Hay on Wye | Powys | Events | Accommodation | Things to Do
Hay on Wye is famous the world over for its Literary Festival, but it has pleanty to offer during the rest of the year. Like many border towns the history of Hay dates back to the 13th century Norman castle that was built on the banks of the River Wye. The castle endured a difficult couple of centuries under the rule of a succession of notorious Norman families before being damaged by the Glyndwr rebellion in 1401. In the 17th century the castle was converted into a manor house by James Boyle of Hereford and today is open to the public as a second hand bookshop. HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival takes place in May/June.
The identity of Hay on Wye as a mecca for book lovers was established in 1977 when local bookshop owner Richard Booth declared it as an independent kingdom and nominated himself as monarch. Many credit Booth with creating the publicity that allowed the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts to take off in 1988. The Daily Telegraph sponsored event now attracts more than 80,000 visitors and is internationally famous as the world’s biggest Literary Festival, prompting Hay enthusiast Bill Clinton to label it the ‘Woodstock of the mind’ in 2001. The festival attracts huge names from every cultural sector and incorporates exhibitions, music events, film previews, stand-up comedy – and since 2009 has integrated the Brecon Jazz Festival into its busy programme. The rest of the year Hay is home to over 30 second hand and specialist book shops, many of which are regularly regarded as being the finest in Britain.
Hay is also on the eastern edge of the breath taking Brecon Beacons National Park and within easy reach of the annual Green Man festival.