Hay Festival has announced 29 earlybird events for its next UK edition, 23 May-2 June 2024, offering a promise of fresh thinking, dynamic performances, and diverse voices accessible to all. 

Earlybird event tickets are on sale now to Friends of Hay Festival at hayfestival.org/wales and go on general release at 12noon, Friday 1 December. 

Now in its 37th year, Hay Festival 2024 merges world-class storytellers, influential thinkers, new voices, dynamic entertainers, adventurous explorers and bold creators in conversations, performances, workshops, interactive activities, and signings for all ages.

Events will take place at the free-to-enter Festival village beneath the Black Mountains, where a range of pop-ups, including the Festival Bookshop, a host of exhibitors and market stalls, cafés and restaurants, and family area, offer opportunities to explore and get creative.

Hay Festival CEO Julie Finch said: “Here is a preview of next spring’s Hay Festival programme, offering a taster of the ideas we will explore and interrogate together, alongside a joyful dose of entertainment and play. Hay Festival 2024 will offer audiences a break from the day-to-day, a space for everyone to explore their creativity and let their imaginations roam. Our free-to-enter site will be stacked with activities for everyone to engage with, while unexpected collaborations and new partnerships will bring Festival content to more people than ever before. Tell your friends and we’ll see you there.”

Novelist Marlon James said: “I am honored to join the Hay Festival 2024 programme. What an amazing opportunity to be surrounded by books, the people who write them, and the people who love them. See you there!”

Poet Hollie McNish said: “I’m so thrilled to be appearing at Hay Festival 2024 as part of my new book tour. It’s a gorgeous place to go; to learn, to chat, to eat and drink and listen. What a treat of a town and a treat of a gig. I’m excited to choose what other events to go to after my own!”

Former MP and podcaster Rory Stewart said: “I am so excited to be coming back to Hay Festival. I have enjoyed it for many years and find it one of the most intelligent, engaged thoughtful audiences in the world. In fact, it’s one of the only literary festivals that I still go to. I’m really looking forward to being able to broaden the conversation out from state of UK politics to the world ship, populism evolution of global conflict and to engage with questions.”

The full Hay Festival 2024 programme of more than 700 events will be revealed in early spring. 

Award-winning novelists share new work as Colm Tóibín talks Long Island, his sequel to Brooklyn; Jeanette Winterson offers chillingly contemporary stories of the supernatural from her latest collection, Ghost Stories: Night Side of the River; Marlon James marks ten years since the release of his Booker Prize-winning A Brief History of Seven Killings; Andrey Kurkov launches The Silver Bone; The Reverend Richard Coles presents the third novel in his Canon Clement Mystery series, Murder at the Monastery; and comedian Sara Pascoe launches her new novel, Weirdo. 

Our fast-changing world comes under examination as author, columnist and environmental campaigner George Monbiot talks The Invisible Doctrine: The Secret History of Neoliberalism (& How It Came to Control Your Life); Professor of Politics at Cambridge University David Runciman talks The Handover: How We Gave Control of our Lives to Corporations, States and AIs; economist Dharshini David shares Environomics: How the Green Economy is Transforming Your World; former Conservative Cabinet minister and co-presenter of The Rest is Politics podcast Rory Stewart offers an insider's account of ten extraordinary years in Parliament with Politics On the Edge; Shadow Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Wes Streeting talks One Boy, Two Bills and a Fry Up; journalist Misha Glenny asks the EU’s former Vice-President, Catherine Ashton, and the political scientist, Ivan Krastev, whether Europe can weather the approaching storms. 

Young imaginations are sparked through an expanded programme for families that sees much-loved author, comedian and actor Lenny Henry share his new children’s book The Clash of the Superkids with theatre maker, MC and recording artist Mic Lord; historian and broadcaster Alice Roberts offer her epic new prehistoric children’s novel, Wolf Road; and scientist Robert Winston share his journey through human history, The Story of Science.

What it means to live well is explored as River Cottage author Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (How to Eat 30 Plants a Week) talks to Professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London Tim Spector (Food for Life); Nobel Prize-winning biologist and former president of the Royal Society Venki Ramakrishnan talks Why We Die: The New Science of Ageing and the Quest for Immortality with broadcaster Adam Rutherford; botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer shares Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants with farmer and author James Rebanks; host of The Repair Shop Jay Blades shares Life Lessons; and laughter cures all with a set from Julian Clary.

Rhymes and rhythms shake the Festival stages as poet Jackie Kay reflects on several decades of political activism, sharing her new collection May Day; Hollie McNish shares Lobster: and other things I’m learning to love; DJ Huw Stephens launches his new book Wales: A Hundred Records in conversation with Welsh-Jamaican reggae artist and presenter Aleighcia Scott; while Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra perform.

Historians draw on the past to bring us lessons for today as Bettany Hughes talks The Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; presenter of The Rest is History podcast Tom Holland shares Pax: War and Peace in Rome's Golden Age; while lawyer Philippe Sands joins writers Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Selva Almada to launch Explorers, Dreamers and Thieves, a new collaboration between Hay Festival and the Santo Domingo Centre of Excellence for Latin American Research at the British Museum, published by Charco Press in May 2024.

Two free Programme for Schools days open proceedings on Thursday 23 May (KS1/2) and Friday 24 May (KS3/4), blending live performance, workshops and storytelling in specially curated sessions, while a range of education initiatives – Hay Academy and Hay Festival Scribblers Tours – will engage thousands.

A curated selection of Festival sessions will be streamed live online throughout the 2024 event, with the Online Festival Pass on sale in March, continuing the Festival’s commitment to digital accessibility. 

Community partnerships with The Family Place, Hereford Community Foundation, Reaching Wider, and more will make this one of the most accessible Festival editions yet with targeted projects to attract harder-to-reach communities, while a plethora of new sustainability measures will help to tackle the environmental impacts of running a festival. 

Winners of the Hay Festival Medals 2024 will be celebrated on stage. Awarded annually since Britain’s Olympic year (2012), and crafted locally by silversmith Christopher Hamilton, the Hay Festival Medals draw inspiration from the original Olympic medal given for poetry. Past winners include Margaret Atwood, Alice Oseman, Salman Rushdie, John le Carré, Mererid Hopwood and Ahdaf Soueif.

While the countdown to Hay Festival in Wales is just beginning, Festival events further afield are already in full swing. In January, there are Hay Festival editions in Jericó, Medellín and Cartagena, Colombia, and Panama City, followed by Hay Forum Seville in Spain next March. Closer to home, Hay Festival Scribblers Tour takes writers direct to schools across Wales in free events, January and February.