First Confirmed Names for Hay Festival 2012

Here’s a our first short list of confirmed names for the 2012 Hay Festival.  Simon Callow was announced on the official Twitter on Boxing day and both Hilary Mantel and Tim Minchin are on sale on the official Hay site.  We’ve already mentioned the singing duo Paper Aeroplanes on this blog.  We can’t absolutely guarantee that the others on this list will be threre, but we are fairly sure we are right.  More official announcements are on their way at the end of the week.
  • Simon Callow
  • Jeremy Cooper
  • Rolf Heuer
  • John Lewis-Stempel
  • Hilary Mantel
  • Tim Minchin
  • Paper Aeroplanes (band)
  • Jon Snow

New Music Venue for 2012 Hay Festival

Hay will have a new music venue for the 2012 Festival. The venue will be near the town centre at the Castle ground, the site occupied in recent years by Giffords Circus.  The site has been used to host a tented venue by the festival before, but hasn’t been used by the festival proper since it moved from the local primary school to the current site in Dairy Meadows a mile outside the town.

Whilst it is more famous for its literature the festival has seen major established musical acts perform as well ground-breaking performers. Bob Geldof, Laura Marling, Hot Chip, PJ Harvey, Toumani Diabate, Jools Holland and many more have appeared in recent years.

No musical performers have been officially announced for this year but we can tell you that Paper Aeroplanes, an alternative pop band from Wales who have been compared to Fleetwood Mac and The Cranberries, will be there.  There’s also a rumour that breakthrough British jazz singer Zara McFarlane might be on the bill.  Sadly the new venue means no Giffords Circus this time round.

Unbound sheds light on new way to publish

A publishing venture for the new age was unveiled yesterday in a purpose-built shed at the Hay Festival.  Unbound aims to connect writers with readers in new ways.

The Unbound web site hosts author’s ‘pitches’ for new books and if you like the idea, you can become a sponsor, when the target number of sponsors is reached the deal is done and the author can go ahead and start writing.  There are different levels of support, from simply pledging to buy an ebook through to tickets for the launch party and even lunch with the author. Sponsors also have access to the author’s private area of the website or ‘shed’ where there will be updates on the book’s progress and exclusive interviews.

The beautifully bound, limited edition hardback even comes printed with the sponsors names.  Several authors are already signed up including Terry Jones who is the first off the mark with a sponsor.  You can check out and even support the current projects on the Unbound site.

Naipaul and Theroux bury the past

A veil was drawn over an epic literary feud at the Hay Festival. Paul Theroux and VS Naipaul ceased hostilities with a handshake in the green room.

The rapprochement was brokered by Ian McEwan who encouraged Theroux to offer his hand to his erstwhile mentor and friend . “I miss you,”  said Theroux. Naipaul replied  “I miss you too”.

“We’ve finally spoken,” said Paul Theroux who had already expressed his enjoyment of the festival to a packed Hay audience. “I’ve had an experience today with a capital E.”  VS Naipaul, who also enjoyed a capacity audience told visitors “It was very nice to see him and I’m pleased things have worked out the way they have.”

Official – Julian Assange will speak at Hay

It always pays to keep an ear to the ground at Hay for recommendations and word of late additions to the programme. This years the rumour mill was grinding out speculation that Julian Assange would be holding court at some point.

The rumours it turns out are true. Assange will be holding a session entitled simply ‘Wikileaks’ next Saturday 4th June at 2.30pm on the Welsh stage.

My recommendation to the organisers is that they accompany him on route. I was taking to PR guru Mark Borkowski a couple of weeks ago who knows Assange well, who said that whilst Assange could navigate every corner of the internet he wouldn’t trust him to traverse the London underground.

Full Hay Festival 2011 Programme Now Live

The full programme has been published and is now available for friends of the Festival to book .  The Friends of Hay Festival was formed in 1988  and members fees fund the annual Friends Lecture.  In return they get priority booking, access to a Friends entrance at the main venues on site, a Friends Café at Hay and regular newsletters.  You can become a Friend by clicking here, it costs £20.

Notable additions to the programme not previously mentioned on this blog include:

  • Marcus du Sautoy
  • Richard Dannatt
  • Paul O’Grady
  • Rumer
  • Douglas Alexander
  • David Aaronovitch
  • Mary Warnock
  • Gilbert & George
  • David Bailey
  • AA Gill
  • Germaine Greer
  • Jon Ronson
  • Simon Hoggart

Friends can book tickets now by logging on to the official site here.

From Hobsbawm to Miliband and Lawson to Lowe

..we post a definitive list of the 40 names already confirmed for the 2011 Hay Festival.

  • Afro Celt Sound System.
  • Bjørn Lomborg
  • Brian Cox
  • Cerys Matthews
  • Chris Evans
  • Dara O’Briain
  • David Miliband
  • Dylan Jones
  • Eliza Carthy
  • Eoin Colfer
  • Eric Hobsbawm
  • Henning Mankell
  • Howard Jacobson
  • Hypnotic Brass Ensemble
  • Jacqueline Wilson
  • Jason Bradbury
  • Jean-Marie le Clezio
  • Jo Brand
  • Joan Bakewell
  • John Waters
  • Julia Hobsbawm
  • Ladysmith Black Mambazo
  • Malorie Blackman
  • Meg Rosoff
  • Mohamed El Baradei
  • Nigella Lawson
  • Owen Sheers
  • Paul Merton
  • Paul Nurse
  • Philip Pullman
  • Polly Samson
  • Rob Lowe
  • Rowan Williams
  • Sandi Toksvig
  • Sarah Brown
  • Simon Russell Beale
  • Simon Schama
  • Sue Perkins
  • Toby Harnden
  • Vanessa Redgrave
  • VS Naipaul

Early bird tickets for a handful of the acts are now on sale from the official site.

If you know of any other names attending drop us an e-mail at or message us on twitter.

Will the Telegraph Change the Hay Festival?

There are sponsorships that are made in heaven and the Guardian’s long running partnership with the Hay Festival was one of them.  Very quietly last October the Guardian swept out of Hay and the Telegraph was ushered in with a three year deal to attach their name to the now growing list of Festivals that have emerged from the small Brecon town and are encircling the globe in celebration of the arts.

So if the Festival couldn’t go to Segovia or Zacatecas without keeping the name Hay in the event title, can it remain true to itself with the Guardian moniker making way for the Telegraph?

Whilst the subject matter for the annual fest has emerged from the printed page and grown to encompass the performing arts there has always been a powerful political undercurrent during those 10 days in May.    In 2008 John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the UN and advisor to George Bush narrowly escaped an attempted citizen’s arrest for war crimes by writer and activist George Monbiot.  Last year the 2010 festival goers held their collective breath as they awaited news of the best-selling Swedish author Henning Mankell who instead of being at the festival was on board a the convoy of Gaza-bound boats stormed by Israeli forces.   The festival’s biggest draws have invariably been from the centre left, Vince Cable, Gore and Clinton, journalist John Pilger.   Miliband is a regular but I don’ think Cameron has ever been.

For a decade the only daily paper on sale at the site has been the Guardian and I’ve never heard a single complaint.  You couldn’t cite a more certain collection of Guardian readers than at Hay in May. Will it change?  It’s difficult to see how it can be avoided.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to Appear at Hay Festival

My guarantee to deliver fairness

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is the latest addition to an exciting programme at this year’s Hay Festival. The Liberal Democrat leader is a last-minute booking and he will appear on the last day of the festival, Sunday 6 June, discussing the new coalition government, the rule of law and constitutional reform with Philippe Sands.

Clegg is by no means the only politician appearing in the small Wesh town.  The former President of Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf (2001–2008) will discuss conflict and volatility in the region with Carey Schofield and Labour leadership candidate Ed   will be appearing on both the opening Saturday and Sunday of the festival.  Alastair Campbell will be there too.

Nick Clegg’s appearance will be his first public interview since taking office.