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Hay Winter Weekend

Hay Winter Weekend: A guide to the book-loving Welsh Village

Wednesday 27 November 2019

The Hay festival has become one of the most inspiring and exciting literature festivals in the UK. With two festivals taking place in the dainty Welsh village of Hay-on-wye, the festival has all but cemented the villages name in the literary diary.

The hay festival is believed to have been founded around a kitchen table in 1987 after a big poker game win. What spawned from this, is the great journey the literature festival has been on ever since.

One of the festivals Hay runs is the Hay festival winter weekend. The annual mini festival has been running for nearly twenty years and takes place just before Christmas, welcoming travellers, readers and writers into the Welsh countryside. Events are hosted all around the town and includes a wide variety of things to do including author speaks, music, comedy, workshops and Christmas shopping.

In anticipation for the Hay winter weekend we have listed the top five author showcase events you won’t want to miss.

Top 5 showcase events

Bernardine Evaristo - Friday 29 November 2019, 5pm Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

Bernadine is a very talented author and the winner of the coveted 2019 booker prize award. She will be discussing her joyous and inventive book titled ‘Girl, Woman, Other’. The novel explores the contrasting lives of 12 black British women of different generations. Costing £10.00 a ticket this is certainly one to pencil into the itinerary.

Cerys Matthews - Friday 29 November 2019, 7pm Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

Cerys Matthews MBE is a welsh singer, songwriter and author. Whether you’re an idolising fan of her music or intrigued about her recipes in her cookbook, ‘Where the wild cooks go’, you should find the time to listen in on what the talented Welsh native has to say for just £10.00.

Russell Kane - Thursday 28 November 2019, 8pm Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

The English comedian and writer has graced our radio and televisions in the past and is back with his new book, ‘Son of a silverback’. Kane sits down with The Guardian writer, Oliver Bullough to discuss everything about his father and living under a strict regime of alpha-dominance. Pricing £10.00.

Sir Max Hastings - Friday 29 November 2019, 3.30pm Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

A British journalist who has established himself as a heavyweight of the English press. Hastings has worked in senior position for the BBC, The Daily Telegraph and The Evening Standard. Drawing upon his linguistic skills, Hastings is set to deliver a superb narrative of one of the most extraordinary events in British history. A £10 entry fee is a worthy admission to listen in on the reading from his book ‘Chastise: The Dambusters story 1943’.

Thomas Waters - Friday 29 November 2019, 2.15pm Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

If you ever wanted an insight into witchcraft and black magic, this is the event for you. Thomas waters, a teacher from the Imperial college of London and Workers Educational Association offers an in-depth scrutinization of modern-time magic and delphs into the alluring power of primeval fears. For £10, prepare to start sporting your witch hat and broomstick.

If you’re going to the Hay winter weekend, you’re going to need the inside scoop on the Welsh village. Where do you go? Where should you eat? Don’t worry we know a thing or two. Have a look at some of our other suggestions to do in Hay-on-wye.

Our top 4 restaurants

Tomatitos Tapas Bar

Located in the centre of the village is Tomatitos tapas bar serving some of the finest European food. The bar offers an array of taste bud tingling dishes and delightful staff service. Once A pub now an esteemed Mediterranean dining experience. Your perfect destination for dinner after all those narrative readings.

The Old Electric Shop

The Old electric shop is a personification of what a small fusion café should be. Offering a range of vegetarian lunch time bites, as well as doing their bit for the environment, making all their napkins, cups and disposables all compostable. The ideal lunching destination. And once you’re finished with lunch, there is still a shop and bookstore to browse through and find some quirky items you didn’t know you needed.


Image credit - Adam Tatton-Reid

The Three Tuns

The oldest pub in Hay-on-wye, dating back to the 16th Century. This old pub creates an ambience of rich Welsh agricultural history combined with the scintillating smells of the Italian cuisine. Also located in the heart of the village, the Three Tuns is a great place to simply relax and unwind with a glass or red or even a local ale.

Richard Booths Bookshop Café

As one may guess from the name of this establishment, the influence of books is strong. As one of the largest second-hand books in Britain, Richard Booth’s bookshop is a bookworm’s fantasy. As you endeavour over the novel upstairs, the café sits downstairs with it’s inviting aromas occupying the whole building. Offering a variety of dishes that optimise contemporary cuisine, a certain hotspot for those of us in love with everything literature.

3 Famous Quotes about Hay

“A Woodstock of the mind” – Bill Clinton

“I don’t do research anymore, I ask the audience at Hay” – Author Ian McEwan

“The joy of the festival is that it allows you to stumble across things you didn’t know you wanted to know” – BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson

2 Great Hotels to stay at

The Swan

A gorgeous Georgian building moments away from the bustling village centre and located in close proximity to the Welsh Marches, Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. The hotel is host to 19 newly renovated en-suite rooms, just a short while away from all the events of the winter weekend, The Swan offers great food also; sourcing local produce to create some scintillating dishes.

The House in the hills

This sweet escape is roughly 20 minutes away from Hay, and even though it’s a bit of a drive away, its worth it. Trust us.

A converted farmhouse and barn in earshot of the England/Wales border and being overlooked by the Black Mountains, this is the true relaxation zone. The conversions include five bedrooms and a key featurette of wood throughout. As well as a state-of-the-art hot tub to look over the grazing wildlife that inhabits the vast and naturally stunning landscape in view.

1 Place to consider

Lock’s Garage

Hear us out……

This is no ordinary petrol station. This is the Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory of petrol stations. As you may have guessed, Lock’s garage is home to all your petrol and diesel needs, but what happens if you enter the shop?

You are greeted with everything and anything. The crown jewel is an array of wonderful ice cream and smoothie machines that will be the best tasting ice cream you’ve had in a while. And if you haven’t got a sweet tooth then you can always browse the flowers and gun ammunition areas of the shop.


Literary Festivals

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