Taking the family to The Hay Festival
If you think your children won’t jump with joy at the thought of spending a few days at a literary festival in Wales, don’t tell them. We didn’t. We said we were going camping with friends in Hay-on-Wye, which was true, and our plan was then to venture out to a few events at the festival. Luckily for us, it worked! We didn’t book back-to-back talks for them, just chose ones that we thought they’d enjoy – and they did. They hooted with laughter at Michael Rosen re-enacting his popular poems, and at Tony Robinson recounting the worst jobs for children in history; sat rapt as Judith Kerr talked with great verve about her memories of dull schooldays, and how she now uses google images to help inspire her illustrations; In between talks, we queued for the amazing array of flavours of sheep’s milk ice-cream on offer at Shepherds , or settled down in the craft tent where children are free to create whatever they like with endless supplies of art materials. I think we ended up with two mini Tardis and a Dalek; we even managed to spy Chris Riddell sketching for a small audience.
Whilst the setting is visually quintessentially British, with plenty of bunting, Pimm’s and a well stocked bookshop, the festival’s content is definitely global, with a diverse range of authors and speakers from around the world. The food hall doesn’t disappoint either – though head there early as this is where the longest queues are to be found, and you can sample authentic street food from Falafel Mama, Squid Inc, Soulfood Kitchen and Yellow Turban Thali, to name a few.
Another pleasant surprise was that it didn’t actually rain. Yes the sun shone brightly all week, so our campsite outdoors@hay proved to be a heavenly little patch to hang out in, and only a five minute walk down cow parsley filled country lanes to the festival. A pop-up pub meant that the camping stove didn’t really get a look in. Not a typical camping holiday at all really. Fingers crossed for no rain again this year, as we’re busy planning a return trip.