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Hay Festival

Books – and a celebrated summer festival – have put little ol’ Hay on Wye on the world map. Straddling the border between Wales and England, this town of just 2,000 inhabitants is a genuine one-off.  It’s well worth taking a look between Hay’s covers and delving further into the story – you’ll find more than just books.

Hay-on-Wye is more than just a town; it's a destination for the curious, the creative, and the adventurous. Whether you're attending the Hay Festival, exploring its historic streets, or simply browsing its bookshops, Hay-on-Wye offers a truly unforgettable experience. So come, wander its winding lanes, and discover the magic of this literary paradise for yourself.

The Hay Festival: A Celebration of Ideas

The Hay Festival is renowned worldwide as a gathering of minds, a celebration of literature, ideas, and culture. Writers, thinkers, and artists from every corner of the globe converge upon this small Welsh town to share their insights, engage in thought-provoking discussions, and inspire audiences with their creativity. From author talks to poetry readings, panel discussions to musical performances, the festival offers a diverse array of events to captivate audiences of all interests.

What makes the Hay Festival truly unique is its setting. Hay-on-Wye, often affectionately referred to as the "Town of Books," is a haven for bibliophiles. Its charming streets are lined with bookshops, cafes, and galleries, creating an atmosphere that is both enchanting and inviting. Visitors can wander through the town's maze of literary treasures, discovering everything from rare first editions to beloved classics.

But the Hay Festival isn't confined to indoor venues; it embraces the natural beauty of its surroundings. Events are held in outdoor venues, including marquees and open-air stages, allowing attendees to immerse themselves in the stunning scenery of the Welsh countryside while engaging in lively discussions and performances.

The Town of Books

Hay-on-Wye isn't just a festival destination—it's a destination for book lovers year-round. With its plethora of bookshops, ranging from quaint independent stores to sprawling literary emporiums, the town offers something for every reader. Whether you're searching for a rare collectable or simply browsing for your next favourite read, Hay-on-Wye has it all. 

But books are just the beginning of what Hay-on-Wye has to offer. The town's vibrant community of artisans and entrepreneurs has transformed it into a hub of creativity and innovation. From antique shops to art galleries, vintage boutiques to speciality cafes, there's always something new to discover around every corner.

Come Hungry 

Whether you're a foodie on the hunt for your next culinary adventure or simply seeking a delicious meal to fuel your exploration of Hay-on-Wye's literary treasures, you'll find plenty to tempt your taste buds in this charming town. So come hungry and prepare to embark on a culinary journey that's sure to delight and satisfy. From cosy cafes to gourmet restaurants, this small town boasts a culinary scene that punches well above its weight.

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at one of Hay-on-Wye's charming cafes, where you can indulge in freshly baked pastries, artisanal coffee, and farm-fresh eggs. Whether you prefer a cosy corner spot or a bustling outdoor terrace, you'll find plenty of options to kickstart your morning in style.

For lunch, venture out to one of the town's quaint eateries, where you can sample locally sourced ingredients transformed into delectable dishes. From hearty soups and sandwiches to creative salads and small plates, there's no shortage of culinary delights to tantalise your taste buds.

As evening falls, treat yourself to a memorable dining experience at one of Hay-on-Wye's acclaimed restaurants. From cosy bistros serving up classic comfort food to fine dining establishments showcasing innovative cuisine, you'll find plenty of options to suit every mood and occasion.

And let's not forget about dessert! Indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to one of Hay-on-Wye's artisanal bakeries or ice cream shops, where you can savour homemade treats and decadent delights that will leave you craving more.

Embracing Change

Hay-on-Wye's journey from rural border town to a thriving cultural hotspot is a testament to the power of reinvention. Thanks to visionaries like Richard Booth, the self-proclaimed "King of Hay," the town has embraced its literary heritage and transformed itself into a destination for creatives and adventurers alike.

Today, Hay-on-Wye is a vibrant community that celebrates its past while looking towards the future. Its historic landmarks, such as Hay Castle, have been lovingly restored, breathing new life into the town's rich architectural heritage. Meanwhile, its bustling streets are filled with the energy of locals and visitors alike, united by their love of drama and a passion for exploration.

Exploring Hay-on-Wye

Here’s just some of what you can buy in a shopping trip in Hay-on-Wye: wheelbarrows, chandeliers, old maps, faux Louis XV furniture, fertiliser, vintage clothes, ‘60s LPs, stuffed animals, art (all sorts), in-vogue fashions, wellies, New Age crystals, tin baths, tin cars, rocking horses, rucksacks, ceramics, antique bikes, Barbour jackets, guitars, Welsh lavender … oh, and books.


A visit to Hay-on-Wye is an adventure in itself. Start your day at the Hay Butter Market, where you can browse stalls selling everything from local produce to handmade crafts. Then, explore the historic walls of Hay Castle, now a centre for arts, culture, and learning. Next, immerse yourself in the town's literary landscape by visiting its many bookshops. From cosy independent stores to grandiose book emporiums, there's no shortage of literary treasures to discover. Be sure to stop by The Globe at Hay, a charming venue for live performances and creative expression.

Afterwards, take a leisurely stroll along the riverside path, where you can soak in the natural beauty of the Wye Valley. Along the way, you'll encounter wooden sculptures and hidden gems, offering a glimpse into the town's rich natural heritage.

Finally, end your day with a visit to the Hay Craft Centre, where you can peruse a variety of shops and galleries showcasing local artisans and their work. From handcrafted jewellery to unique gifts, you're sure to find a souvenir to remember your time in Hay-on-Wye.


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