Review of 'The Hay Festival 2022'

The Hay-on-Wye literary festival returns to the real world again in 2022 after having been virtual for the past few years to the pandemic. It was certainly very busy…

I have always wanted to visit the Hay Festival which has to be one the most famous if not the largest book festival in the world but I have always been put off by having to arrange both transport to and accommodation in Hay which is a tiny town with limited options available. So being virtual was a bit of a blessing for me as I managed to see a number of speakers without having to worry about the logistics. This year I am now living closer to Hay so it made the option of travelling down and returning on the same day actually viable so this is exactly what I did.


As always, the programme was absolutely amazing with literally hundreds of events over the two and a half weeks the festival was on. As I was travelling with another we had a look at the programme with my arranging a visit on a day when both of us had picked the most events. This worked out well and I was able to book the tickets. We drove down for these on the first Saturday of the show (which had started on Thursday), parked in pre-booked parking just beside the site to the south of Hay and attended our events with a brief walk into town to visit the “Hay Cinema” bookstore which is one of my favourite before having to return to the site. There is a free shuttle to and from the middle of town but it never seemed to be around when we needed it.


We attended the following talks:

  • Greg Jenner in conversation (1pm) - Greg Jenner is a popular podcaster and historian who decided to ask his audience for questions he would answer in his book “Ask a Historian”. He ended up getting a large number of submissions, taking the most unusual questions then researching and presenting what he found in the book. He was fascinating and took a few questions from the audience that he was happy to answer.
  • Thomasina Miers (4pm) - Thomasina Miers is one of the founders of UK Mexican chain “Wahaca” and was here talking about her latest book “Meat-Free Mexican”. She is a very interesting person with thoughts about a number of things that stretch well beyond cooking and food, into the core of what we value in society.
  • Matthew Williams talks to Rachel Clarke (7pm) - Mr. Williams is criminologist and Director of Cardiff University’s pioneering HateLab who talked about “The Science of Hate” which, while disturbing, was quite insightful. He was unable to attend in person so was interviewed via Zoom but managed to get his points across quite clearly emphasizing that there is always a reason for hate and it is possible for people to stop hating.

None of these events were exactly “light” in their content but were extraordinarily interesting with the speakers all amazing to listen to. Though ostensibly they were there to talk about their books they all talked on a wide range of topics and engaged quite well with the audience. I think that is what Hay does best: Engages the mind. It is more an IDEA festival than a BOOK festival with books merely the spark for intriguing talks.

Dining Options

For each event we had to scan our own tickets (which had to be printed) then queued outside of whatever tent the event was held in (all were signposted and easy to find). “Friends of Hay” had a separate queue and were able to enter the venue first but there was never a real issue finding good seats and we generally sat in the first 10 or so rows in the middle – Perfect to hear and see what was going on.


I will most definitely look at attending again next year, perhaps for longer and staying locally if at all possible. It was unfortunate we were not able to visit the town more as I understand there was a lot going on and it was all decorated for the occasion. I have not even seen the newly renovated castle that dominates the town.

Hay Sign

I will be back.


Rating: “Nearly perfect, but not quite”

Review Date: 2022-05-28


Location: Hay-on-Wye (Wales)

Address: The Hay Festival, Dairy Meadows, Brecon Road, Hay on Wye HR3 5PJ WALES

Telephone: +44 (0) 1497 822 629


The Hay Festival site is just south the town with large amounts of parking available in nearby fields. Entrance to the site is free with toilets, a book store (obvs), and a number of crowded-in street food stalls (serving mostly vegetarian options, at least in 2022, with not a lot of seating best option is to take it away to another part of site and sit there instead). Events are held in tents connected by covered walkways on site with copious amounts of deck chair seating in grassy areas throughout.