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The Hay Literary Festival kicks off today in Wales

21st May 2009

Britains biggest book festival begins today in the border town of Hay on Wye in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Each day, between 40 and 50 different sessions take place with an amazing selection of people speaking on topics from climate change and sustainability to the future of the world economy, and performing stand up to describing epic adventures across the Antarctic.

Some of the big names include, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Stephen Fry and Former EU Commissioner, Governor of Hong Kong and now co-Chair of the International Crisis Group, Chris Patten. 

On Saturday, the culinary Alchemist and owner of the Fat Duck at Bray, Heston Blumenthal will talk to the Observer restaurant critic Jay Rayner.

Next Thursday, John Micklethwait will explore the many aspects of society that have helped spark a global religious revival. The session will be chaired by Sarfraz Manzoor.

In between, James Cracknell and Ben Fogle will regale the audience with their adrenaline fuelled race to the South Pole, David Starkey will reappraise the early life of Britain's most enduring and radical icon Henry VIII, and Sir David Frost, the peerless satirist and political interviewer talks to Peter Florence.

Paddy Ashdown will give the WMD Awareness Lecture on Monday, entitled Ashdown's Third Law (or why the world will never be the same again and what we should do about it), Willie Harcourt Cooze, entrepreneur, chocolate evangalist and star of Willie's Wonky Chocolate Factory, shares his love of chocolate.

On Wednesday Dylan Moran will perform his one man show, and the new poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy speaks to Gillian Clarke.  

This is just a small insight into some of the great speakers who will be appearing at the festival until the 31st May. If you get a chance to go - grab it! For more information and to download the complete programme, check out the Hay Festival website. Click here to be redirected.

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