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Hay Festival Winter Weekend
13th September 2018update by: Hay Festival
Early-birds and new dates for Hay Festival Winter Weekend, 22-25 November. Gina Miller, Rose Tremain, Kate Humble, James O’Brien, Mark Urban and Mary Portas to appear Hay Festival has today announced early-bird events for the 19th Hay Festival Winter Weekend in Hay-on-Wye, alongside new dates (22-25 November 2018) and expanded venue formats. Blending politics and global affairs with the finest fiction and nature writing, early-bird events launched today offer a glimpse at the upcoming programme. Campaigner Gina Miller talks Rise!; award-winning writer Rose Tremain revisits her 2008 novel The Road Home; broadcaster Kate Humble presents her reflections on a year spent walking, Thinking on my Feet; BBC Newsnight’s diplomatic editor Mark Urban discusses the explosive story of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal in The Skripal Files; 'Queen of Shops' Mary Portas offers her thoughts on improving workplaces, Work Like a Woman; and broadcaster James O’Brien presents his new guide on talking to people with different opinions, How to Be Right.

Tickets are on general sale now at or 01497 822 629. The full festival programme will be announced on Wednesday 10 October, when tickets go on sale to Friends of Hay Festival. Tickets will be on general sale from Saturday 13 October.

Taking place beneath the Black Mountains on the banks of the River Wye, the festival offers four days of family fun within the stunning surrounds of the town’s independent bookshops, cafés, and markets, just a stone’s throw from the Brecon Beacons National Park. Building on the success of last year’s record-breaking edition, this year’s festival will incorporate a new 500-seater marquee on the Cattle Market and a pop-up bookshop space, while using The School Hall and St Mary’s Church for additional events.

Now in its 19th year, this year’s programme will be the most ambitious yet, blending literary conversation, immersive performances and family workshops. Organisers will once again name their Book of the Year, won in 2017 by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane for The Lost Words. Meanwhile, the town’s iconic market square remains a focus of festivities with the Hay Christmas lights switch-on event on Friday 23 November; Hay Food Festival on Saturday 24 November; and Hay Does Vintage fair on Sunday 25 November.

Peter Florence, Director of Hay Festival, said: “As we move into autumn we’re delighted to share our Winter Weekend early-birds: something to look forward to as the nights draw in. Hay Festival Winter Weekend is a chance to experience Hay as never before. The town is decked in Christmas lights and glistening with winter cheer. There will be great writers, inspiring thinkers, and a thrilling bazaar of local crafts, foods and curiosities. Join us.”

Commenting on last year’s winter festival, novelist Jeanette Winterson said: “It’s the time of year we need some internal sunshine and that’s what this is. It’s a place where there’s light and there’s warmth and a lot of fun.”

Meanwhile, poet Gillian Clarke said: “Making Hay in winter, feeling the love of so many poetry friends, has been gratifying. May the company of words build a bridge, not a wall, between us and the world.”

Andrew Williams, Chair of Hay and District Chamber of Commerce, said: “Hay is a magical town whatever the time of year, from the literary delights of Hay Festival at the end of May to paddling down the Wye during the long, lazy summer months. But the run-up to Christmas in Hay is the perfect time to visit. As the lights twinkle, shops throw open their doors to offer one-of-a-kind gifts and pubs are thronged with cheer as guests gather round the roaring fires. Markets spring up at the weekends and cosy B&Bs offer a quick getaway from the festive frenzy so common in the cities. Christmas in Hay may sound like a fairy tale, but the reality is even better than that – we can’t wait to welcome you!”

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