On Wednesday, Britain’s biggest book festival begins in the border town of Hay on Wye in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Each day, between 20 and 50 different sessions take place, featuring writers, comedians and musicians that the festival directors most admire. They aim to invite the greatest practitioners and the most exciting new voices. The directors talk to publishers, writers and a huge range of advisors when deciding who to invite.
The 11 day festival is known to attract world leaders, Nobel Prize winners and bestselling authors, as well as some up and coming bands and high class comedy. Last year Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Former EU Commissioner, Governor of Hong Kong and now co-Chair of the International Crisis Group, Chris Patten spoke at the festival to sell out audiences.
This year’s event promises to be bang up to date, with Sky News anchor Adam Boulton chairing a debate with senior politicians, and the President of the Maldives, Mohamed Nasheed will beam in for a conversation with Ed Miliband about the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change and building democracy in a Muslim nation.
On Friday, Nigel Mansell will be speaking about his life and motivations and Andrew Marr will discuss the Making of Modern Britain series.
Saturday sees Howard Davies, Director of London School of Economics, give his ideas of where the UK economy is heading and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is in conversation with Ruth Rogers. The River Cafe partners and former colleagues will be discussing their books with John Mitchinson.
Marcus du Sautoy, the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science will be speaking to Bill Bryson and Martin Rees and Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow, chats to the principal interpreter for French Presidents, Sarkozy, Mitterand and Chirac, Amanda Galsworthy, on the perils and pitfalls of being at the top table.
George Alagiah will chair the Country Living debate – what’s behind the logo. Jo Fairley from Green & Blacks, Harriet Lamb from the Fairtrade Foundation and Wolfgang Weinmann from Cafedirect will discuss the problems faced by consumers - not knowing where their food is coming from and the ethics of the companies involved.
The Spandau Ballet songwriter and New Romantic star, Gary Kemp reminisces with Tiffany Murray and comedian Shappi Khorsandi talks about her Iranian childhood in Tehran and post emigration London.
You can catch stand up from Irish superstar comedian Ed Byrne, Rob Brydon, Tim Minchin and Marcus Brigstocke, plus Ruby Wax talks about spending time in The Priory. However, the last word goes to Stephen Fry who closes the festival, and is also judging the Hay Festival’s twitter contest. Stephen Fry will choose the ‘most beautiful tweet’ for the award.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016