Armed police patrol the Hay Festival site

By Twm Owen in Local People

The reality of the increased security at the Hay Festival is apparent with armed police on patrol.

The 10-day festival opened yesterday, as the Dairy Meadows site in Hay-on-Wye welcomed thousands of schoolchildren for a day of events, and featured a headline performance by comic Eddie Izzard.

But with the UK terror threat level raised to critical, meaning an attack is feared imminent, Dyfed-Powys Police has deployed armed officers to the festival site.

The smiling officers, carrying sub-machine guns, have caused visitors used to the sedate pace of the festival to take a second look.

The festival has asked visitors to allow extra time for arrival at the festival site and not to bring large bags or rucksacks.

Searches are being carried out at the entrance to the site which is free for members of the public to attend, including those who haven’t got tickets for events.

Festival organisers said security has been beefed up following the murder of 22 people, including children, at a concert by US star Ariana Grande at the Manchester Arena.

A spokesman said: "In the light of the Manchester attack we are increasing security provision to ensure that our guests can enjoy the freedoms we celebrate at the festival.

"The measures will include increased site staffing and police presence, bag searches and structural changes to the entrance to the festival site. We will continue to work closely in partnership with local and national law enforcement services to enable and sustain the values of open-ness and hospitality."

Highlights at the festival today, which also includes a day of events aimed at secondary school pupils, include an appearance by former deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. The politician’s wife, Miriam Gonzalez Durantez, is also appearing at the festival to discuss Spanish cooking and in a separate talk the EU.

Former Olympic track cycling champion Chris Boardman will also be at the festival as will Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood who will join a panel, including playwright Bonnie Greer, to discuss the 50th anniversary of the May Day Manifesto that reflected the disillusionment on the left with the Labour Party.

Musical entertainment tonight includes a concert by Scottish singer-songwriter Amy Macdonald and a DJ set, at Baskerville Hall, by legendary DJ and dance music pioneer Norman Jay.

People are also being asked to report anything suspicious to stewards or festival staff.