The Hay Festival Digital #ImagineTheWorld lineup has been announced to great fanfare, and includes a star-studded lineup of novelists, poets, economists, lawyers, scholars, diplomats, scientists, activists, actors and comedians. Festival Director Peter Florence mentions in this BBC News article that "We'll be welcoming readers from around the world into a digital party."
Hay Festival’s newsletter which came through to its ‘Haymakers’ this week featured a practical roundup of all the essential queries that audiences might have about joining this digital party– who’s attending and when? How do we sign up? Any swag/merch I should know about? And where do I get my books from? We’ve included the key info below:
Who’s attending and when?
The Festival technically kicks off on Monday 18 May with the Hay Festival Programme for Schools. It runs from 18-22 May and features Cressida Cowell, Patrice Lawrence, Onjali Q. Rauf and more.
The main programme which you can explore in full here, runs from Friday 22 May to Sunday 31 May. Their newsletter highlights the following names (and you can see our event highlights at the end of this article):
Novelists: Hilary Mantel, Anne Enright, Elif Shafak, Roddy Doyle, Leila Sliman, Ingrid Persaud, Polly Samson, Ali Smith, Maggie O'Farrell and Jessie Burton.
Poets: Mererid Hopwood, Simon Armitage, Margaret Atwood and Inua Ellams
Economists: Esther Duflo, Paul Krugman and Tim Harford
Science and health experts: Devi Sridhar, Sally Davies, Daniel Davis, Jim Al-Khalili, Adam Rutherford, Naomi Oreskes and James Peebles
Lawyers: Miriam Gonzalez Durantez and Philippe Sands
Scholars: Jonathan Bate, James Shapiro and Daniel Susskind;
Activists: Tori Amos, Gloria Steinem, Christiana Figueres and Dara McAnulty;
Historians: Rutger Bregman, Simon Schama, Bettany Hughes, Hallie Rubenhold and Greg Jenner
Journalists: Lydia Cacho, Afua Hirsch, Jon Sopel and Kapka Kassabova; US diplomat Samantha Power
Philosophers: Roman Krznaric, Paul Dolan and AC Grayling;
Chefs: Sami Tamimi, Tara Wigley and Yotam Ottolenghi
Actors, comedians dancers, broadcasters: Stephen Fry, Helena Bonham Carter, Dominic West, Sandi Toksvig, Benedict Cumberbatch, Helen McCrory, Tom Hollander, Toby Jones, Jonathan Pryce and Vanessa Redgrave. Fernando Montaño and Monty Don.
How do we sign up?
The Festival will be free to view and you can 'register your interest', just like booking a ticket, against each event you wish to join and invite friends and family to meet you there online.
While the schools programme will be available via their Hay Player, the main programme will be streamed via a platform called Crowdcast. Hay have also put together a one-minute video on ‘How to register for Hay Festival Digital 2020’ so it’s as easy as possible. You can watch the video here. You’ll receive a 10-minute warning before the session starts as well. Note that some sessions (e.g. Gloria Steinem in conversation with Laura Bates on Fri 22) are audio only.
Any lovely merchandise I should know about?
Merchandise highlighted in their newsletter even includes the classic Hay Festival deckchair:
If you're joining us for Hay Festival Digital, deck yourself out with some swaggy new season merch. Picture yourself and your friends in a festival deckchair, with a classic jute bag at your side for books, writing a poem in your notebook with a limited edition Hay Cross pen. 2020 hoodies and bags are gorgeously toned and exclusive to you. Post a pic of you and your Hay (new or vintage!) stuff on instagram, twitter or facebook #hayfestivalswag during Hay Festival Digital for the chance to win a year's free Hay Player subscription for you and three friends.
You can also participate in #ImagineTheWorld: A Reading List for the Future - a chance to shortlist “20 books that offer us a roadmap to a better world, through transformative ideas or unheard voices.” Those who submit suggestions by 31 May and are based in Great Britain and Northern Ireland are in with a chance to win the full selection. List announced 2 June. Website link for more info here.
Where do I get my books?
Hay Festival is not letting the cancellation of their physical event stop them from having a Festival Bookshop:
We are working with Waterstones this year who will be able to send books direct to your home. They have set up a Hay Festival page online.
The GAOLF Team’s Highlights:
Hay Festival is another example of how events can still thrive in trying times and we can’t wait to start registering for some of them ourselves. You’ll likely find your own favourites when you explore the programme, but we’ve folded down these pages in ours:
Friday 22 May – Colombian dancer Fernando Montaño, Soloist of The Royal Ballet, will be reading excerpts from his memoir A Boy with a Beautiful Dream, and dancing a quarantine-updated death of the Swan and more, all from his lockdown studio in Los Angeles. Details here.
Saturday 23 May – Historian and broadcaster Greg Jenner, takes some time out of hosting the BBC comedy podcast You’re Dead to Me! To talk about his latest book Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen, a history of celebrity with a cast of 125 actors, singers, dancers, demigods and more.
(If you’re interested in the ‘corrosive nature of celebrity’ you might then pair this with Anne Enright’s conversation with Peter Florence on Sunday 31 May about her exploration of post-war America and 1970s Dublin in Actress.)
Tuesday 26 May – If you find truth and certainty eases your anxieties amid this pandemic, you can hear from one of the world’s most respected experts, Professor Devi Sridhar, as she analyses the global response to covid-19. Event details here.
Saturday 30 May – We love that this event description comes with a ‘spoiler alert’. Hilary Mantel’s final volume in the Thomas Cromwell trilogy is on many of our bedside tables right now. If you’re all caught up, you can register for her conversation with Peter Florence about The Mirror and the Lighthere.