Hay festival goes online

Jessica Harris looks at the upcoming Hay Festival Digital Winter Weekend.

This year, for reasons we all know about, the Hay Festival has been putting its events on line. And its forthcoming Digital Winter Weekend from 26th-29th November is timed just right to give us a lockdown lift.

If you think of literature when you think of Hay, then think again. The programme is packed with artists and scientists, historians and footballers. And, of course, there are writers and thinkers as well. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Benjamin Zephaniah will be reading from his latest children’s poetry collection Wicked World!

Benjamin Zephaniah

Skin, lead singer of multi-million-selling rock band Skunk Anansie, will talk about her work as social and cultural activist, and championing LGBTQ+.

Elton John and Arsene Wenger will be in conversation about the beautiful game.

And, after the local and global upheaval of 2020, historian, David Olusoga and journalists, Jonathan Freedland and Katya Adler will share their thoughts about what the next twelve months might bring.

You could say that spoken and written words lend themselves to digital platforms. You could say that the shift to the online world is an obvious one for Hay. But the diversity of the programme on offer, coupled with all the other work the Festival is delivering – podcasts, educational programmes, skills development academy, and more – puts a pretty fancy feather into Hay’s cap.

The fact that the Winter Weekend is free (you just need to book), is a further tribute to its commitment to engage with audiences and extend access to all.

So get yourself a front row seat for inspiring conversation, candlelit storytelling and interactive activities for all ages.


Pic – Adrian Cope