May 19

Hay Festival 2016 Programme (26th May – 5th June)

Spread the love

The Hay Festival has a special place in my heart, because I attended the first one in the late 1980s when it was an idea coming to fruition, and I was an eager aspiring writer. Now it is global, but just as exciting and intimate.

This year there is a fantastic ‘cast’. Caitlin Moran, Sam Mendes, Maxine Peake, Michael Palin, Simon Schama, Germaine Greer, Salman Rushdie, Yanis Varoufakis, Mervyn King, Monty Don, Tom Holland and Jeanette Winterson headline

Hay Festival 2016 programme (26th - 5th June)danaobrien

PLUS: comedy from Dara Ó Briain, and Sara Pascoe; amongst others, and music from Suzanne Vega, Billy Bragg, Laura Marling, K T Tunstall, Turin Brakes, and Baaba Maal

In a year of literary landmarks (Shakespeare, Cervantes, Brontë and Dahl), and on the eve of the EU referendum and US election, Hay Festival 2016 brings Nobel Prize winners, novelists, scientists, global leaders, historians, musicians and comedians together in discussions and celebrations across more than 600 events in Hay-on-Wye, Wales.

The programme, available in full at www.hayfestival.org, is diverse, pertinent and illuminating, featuring global leaders, thinkers, established talent and rising stars from across disciplines.

From stage and screen, Oscar winner Sam Mendes will discuss his film-making; Russell T Davies talks about his latest project alongside actress Maxine Peake, legendary screenwriter Andrew Davies talks about his adaptation of War and Peace; Jojo Moyes previews the new film adaptation of Me Before You; and actor Brian Blessed, travel legend Michael Palin, and Hollywood superstar Tippi Hedren discuss their careers. Plus Letters Live returns with a surprise all-star performance.

William Shakespeare is celebrated across the festival site with events starring leading figures from books, stage and screen. Simon Schama, James Shapiro, Germaine Greer, Gillian Clarke and others discuss his impact, while Howard Jacobson, Jeanette Winterson, and Tracy Chevalier discuss their recent retellings. See #TalkingaboutShakespeare for details of more than 80 events.

Three weeks before the 23 June EU referendum, the festival places a magnifying glass on the main issues, with discussions led by former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis; former Bank of England Governor Mervyn King; and former advisor to David Cameron, Steve Hilton amongst others.


Credit: Jo Charlesworth

Stars from book and screen celebrate the great outdoors, including Kate Humble, Monty Don and Chris Packham, while the past is revisited in talks from Tom Holland, Max Hastings, Jonathan Dimbleby, Philippe Sands and many more. Meanwhile, business leaders including BP CEO John Browne and household name Emma Bridgewater appear alongside a host of big thinkers including philosopher AC Grayling, mental health campaigner Ruby Wax, journalist Caitlin Moran and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates.


To balance the serious discussions, a rich strand of comedy and music will once again fill festival tents, with internationally acclaimed comedians taking the stage, including Sarah Millican, Marcus Brigstocke, Dara Ó Briain, Sara Pascoe, Isy Suttie, and the Olivier Award-winning improvised musical Showstoppers, plus music headlined by American singer-songwriter Suzanne Vega; English singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Laura Marling; Scottish superstar K T Tunstall; Indie rockers Turin Brakes; and Sengalese sensation Baaba Maal.

A newly named children’s programme – HAYDAYS – offers a range of activities and events for families and young adults led by some of the biggest names in children’s writing including Julia Donaldson, Jacqueline Wilson, Malorie Blackman, Chris Riddell, Michael Morpurgo, Cressida Cowell, and CBBC’s Sam and Mark, plus YA superstars Frances Hardinge, Holly Smale, Juno Dawson, Patrick Ness, and vlogging sensation Caspar Lee, who will discuss the power of social media and his unexpected life at the heart of it.

The full programme of more than 600 events is available to view: www.hayfestival.com/wales