The Hay Festival of Literature and Arts was devised in 1988 by Peter Florence and his parents Norman and Rhonda in the small town of Hay-on-Wye. The town of Hay is situated on the Welsh/Herefordshire boarder carries the nickname “The Town of Books” because of the many bookshops you will find situated within the town, the Hay Festival itself has grown somewhat since its inception and now stretches through Spain, Mexico, Peru and Columbia. In 2001 Bill Clinton described the festival as “the Woodstock of the mind”.
There are 800+ events and talks over the 11days on every subject from Architecture to Fashion, Photography to Politics, Equality, Religion and Travel, this year guest speakers included Festival regulars Stephen Fry and Jo Brand, while Jimmy Carr brought his stand-up comedy. You can also find several workshops and readings. The Hay festival attracts crowds of all ages and backgrounds and the thousands that attend the town need feeding, the Festival itself boasts a food hall consisting of “the Best Burger in the World” from the Beefy Boys, Buon Gusto Pizza, The Vegan Veggie Fritter Shack, Squid Inc. The Toastie co. Paella & Chorizo, Yellow Turban Thali, Meat and Greek and several cake and coffee stands. As you venture away from the Festival site, the locals sell, Ice Creams, Welsh Cakes, Coffees and Local Cider from their gardens. There are houses that entice you in with Moroccan offerings of teas, salads and soups where you can also pick up a rug or some slippers.
The town itself comes alive as people pour on to the street from Coffee shops and restaurants with outside eating found everywhere, the castle opens it grounds up to a Street Food Market and the pubs and hotels promote exclusive festival menus to help get you in, fed and on to the next event as quickly as possible while giving you the best produce the area has to offer.
With the influx of people to the small market town and the pubs and restaurants bursting with new customers, venues will often seek additional support. Over the years Jubilee has supported with short term, temporary agency chefs to relieve the pressure on the kitchens doing this busy two week period.
This is a Festival that really has something for everybody, live music, comedy, talks on every subject imaginable and of course great food.