On the Wales side of the England-Wales border lies the small town of Hay-on-Wye. But this little town in the in the Black Mountains of Brecon Beacons National Park, where on Tuesdays many of the shops close at midday, has a unique reputation.
This place is a readers paradise. Where else do you find a town of 1,500 people that supports around thirty used bookstores? And of course they have a library. But as the pitchman says, ‘but wait, there is more.’ Every year, and in 2014, it will be from May 22nd to June 1st, this little village that can, hosts a literary festival of the arts and people from all over the world descend on Hay-On-Wye to the tune of over 85,000 literature and arts lovers.
To quote from their website: “The programme of some five hundred events takes place in the tented festival village during the spring bank half term holiday. Writers, politicians, poets, scientists, comedians, philosophers and musicians come together on the greenfield site to talk, eat, think, drink and be merry.”
In case you missed the first part of the quote-500 events in 10 days. I get the feeling every one of the 1,500 citizens participates in some way to stage 500 events for 85,000 people over ten days. Now you know why former president, Bill Clinton called this town “The Woodstock of the mind?” It obviously has nothing to do with a hemp fest.
Since 85,000 people come to a town of 1,500 it is wise, beginning in February, to go to their website and begin booking tickets and use their ‘bedfinder’ service to locate accommodations for you. But wait there is more.
Hay-on-Wye which has been running this festival for 26 years also runs 10 other festivals around the world in places like Cartagena, Beirut, Dhaka, and Nairobi. And they also host a winter festival. In fact this town always seems to have something going. The festivals have to do with arts, society, culture, a place for intellectuals, arts lovers, political thinkers, truly a ‘Woodstock of the mind.’ This town goes onto my short bucket list.
Here is a link to the towns website for you to explore. It has websites within websites. http://www.hay-on-wye.com/default.asp