Hay Festival still going ahead, says Florence

Hay Festival still going ahead, says Florence

The Hay Festival is still going ahead as planned in May despite concerns around the spread of coronavirus.

Organisers of the annual event, which runs from 21st May to 31st May in Wales, say they are keeping a close eye on the situation in the UK.

Festival director Peter Florence said: “As ever, the safety of our festival goers, speakers and staff is of paramount importance to us. We continue to monitor the situation closely and follow the best available advice from the chief medical officer. 

“We will inform festival goers immediately of any significant changes to our 2020 plans.”

The spread of COVID-19 has already seen the cancellation of the London Book Fair after a string of publishers pulled out. Other fairs have been cancelled around the world and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair has been postponed, with its future also in doubt and publishers cancelling their appearance.

However, in the UK, the government has so far decided not to move into the “delay” phase of its plans to deal with the virus. Such a move is expected to see large gatherings of people banned and more people being asked to work from home.

The Hay Festival’s main programme is due to be revealed at Easter but early-bird events already announced include appearances by Stephen Fry, Hilary Mantel, Ali Smith, Afua Hirsch and Jung Chang. 

Last week, the festival announced its programme for schools, which included events featuring Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, former Laureates Michael Rosen and Jacqueline Wilson, plus award-winning writers Akala, Patrice Lawrence, Mohammad Khan, Elizabeth Acevedo and Lucy Worsley.