Hay Festival Rolls Out Anniversary Program for Its Wales Event

In News by Porter Anderson

With almost as many branding handles as speakers, the highly regarded event’s home festival at Hay-on-Wye announces its program for late May and early June.

The Hay Festival releases programming information on its 30th anniversary season in Wales, with international programs to follow. Image: Hay Festival, Sam Hardwick

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

Bales of Hay Speakers
Having announced special events for the year built on the program’s 30th anniversary, Wales’ Hay Festival today (April 3) is releasing a 2017 programming statement that puts some names to a dizzying array of events and brandings.

Hay Festival 30th Anniversary logoYou can find full program listings at the website here, and regular Hay goers will know to look early at the listings and take some time with them to sort out what otherwise can seem a blur of familiar-sounding names by the handful.

As reported by Publishing Perspectives, “30 Reformations”—an ambitious series in which the organization has said that “Hay Festival will spark 30 global reformations”—is at the heart of the programming plan.

People connected to this project as “writers and thinkers” who will “sound a clarion call for a better world” include, according to a press statement:

  • Stephen Fry on the digital sphere;
  • Former deputy governer of the Bank of England Nemat Shafik on expertise;
  • Jeanette Winterson on marriage;
  • Philippe Sands on citizenship;
  • Elif Shafak on honor;
  • Suzanne O’Sullivan on the UK’s National Health Service; and
  • Gillian Tett on corporations.

The mechanism by which these anticipated “reformations” will be “sparked” is a series of “conversations, lectures, and essays.” Twenty-two of them have been named for the core festival in Wales, May 25 to June 4, while eight more are to be found at some of the Hay Festival iterations held in other countries during the remainder of the year.

In broadest outlines, the “reformations” program appears to be something close to TED Talks by speakers from disciplines including food, geography, law, veterinary surgery, aging, neuroscience, citizenship, economics, adolescence, climate change, and faith.

The 2017 Hay program includes some 800 events in literature and ideas, as well as comedy, music, and a new late-night venue called The Sound of the Baskervilles. Image: Hay Festival, Sam Hardwick

Making Hay

Another branded feature, “Hay 30,” is intended to draw from the “next generation of thinkers,” speakers who are promised to be “astonishing and inspiring” and will be asked to “lead a conversation on site.” As in the “reformations” program, this sequence of events comprises a broad range of thematic bases including quantum mechanics, music, mental health activism, and oceanography.

Speakers in this series include US Sen. Bernie Sanders and the UK’s former home secretary, Alan Johnson, as well as chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and the former president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón.

Tickets go on general sale for the Hay Festival at Hay-on-Rye in Wales on Thursday (April 6).

Yet more branding comes into play with the “Hay on Earth Forum” (May 25), with “inspirational entrepreneurs who have found and are developing innovative ways of solving problems in transport, growing food and using waste.” That event structure features Jonathon Porritt; Lucy Siegle and George Monbiot; founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network George Marshall; Elvis & Kresse co-owner Kresse Wesling; CEO of the Soil Association Helen Browning; and authors Sarah Thomas, Darragh Martin, Justina Hart and David Thorpe.

And still more branded events lie under the “HayDays” banner, which specializes in “family favorites” including Jacqueline Wilson, Judith Kerr, Julia Donaldson, Chris Riddell, Adrian Edmundson, Anthony Horowitz, Axel Sheffler, Julian Clary, Marcus Sedgwick, Michael Rosen, Maria Turtschaninoff, Akala, Gemma Cairney, Juno Dawson, Kimberly Wyatt, Patrick Ness, Sarah Crossan, The Bookseller YA Book Prize shortlist, and the Aarhus 39 writers of short story writers for two anthologies.

Image: Hay Festival, Chris Athanasiou

Hay Stacked

More directly associated with literary interests, there are conversations in fiction “with some of the biggest writers on the planet,” including, according to organizers, Elizabeth Strout, Colm Toíbín, Rose Tremain, David Mitchell, Ian Rankin, Helen Fielding, Sebastian Barry, Paul Beatty, Howard Jacobson, Madeleine Thien, Elif Shafak, John Boyne, Meg Rosoff, Jonathan Safran Foer, Hanif Kureishi, Paula Hawkins, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Otessa Moshfegh, Jake Arnott, Hari Kunzru,Victoria Hislop, Eimear McBride, Cynan Jones, Tony Parsons, Laura McVeigh, Cory Doctorow, Richard Russo, and Baileys Prize-winner Lisa McInerney.

Polish Olga Tokarczuk, who was at London Book Fair in March as part of the fair’s Market Focus Poland program, will be heard in interview, and translator Ann Goldstein will talk about her English translations of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels.

Peter Florence

In a prepared statement, Hay director Peter Florence, is quoted, saying, “For 30 years, Hay Festival has brought readers and writers together to share stories and ideas, to imagine the world–to tell our truths and renew our lives.

“We’ve seen the world move from paper to the digital realm, we’ve witnessed boundaries and languages shift, and vast migrations of people and money.

“We trust writers and the authority of the published word.”

More details on programming for the 30th season are here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.