It’s been a long two-year break. Boy, we’re happy to see Hay Festival return in 2022.
Hay Festival will always have a special spot in our hearts. We moved to the Welsh borders where James grew up four years ago, but there's a magic to Hay Festival which we were lucky enough to soak up before we escaped the city.
Hay Festival is an annual literature and arts festival unlike any other. Over 200,000 visitors head to idyllic town of Hay-on-Wye to rub shoulders with some of the world’s greatest authors, poets. journalists and broadcasters. All of this happens in a village of big tents just a short walk from the town centre and on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
“It’s been 35 years since writers and readers started sharing stories together in our Festival tents. We have never needed these stories more urgently.” says Hay Festival international director Cristina Fuentes La Roche.
So, where to start? Here are our top 10 things to see and do at Hay Festival 2022.
1. Foraging with Adele Nozedar
Foraging is one of the simplest ways to get closer to nature. In The Tree Forager, Adele Nozedar takes us on an enchanting journey profiling 40 incredible trees from apple to yew. In the book she explores their beauty, wildlife and folklore. Adele is joined by botanical illustrator and Hay resident Lizzie Harper who brings Adele’s books to life with her vivid drawings.
Thursday 26 May 2022, 2.30pm
2. Spoken word with PJ Harvey
Hear PJ Harvey recite poems from her beautiful and profound new book Orlam. It’s both a remarkable coming-of-age tale and the first full-length book written in the Dorset dialect for decades. Orlam is a uniquely strange and moving poem and reveals Harvey as a gifted poet.
Friday 27 May 2022, 5.30pm
3. Why we love history on telly
TV adaptations like The Crown and A Very English Scandal are incredibly popular, proving that appetite for stories from our past is anything but satiated. Join Wolfson History Prize shortlisted historians Alex von Tunzelmann and Miranda Kaufmann who explore why TV adaptations of history books are so in demand and how they expand our perception of events.
Wednesday 1 June 2022, 7pm
4. Nature is a human right
Our need for nature has become clearer than ever, yet our access to it is unequal. Speakers discuss the socio-political influences excluding millions from green spaces and what we can do about it. Nick Hayes is co-founder of the Right to Roam campaign and author of The Book of Trespass; Ellen Miles is founder of Nature is a Human Right and a guerrilla gardener; Louisa Adjoa Parker writes on rural racism; and Daniel Raven-Ellison founded National Park City.
Wednesday 1 June 2022, 11.30am
5. The world according to colour
Join art historian and BBC broadcaster James Fox on a tour of civilisation through the lens of colour. Fox explores our relationship with colour - from the black nothing before existence and the gilded gods of antiquity, to the defining colour of the fight against climate change. Take a trip through the work of artists, scientists and inventors and discover how colour is fundamental to who we are.
Thursday 2 June 2022, 7pm
6. We need to talk about birth
As a mixed-race mother and parents of two, for us this event is a much-needed forum. Candice Brathwaite addresses the higher maternal mortality rates for black women in Britain. Founder of Pregnant Then Screwed Joeli Brearley highlights the experiences of women on maternity wards during Covid-19. In her memoir Frontline Midwife, Anna Kent shares her experiences of working in South Sudan, Bangladesh and the NHS. The event is hosted by journalist and founding member of local citizen science project Friends of the Upper Wye, Nicola Cutcher.
Monday 30 May 2022, 4pm
7. Simon Amstell’s Spirit Hole
Spirit Hole is a spiritual and sensational exploration of love, sex, shame, mushrooms and more. It’s also clever, original, hilarious and razor-sharp. Fuelled by outrageous stories and neurosis, Amstell’s unique flavour of lacerating self-deprecation will set you up nicely for a night of unprecedented laughter.
Friday 27 May 2022, 8.30pm–10.20pm
8. Shakespeare’s Globe on Tour
Hay Castle is throwing its giant doors open to the public for the first time in 900 years. Watch Julius Caesar in an open-air theatre against its stunning backdrop. Shakespeare’s political thriller is being re-told in the make-do fashion of Elizabethan times and with a refreshed production.
Whilst you’re there…try the brand new Hay Castle Cafe between 10-5pm for artisan coffee, breakfast or lunch. Also serving local craft drinks and organic wines.
Thursday 26th May - Wednesday 1st June, 2.30pm or 7pm
9. Hay Deli Pop-Up Shop
The town’s beloved Hay Deli will be setting up shop in the festival grounds for the first time this year. Stock up on quality specialist produce and picnic platters to takeaway. We can thoroughly recommend their Santiago tarts, to-die for pesto and an excellent range of local cheese from Neal’s Yard Creamery. Head to 41 Lion Street in town for their main shop. Or swing by the stall and you might just find me there!
10. Woodland Trust Stall
The Woodland Trust is dedicated to creating natural by creating, protecting and restoring native woodland. Take home a gorgeous free tree and if you have little ones, they’ll love the tree-based craft activities. Don’t forget to say hello to Keith the Leaf - a friendly giant ancient tree you won’t miss roaming around.
Things not to miss in the town of Hay-on-Wye, a short walk from the Hay Festival site
How the Light Gets In Festival
If Hay Festival wasn’t enough, head down the road for Hay’s music and philosophy festival How The Light Gets In. See talks with writers and academics, side-by-side with banquets, comedy, music and DJ sets. If you need a lie down after some constructive debate, head to the onsite therapeutic tent for a reiki session, massage or reflexology. Or unwind to views of the glistening river wye.
How the Light Gets In, Newport Street, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5BZ. Thursday 2nd - Sunday 5th June
Mary Mabbutt at The Table Gallery
Mabbutt’s paintings emerge from her everyday life. Her kitchen table is where abstracted forms dance with delicious colour and the ordinary is brought into mesmerising focus. Get inspired by her striking portraits and enviable table scenes featuring mid-century wares swathed in lilacs, grey-blues and mustard.
The Table Gallery, 43 Lion St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5AA. New sister gallery, The Chair is also showing Maggie Jones and Corisande Albert.
Hay Castle Street Food Market
Behind the door of the walled castle grounds lies an epicurean delight. Stroll up town to feast on fresh pasta and falafel, tacos by El Cerdo Verde and pastries by Thursday Hay Market regulars Dugan’s Patisserie, to name a few. Relax over a coffee, local juice or glass of bubbly whilst soaking up the sunshine.
Opens from 9am daily during the festival, Honesty Bookshop on Castle Street
Barabeka Hay Festival Supper Clubs
Hereford-based purveyors of honest, local, seasonal food A Rule of Tum presents Barabeka - a special pop up of chef Mike Fullard’s sell-out Indian inspired feast. Chow down on a tantalising feasting menu including wood roasted celeriac korma, smoked pork shoulder and cardamom roasted pineapple, all in the atmospheric woods at Racquety Farm.
Daily during the festival, from 6pm
Larchwood Studio & Retreat, Racquety Farm, walkable from Hay-on-Wye town centre
Gin tastings at Hay’s very own distillery
Natalie Evans is one clever lady. Not only does she make the delicately balanced and very sippable Wild Knapp Gin inspired by the land overlooking the river wye, she’s just opened a new distillery and bottle shop in Hay. Try a tasting, proper gin cocktails and her epic gin slushies over snacks for when the sun shines.
Open daily during the festival until late. Hay Distillery, Brook St, Hay-on-Wye, Hereford HR3 5BQ
Mad Hatters Craft Party Artisan Craft Market
The Mad Hatters Artisan Craft Market returns to The Butter Market in Hay-on-Wye. Meet the local makers behind a huge range of handcrafted wares - from reclaimed wood and iron furniture makers, fine artists and ceramicists to soap makers, wood turners and jewellery makers.
Saturday 28th May, Monday 30th May and Friday 3rd June 10-4pm
The Butter Market, Hay-on-Wye, HR3 5AF
Live music at the Old Electric Shop
When the festival comes to town, this eclectic haven of vintage curios and artisanal homewares puts on its party hat. Open every night until late, head to the Old Electric for its locally sourced wholesome vegan and vegetarian food, smart selection of cocktails and live bands in its beautifully curated surroundings.
Open until 11pm daily during the festival. The Old Electric Shop, 10 Broad Street
Karim’s Kurdish Street Food Pop-Up
This may well be the first time ever Kurdish food has hit the streets of Hay. We couldn’t be more excited. Karim Najmalddin is a chef at The Kilpeck Inn near Hereford and he'll be serving British-Kurdish food straight from his doorstep. Think flatbreads, salads, mezze, and rice dishes abundant with fresh herbs -the kind of fragrant flavour-packed comfort food we can't get enough of right now.
2 Castle Street, Hay-on-Wye, opposite Hay Castle and next to Mostly Maps
Make your own notebook…
When in the town of books! Oil & Oak is a community shop and gallery who support local independent makers and artists. Learn how to create your own hardback and stitched pamphlet notebooks over a morning powered by tea and cake. You’ll spot Oil & Oak’s gloriously peachy exterior on the corner of Belmont Street and Castle street, opposite the brilliant greengrocers.
Oil & Oak, Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th June 10am -12pm
Hay Festival 2022 is on from Thursday 26th May to Sunday 5th June in Hay-on-Wye.
Dive into the full programme for Hay Festival 2022.
Hay Festival Accommodation 2022
Looking for Hay Festival 2022 accommodation? Our remote welsh holiday cottage and vineyard accommodation Highbrook Cottage is just a 30 minute drive from Hay-on-Wye and has availability.
Check out our guide on top 20 festivals and events in the Welsh Borders in 2022.