Review of 'The Hay Festival 2023'


This year I attended the Hay Festival with my wife in two separate visits, the first a day trip for us on May 26th then the second a two-day trip on June 1st and 2nd where we stayed in a yurt despite the weather being a bit cool…

Posing in Front of the Hay Sign



As always, the facilities were impeccable and the event very well organized. This year there was a large dining tent now containing a number of fast-food vendors selling everything from Indian to Fish and Chips to Burgers with many vegetarian options (and, handy for us, many also served breakfast). Helpfully, there always seemed to be seating with a large number of picnic tables available for use which were also continually cleared. Food was not cheap but generally good quality with at least one stall not accepting bank/credit cards causing a bit of a problem though the on-site ATM machines that actually had a REAL bank teller occasionally in attendance, no less, offered a welcome solution.

Dining Hall

There were several other higher-end dining options on site as well as several coffee and ice cream stalls (though the former seemed to always have queues).

Book Shop

The bookstore, as always, was at the end of the site (near the Baille Gifford stage) and a short distance away was the always popular Oxfam book stall.

Shuttle buses operated between the festival site and the centre of Hay for £5/day while (official) parking was in a field adjacent to the site. Walking into town was, as always, quite simple with the path clearly signposted from the main entrance and a temporary pedestrian crossing signal in place.


During the festival we attended the following talks:

  • (May 26th) Alexander McCall Smith Talks to Kirsty Lang “The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency at 50” - This discussion was regarding Smith's long-running “No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency” but did also include discussions of his other works. It was great to hear him re-iterate his philosophy of writing feel-good books as he feels so often we only read about negative things…

Alexander McCall Smith

  • (June 1st) Adam Frost Talks to Kitty Corrigan “How I Garden” - A light chat about soft-spoken Adam Frost's traumatic life leading to his current fame as presenter on BBC's “Gardener's World”.

Adam Frost

  • (June 1st) Andi Oliver “The Pepperpot Diaries: Stories from my Caribbean Table” - Andi here did a bit of a cooking demonstration (with many in the audience quite keen on trying the samples) but talked also of her being “stranded” in Antiqua during lock down.

Andi Oliver

  • (June 1st) Margaret Atwood “Old Babes in the Wood” - An amazing interview with the ever witty and prescient Margaret Atwood that did actually talk about the book once or twice but otherwise touched on her thinking and life.

Margaret Atwood

  • (June 1st) Prue Leith “Nothing in Moderation” - This late night talk on the Baille Gifford stage (the largest) was presented very much like a stand-up comic with Prue delivering a talk about her rather busy life while walking around the stage complete with slide show (it was the last show in a tour she has been taking around the country).

Prue Leith

  • (June 2nd) Sarah Chambers “How Safe do you Feel?” - This was a presentation of the findings of the recent “World Risk Poll” by Sarah Cumbers, director of evidence and insight at Lloyd’s Register Foundation. An interesting insight into how society measures risk and the risks the world faces today.

Sarah Chambers


As always, accommodation continues to be an issue. We were lucky to be able to find a yurt on the opposite side of the town (across the road from the Co-Op supermarket) that had been primarily used for the How the Light Gets In (Hay) festival in the first week the Hay Festival was on.

Our "Superior" Yurt


Another wonderful year at the Hay Festival where, despite the cool temperatures, was quite sunny and very well attended.

Enjoying Ourselves

Rating: “I have absolutely no complaints”

Review Date: 2023-06-11


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.