It’s day one of the 25th Hay Festival and we thought we would share our thoughts and experience on how to get the most out of the event whether you are a day tripper or you are in residence for the full 10 days.
1. Book early – book often
Select some key events and book ahead (OK I’m a little late with this advice) and allow for some serendipitous choices too. Many of my favourite Hay experiences have been chosen on the fly.
2. Footwear choices
When it rains at Hay it may not reach Glastonbury or, despite what Clinton experienced, Woodstock mud levels but when there’s a downpour, the walkways around the site can get wet and the sections in between get muddy quickly. So wellies or walking boots for the wet and comfortable shoes for all that walking around on dry days.
3. Make a beeline for the box office
Make it the first thing you do on arrival at the site and get there early to avoid the queues. Ask about returns for sold out tickets as they quite often have some.
Hay can feel like winter or summer this time of year and the effect is magnified because you’ll be outside a lot. The weather can change in a trice, as we’ve seen so many times at Hay so take a big bag and pack for every outcome.
5. Park and ride
There are good charity car parks in fields by the site but you should also consider parking in one of the car parks in or on around the town. You avoid site traffic and there are shuttle buses that take you to the site. On foot its a nice stroll and only takes 10 minutes.
6. Make time for Hay
Hay-on-Wye is world-famous for its secondhand bookshops. There are about thirty bookshops in the town, only one Pembertons sells new and they have a big shop on site. There are cafes, other interesting shops, don’t miss out. Update 30.5.13: Pembertons no longer runs the Festival bookshop, through there still is one and Booths also sells new books.
7. Eat when you are hungry
Don’t stick to meal times if you want to eat on site. Lunch time is incredibly busy especially at the weekends. It can be expensive too so make it a mid-week treat.
Listen to what people are saying in the Friends cafe, bars and out on the walk ways. You’ll get ideas about who to see. If you are a twitter user electronic eavesdropping using the hashtags #hayfestival or #hay25 is a good idea too.
9. Be ever vigilant.
One of the real beauties about the Hay Festival is that the writers, artists, politicians et al wander round the site. You might just see Peruvian Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa sharing a joke with Stephen Fry.
10. Buy a Book (or three)
If you like signed copies you are in monikered book heaven. If that doesn’t move you you should still buy something from Pembertons, find a deck chair and read it on site. There is nothing quite like looking up from text to see the author striding past.