This year will mark the 37th Hay Festival, which takes place over eleven days, from May 23 to June 2, on the edge of the Brecon Becons National Park.

As they say, ‘In a year when more voters than ever in history will head to the polls as at least 64 countries hold their elections, we present a programme to bring people together, respectfully exploring different perspectives and the power of storytelling to unite us.’

Hear, hear.


The wonderful Anna Jones, veggie cook and author of the indispensable new recipe book, Easy Wins, will talk to Welsh presenter Meinir Howells about how to reduce waste and energy while cooking and yet still produce some absolute bangers in the kitchen.


Warming to a foodie theme, scientist and author Tim Spector, the now-ubiquitous founder of the Zoe Health programme, will be in conversation with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall about the importance of gut health and how to eat at least 30 plants a week. This one is, alas, sold out but the festival organisers are considering putting a selection of events online, depending on demand. We’d wager this will be amongst them. Register your interest to make it happen.


The fight against climate change is rightly one of the recurring themes threaded through many of the conversations taking place at the festival (elsewhere the likes of George Monbiot and David Miliband will be appearing). One of the best qualified to speak on the matter is Chris Skidmore, the former Energy Minister who signed Net Zero into law and resigned as an MP in protest at the government’s plans to expand oil and gas production in the North Sea. At Hay, he will be in conversation with Nik Gowing, the Founder and Co-Director of Thinking the Unthinkable. Not to be missed.


The world is in a state. It is, then, more important than ever to have a laugh. Nish Kumar has racked up rave reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe, and two of his performances have been nominated for the prestigious Comedy Award for Best Show. The QI, Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, Have I Got News for You regular is now coming to Hay to trial his new show, Don’t Kill My Vibe. Now is your chance to be amongst the first to see it.


It is always worth going to see Thomas Heatherwick talk. The wunderkind turned prolific architect is all about inventiveness and humanity: two traits the world could do with much, much more of in the face of a sea of grey suits.


Get to know more about Hay itself. In the hours between listening to talks in tents, do go for an explore – but not before you listen to Hay local historians Elizabeth Bingham and Mary Morgan talk monuments and memorials. Their areas of interest? ‘The Chartists’ cave, artists and actors, the Brute stonemasons, a Methodist martyr, a notorious ghost, aircraft crashes, Victorian vicars, a murdered pedlar, a Neolithic monument, a bulldog, water troughs and a wood.’


Fans of Jodi Picoult will get the chance to exclusively preview her new novel By Any Other Name, which is to be published in October. As the blurb goes, ‘Moving between Elizabethan England and modern-day Manhattan, it explores the theme of identity and the ways in which two women, centuries apart – one of whom might be the real author of Shakespeare’s plays – are both forced to hide behind another name to make their voices heard.’ Picoult calls this, her 29th novel, ‘the book of my heart.’


David Nicholls’s name has been much on everyone’s lips in 2024. Not only was the nation gripped by the recent Netflix adaptation of One Day, but he also has a new book out. You Are Here is vintage Nicholls, its unlikely protagonists falling in love with one another over the course of a hiking holiday that one of them never wanted to go on and the other wishes they could have done alone. It’s not so much a will-they, won’t they (it’s pretty clear they will); as ever with Nicholls, the joy is in the ease of the witty dialogue. All the more reason, then, to listen to him in conversation for yourself.


Who wants to hear Jeanette Winterson on ghost stories? Us please! Described as ‘gloriously Gothic and unnervingly contemporary’, her Night Side of the River comprises short stories that delve into the author’s own experiences with the supernatural as well as probing the effect of technology on the line between life and death. We’d go to the festival for this alone.