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"Flushed with enthusiasm" at the Hay Festival


The Guardian Hay Festival, 22 May to 1 June, "is among the largest literary get-togethers in the English-speaking world, attracting up to 50,000 people each year for interviews, lectures, readings and performances featuring distinguished authors and public figures". This year's programme features the Duchess of Devonshire, Jeremy Clarkson, Former US President Jimmy Carter, Charlotte Mosley, Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, Jools Holland, John Irving, and Cherie Booth. Conservative thinkers are, as usual, outnumbered, but not outflanked. Award-winning photographer and tree hunter Edward Parker will also attend, and the newly designed brochure looks terrific.

The town of Hay is renowned for its good food, 39 bookstores (at last count), beautiful countryside, and convivial atmosphere. The festival is said to leave those who attend "flushed with enthusiasm".

Director Peter Florence described the festival's conception -

"In August 1987, a bunch of us got together around my mother’s kitchen table. My father had the idea of inviting friends and some people he really admired up for the weekend to talk, play and hang out. Flo’s plan was that the gathering should be informal, international and great fun. He figured that we had two amazing advantages in trying to get this off the ground – the staggering beauty of the Brecon Beacons National Park where we live, and the people of Hay, whose generosity and imagination make this town so exciting. Twenty festivals on it’s pretty much worked out how he envisioned it.