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The World comes to Hay on Wye

by Andrew Williams | May 14, 2013

It's that time of year when the good people of Hay brace themselves for the imminent arrival of several thousand culture vultures eager to swoop down on the literary delights of the Hay Festival. This is our first year as full time residents and business owners in Hay and while we're sympathetic to those who moan about parking, queues in the cafes and empty cashpoints, we have to say we're hugely excited about the 10 days ahead. As a business we hope to meet lots of visitors who are interested in the cool fair trade items we sell, but as residents we feel totally spoiled to have such amazing delights on our doorstep. 

Everyone will have different highlights, but here are just a few of mine. Top of my list is a recital and talk from renowned composer and pianist Philip Glass. Let's hope it's not too windy in the big tent for his solo performance. Continuing the music theme I have several other sessions featuring rock heroes - Sarfraz Manzoor talking about Bruce Springsteen, and then later interviewing New Order legend Peter Hook. There's also a special screening of "Good Vibrations," the new film charting the rise of the Undertones and others in Northern Ireland, followed by a Q&A with the directors. 

I'm going to several sessions looking at sustainability and associated issues around trade and the environment, a subject which is naturally close to our hearts. I'm particularly excited to see Andrew Simms talk about his new book "Cancel the Apocalypse" which is essential reading for anyone who thinks there must be a better way to run our little planet. BBC economics editor Stephanie Flanders will be giving us an inside view on the current financial climate, and Rob Hopkins, founder of the Transition Towns network will be giving another perspective on local alternatives. 

Then there are the events which focus on our relationship with Hay on Wye's twin town, Timbuktu in Mali. As well as musical performances from Amadou & Mariam, Rokia Traore and Terakaft, there's also a special session led by Hay 2 Timbuktu analysing the current situation in the troubled north African town. 

And these are just the sessions that we're going to! And I haven't even mentioned the excellent How the Light Gets In festival at the Globe, where such delights as Stealing Sheep, Tom Rosenthal and Andrew Weatherall await us. 

It's almost too much to take in, but we feel truly honoured to have such a line up on our doorstep. Come 3rd of June we hope to be tired, exhilarated and uplifted, hopefully with a lot less stock, but just as importantly with a lot of new friends and some amazing memories of 10 days of cultural overload.     

Tagged: 2013, hay festival, hay on wye