Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Hay Festival

I used my most recent long weekend to fulfill a long-held wish: a trip to the Hay Festival in Wales. Once referred to as "the Woodstock of the mind" by Bill Clinton, the Hay Festival is a 10-day event of lectures, concerts, workshops, book signings, and other events held every year in Hay-on-Wye, a sleepy little town on the Welsh/English border. Known as "the town of books," Hay has dozens of secondhand and antiquarian bookshops, and its population increases 40-fold at festival time as the hordes of bibliophiles descend. This year I was one of them.

It was pretty much Meredith heaven. Some of the big-name events were already sold out by the time I got my tickets, but I still managed to see great speakers on topics as varied as Jane Austen, oscillating chemical reactions, an Indian princess suffragette, medieval Arab folktales, and improv Mary Poppins. And in between there were gourmet organic fair-trade food trucks, a whole town of bookstores full of treasures to peruse, and everywhere people reading and talking about books. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more. And the weather was unusually obliging for Wales, which helped.

The two days I could be there were not nearly enough, not by a long shot. And as much as I'd love to become one of the devotees who goes to the festival every year, it would be a bit of a hike from Addis. But at least I got to go have the experience while I'm more or less in the neighborhood, and now I have a fat stack of exciting new books to read to keep the joy going for another couple of months. I'm so glad I went.

1 comment:

  1. We visited Hay-on-Wye when we hiked in Wales. It was our rest day mid-hike. We had such a good time there! Bought a couple of gorgeous old maps.