A quirky lovely long weekend — our first time at Hay.
WE loved: the joyful relaxed vibe, the events, the town itself and the camping by the river. It was COLD though!
We’d heard so much about the Hay Festival and were really looking forward to our first visit there. It didn’t disappoint. What’s not to like about a huge complex of marquees offering a feast of book-based talks, activities and workshops? Visually, it’s a delight — all brightly coloured deck chairs, hay-bales, bunting and white canvas, and there are plenty of places to rest your feet, have a drink or a bite to eat and watch this really rather lovely version of the world go by.
We hadn’t pre booked many activities at all — one per child and nothing for the adults — but it didn’t matter much, as there seemed to be enough last-minute tickets to please even the least organised. No military-style booking months in advance here (though I’m sure the big names sell out pretty quickly). So, our eldest did a cooking activity (they made delicious Italian flatbread pizzas) and a YA talk with the amazing Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan, while the younger kids listened to Liz Pichon talk about her Tom Gates series. We ALL made festival crowns in the brilliant kids’ activity tent (and wore them with pride for ever afterwards) and I even managed a grownup event — the entertaining and hilarious poet Lemn Sissay.
This was our first festival camping and we loved it! It had everything we needed (decent loo block, nice cafe/bar, plenty of space, relaxed campers) and not much else, and was close enough to the river Wye for the experts to while away some time honing their skimming skills.
I should also say something about Hay on Wye itself. We only spent enough time there for one quick drink (nestled in among the castle walls) but it definitely seemed like a place to return to, with or without the festival. One more for the ever-growing list of places to come back to!
The useful stuff
Not much to say here, really. We found and booked everything through the festival website (https://www.hayfestival.com) and it was all pretty straightforward. You can just go with the flow, Hay festival style.