Hay Festival goes digital after cancellation due to coronavirus

Hay Festival goes digital after cancellation due to coronavirus

Hay Festival wil hold its first fully digital edition following the cancellation of this year's main event.

The festival was called off last month due to the coronavirus fallout, and organisers launched a crowdfunding campaign to help cover infrastructure outlay, which totalled nearly £96,000 before its cancellation.

Throughout May, the first fully digital Hay Festival will take place online, bringing writers and readers together in webinars, workshops and live social media Q&As. Featuring highlights from the now cancelled spring edition, including a live Programme for Schools, the full schedule of events will be revealed soon, and interest can be registered on the Hay website.

Organisers have now launched a Hay Festival Podcast giving free access to conversations with writers and thinkers from Hay Festival events globally, supported by investment management firm Baillie Gifford. Series one kicks off with Hay Festival president Stephen Fry in conversation with Philippe Sands, while upcoming guests include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Hilary Mantel, Naomi Klein, Caitlin Moran and more. 

Hay Player also offers full digital access to the full festival archive of video and audio from the past 33 years, with new guest curations and themed playlists from festival writers and performers. Users can sign up for a one-year subscription for £10 online.

Film from the festival’s Programme for Schools events for Key Stage 2,3 and 4 pupils is now also available for free. Co-funded by the Welsh government, the free films offer teachers and families the chance to enjoy sessions featuring Cressida Cowell, Julian Clary, David Baddiel, Ade Adepitan, Patrice Lawrence and more, along with detailed teaching materials for those learning at home. 

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said: “We are humbled and amazed at the support we’ve had over the past three weeks, and we are committed to bringing the festival to people in their own homes in new digital ways. It’s going to be a while before we can all gather together again in our green field. Until then we’ll be here online, with stories and ideas and a conversation that we want everyone to be able to join.”

Donations to the festival can still be made online