Frequently Asked Questions

What are the dates for Hay Festival?

Next year, the festival will run from Thursday 21 May to Sunday 31 May 2020.
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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 and offers festival-goers a special rate – book here.

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

Car parking can be pre-booked for the Car Park at Hay in aid of Macmillan, which is the closest parking available to the festival site. Disabled car parking on site can also be pre-booked. There will be additional Park & Ride Car Parking available at Clyro Court (Baskerville Hall Hotel), HR3 5LE. See parking.

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 in full-time higher education and young people aged between 16-25. If you fall into either of these categories you can come and enjoy events (subject to availability) for free. To apply for tickets first create an account on the Compass page.

When you have done this call the Box Office on 01497 822 629 on or after 1 May (student tickets cannot be booked online). 

Each student can pick up to five events – generally tickets costing over £15 are excluded, although if you do have a particular desire to see something more expensive, please let us know and we will try to accommodate you if we have capacity.  Please have your list of events 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 and you will be asked to present your valid student ID when collecting tickets them.

Young people aged 16–25 can also access events for free! First sign up to Compass to receive a festival wristband. The wristband will get you free tickets to any events where we have enough availability.

These events will be posted on the Compass page of the website a few days in advance of the festival, with more added daily throughout the Festival. 

You will need to show the Box Office staff your wristband and they will print your tickets. You may be required to show proof of age ID and will need the wristband and a ticket to gain entry to the event.

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. With an annual membership, Friends get three days’ priority booking on all tickets we release and join a different queue at festival venues, which allows them in to choose their seats first. Become a Friend of Hay Festival.

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.

What is the festival policy on photography?

Only accredited photographers may photograph events, and accreditation must be sought from the press office. Please respect the copyright and integrity of the festival programme when sharing images on social media. Visitors to the festival may be filmed and/or photographed by accredited festival photographers for reports of the festival and future promotion of the festival.

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.

Parents please note that some comedy shows that start after 7pm may feature explicit material that parents may consider not to be suitable for children under 16 years of age.

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 & 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 – 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 2019 Site Map

Hay Festival site map