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Hay Festival 2024 travel guide: Best things to do and hotels

Simon Calder’s Travel

The town of Hay-on-Wye is bracing for a crowd of book lovers to descend on the Powys community for the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts later this May.

Celebrating creativity, literature, writing and words, the second hand-book capital of the world is set to host the annual Hay Festival for the 36th year.

For 2024, guest speakers include novelists Colm Tóibín and Jeanette Winterson, actor Lenny Henry, and comedians Julian Clary and Sara Pascoe. Gary Lineker, Dame Judi Dench, Miriam Margolyes and Stephen Fry are also all set to pop up in Britain’s leading town of literature during the 11-day gathering.

Dame Judi Dench, Miriam Margolyes and Stephen Fry will talk at the 2024 Hay Festival (Sam Hardwick)

This year’s programme is bursting with over 600 events – there are eight stages in the free-to-enter Dairy Meadows festival site, performances all week at St Mary’s Church and even the festival’s first-ever Sports Day.

Aside from flipping pages, catching a stand-up set and getting crafty with the kids, there’s plenty of outdoor adventures, plates of local produce and, of course, bookshops to browse in historic Hay-on-Wye.

Here’s everything you need to know about where to stay, how to get there and what to do when the chapter ends for bibliophiles headed to the Hay Festival.

Read more on UK travel:

When is Hay Festival 2024?

This year’s edition of the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts spans 11 days, from 23 May to 2 June, and tickets are available to book at

The best of bookshops

Fiction, non-fiction and children’s books stock shelves across Hay-on-Wye (Sam Hardwick)

Richard Booth’s

The creator of Hay as we know it – a beloved town of books – is immortalised in his own Richard Booth’s Bookshop. Booth opened his first bookshop in Hay-on-Wye in 1961, and his love of second-hand literature led to the establishment of the Hay Festival of Literature and Arts by Peter Florence in 1988.

The Poetry Bookshop

Open since 1979, The Poetry Bookshop houses the “most comprehensive” selection of new, second-hand and antiquarian poetry in the UK and is a top hit with lovers of stanzas by John Keats, William Wordsworth and Carol Ann Duffy.

North Books

Newcomer North Books on Castle Street hosts author events, book clubs and craft groups, and is bursting with nooks for reading. They also hold…

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