Frequently Asked Questions

What were the dates for Hay Festival in 2017?

The Festival ran from Thursday 25 May through to Sunday 4 June 2017.

In 2018, the Festival will run from Thursday 24 May to Sunday 3 June.
Add the 2018 dates to your calendar

Where is the Festival?

In a tented village at Hay-on-Wye, on the edge of the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. We’re between Hereford and Brecon just off the A438 – see travel.

How do we get there?

Trains to Hereford from North, Midlands and South are met by festival buses. It’s a beautiful but exacting bike ride, and a stupendous drive from any direction – see travel.

Where do we stay?

There’s spectacular and reasonably priced camping all around – see accommodation. B&Bs and hotels tend to get booked up year on year by regular visitors, but there’s a local website that lists anyone with a spare bedroom within 40 miles! The website is called visithay.co.uk and offers festival goers a special rate, book here.

Where do we park if we are visiting for the day?

In order to reduce traffic and avoid congestion in our tiny town, we urge you to book parking in our official car park. This is located at Clyro Court (Baskerville Hall Hotel), HR3 5LE.

A direct, free and frequent shuttle bus service will operate between Clyro Court and the Festival site, dropping you off, right outside the entrance. These buses will run from before the first event until after the last event, with a normal journey time of under ten minutes.

The car park is also suitable even if it rains, so should the weather turn inclement, you will not be left stuck in the mud! Parking costs £6 per day, with discounts for multiple days. You can book parking here.

What does the festival site look like and how accessible is it?

The Festival is located on a green field site with all the venues just a brief walk apart linked by covered and carpeted boardwalks. Unlike many festivals, you shouldn’t encounter too much mud. View a map of the site here.

We have easily accessible drop-off points and a disabled car park for blue badge holders on site.

Please call the Box Office on 01497 822 629 to book the disabled car park and for any other accessibility queries that you have, and we will do our best to make your visit as easy as possible.

It is also worth noting that the Festival is at its busiest during the first weekend; midweek tends to be a little less congested.

How is the festival ticketed?

There is no charge for entrance to the festival site; you buy tickets only for the events you want to see.

You can buy tickets online, or select the events you wish to attend and call the Box Office on 01497 822 629.

Events will sell out and booking can be competitive. If you sign up to our mailing list or become a Friend (where you receive priority booking) we can let you know immediately when tickets are released.

The full programme, approximately 600+ events, is not normally released until the beginning of April; we do, however, release some ‘earlybird’ tickets sooner. These are selected highlights to whet your appetite and will often sell out by the time the full programme is released.

How much does it cost?

Tickets range from £5 to £40. There are some free events and workshops but these might have a limited capacity so please check event listings for details. Prices for children’s events are kept as low as possible, and there are normally no concessions.

Are there free tickets for Students?

We are committed to increasing access to the Festival for students and those in full-time higher education. If you fall into this category you can come and enjoy educational events for free. We keep back a student allocation for all events.

If you would like to secure some of these tickets, please call the Box Office on 01497 822 629 on or after 2 May (student tickets cannot be booked online). Each student can pick up to five events – if the ticket allocation is gone for a particular event, you will be asked to chose a replacement. Please have your list ready, together with your reserve choices and the corresponding event numbers, before you call.

You will need to quote your student ID when booking tickets, and we ask for a £10 deposit payable by credit or debit card, refundable when you collect your tickets at the Box Office. We ask for a deposit in order to prevent wastage of uncollected tickets. Tickets will be held at the Box Office for collection, and you will be asked to present your valid student ID when collecting tickets.

Who are the Friends of Hay Festival and what are the benefits of becoming a Friend?

Friends are our loyal supporters whose involvement is greatly valued. In return for an annual membership, Friends get three days’ priority booking on all tickets we release and join a different queue at the festival, which allows them into the venue to choose their seats first. To become a Friend of the festival click here.

How did it start?

Some say Big Bang, some believe in a freak poker game... more likely there were a bunch of friends round a kitchen table wanting something to do of an evening.

How are the writers chosen?

We invite the writers, artists, academics, thinkers and performers we most admire. We try to bring the greatest contemporary practitioners and the most exciting new voices to our audiences. The directors talk to publishers, writers and a huge range of advisors – including many Festival-goers themselves.

Who goes?

Well, according to the survey results... Hay-goers have very little socially, economically or politically in common other than the Festival. Debate results suggest they are sceptical about monarchy and religion, not much bothered about hunting, very bothered about illegal invasions of other countries conducted with no medium and longer term planning, and passionately engaged with the environment, good food and having a good time. Writers say they’re exceptionally well read and pretty smart.

Is it good for families?

There’s a great kids programme and lots of events with broad family appeal, and a whole section of the Festival is devoted to toddlers and parents. Step off-site and you can walk, swim, ride, paraglide and enjoy the most beautiful countryside in Britain.

What's the safety policy for kids?

Children aged 12 years and under must be accompanied at all times by a parent or guardian, including during events, unless otherwise stated in the programme.

The Lost Child Point is located in the Make and Take Tent in the HAYDAYS Courtyard between 10am and 5pm every day. Outside these hours it will be located in the Festival Admin Office, next to the Box Office on site.

How is it for singletons?

Give it a go. There are thousands of people here to make friends with. We’ve had 29 weddings of couples who met at the festival. And they’re just the ones who got hitched. It’s not the ideal location for solitude or misanthropy, unless you’re after a cure.

Can I bring my dog on site?

Unfortunately only assistance dogs are allowed inside Hay Festival events and within the main festival site. The site can get incredibly busy, the tents can get hot and need to be quiet when events are taking place. Although we love dogs and know the majority of dog owners are responsible, we have to have a one-rule-for-all policy.

We hope that this doesn’t stop you from coming to the festival. The town and surrounding countryside is great for dogs. There are many lovely walks nearby, including the mountains above Hay and a path along the river. See the Hay Tourist Information Bureau website for some ideas.

I can’t get there this year...

That’s a shame, since it’s our 30th anniversary. Maybe come along next year? Or join us in for the Winter Weekend or one of our international festivals.

In the meantime you can listen to, or watch us, on BBC Arts and BBC iPlayer during, and immediately after the Festival, or catch up with the events you have missed on the Hay Player, along with thousands of past events from our festivals from around the world. There will also be up-to-the-minute reports on our Facebook page and our website, with photographs of participants.

Hay Festival 2017 Site Map

Hay Festival site map