Owen Sheers.
  • Go to gigs with Fat Freddie’s Drop and Will Young and see comedy with Sandi Toksvig and Catherine Mayer

Group Two: Thursday 1 June – Sunday 4 June

  • See and engage with political thinkers such as Marcus Brigstocke, George Monbiot, Philippe Sands and Bernie Saunders. See writers such as Anthony Horowitz, Juno Dawson and Rageh Omaar.
  • Attend the BOOKSELLERS YA prize-giving event and the Harry Potter@20 event. See comedy with Ava Vidal and Mark Watson and music from Ina Modja

A full itinerary will be sent out to successful candidates on Friday 28 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
  • Blog on Hay Festival website to record their experiences and achievements and explore careers in writing and journalism

How to apply - The deadline for applications is Monday 24 April

  • Applicants must currently be in year 12 or 13 in a Welsh school, Sixth Form or FE college and have a demonstrable interest in either creative or documentary writing
  • Applicants must submit a piece of writing (300 to 500 words), this does not need to be a new piece of work
  • Provide a letter of recommendation from your teacher

Please submit your piece of writing along with a teacher’s letter of recommendation by email or post to Weighting will be given for Schools Challenge Cymru and LACE applicants.

What happens next?

A panel of judges will review all applications and select 20 students on the creative potential of their written submissions and their teacher’s recommendation.

Weighting will be given to Schools Challenge Cymru and LACE applicants. We will respond to your applications by Friday 28 April with a full programme of events and activities.

For further information or queries please contact Education Manager, Aine Venables Tel: 01497 822620

Hay Beacons members with HAY sign
Hay Beacons team