This post is about ascertaining interest in a MWC trip to the internationally renowned HAY LITERARY FESTIVAL sometime during the Festival from Thursday, May 24th to Sunday, June 3rd.    Those who are seriously interested are  asked to submit a $100 per person deposit by January 30th via the Reservations / Payments section of the site; spouses / partners / friends / family are welcome.   Deposits will be returned if a minimum of 10 are not collected by January 30th.  If we get MORE MWC’ers signed up than we can find group accommodations for, spots will be offered in order of sign-up.  After the number of attendees is known, we will try to find group accommodations and will prorate the cost among whomever is attending.  All other costs (airfare, local transportation, event tickets …etc) will be paid for individually.  Read the post below for some information – but do a bit of Google-noodling (CLICK HERE for the Festival website) to find out more!  The Hay Festival has not yet released its 2018 program – but accommodations are so hard to come by we will need to find some before they do!

GLASTONBURY FOR NERDS:   Imagine a town which seems like it’s one big bookshop – where the local vibe is very much, maybe mostly, about books and reading and writers.  Now, realize that just such a town actually exists; a remote and quirky market town called Hay-on-Wye (Hay, for short), which is nestled in the Welsh hills on the border between England and Wales right on the edge of Brecon Beacons National Park.  It has long been a haven for the bookish, the eccentric, the expressive, the curious  … the, um, colorful ones of this world.  A phrase often used to describe Hay is  that it’s “a town set at a slight angle to the rest of the world”  – very muck like the Festival’s attendees!  That Hay-on-Wye also happens to be charming and gorgeous is a good thing, too!  At one point Hay, with a population of well under 2,000, had more than 24 bookstores, not counting free book shelves, second hand book dealers and book crannies all over town and in shops!

Just over 30 years ago, an enterprising local, Peter Florence, decided to put on a literary (not book!) festival.  The first one was colorful indeed, with events all over town – in the British Legion hall, the backrooms of pubs, in school rooms and in tents.  Eventually a site was specifically dedicated to the Festival just west of town and it continued to expand.  Soon, anyone who liked to read or write books wanted to go to Hay.  Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter showed up (in different years!) and authors and agents started lobbying for Hay speaking engagements. Prior years’ rosters included Stephen Fry, Helen Fielding, Colm Toibin, Elizabeth Strout and Ian Rankin.  It is important to note, however, that Hay is very much an Anglo-centric event featuring writers who are perhaps better known in the UK than in the US.

 If we have 10 or more MWC’ers signed up by January 30th, we will try to secure accommodations as soon as possible so we can do this crazy, wonderful thing together. Lodging in Hay tends to consist of rented houses or B&B’s – and they’re not easy to come by.  It is possible that we won’t attend the entire Festival and that some of us may want to tack on some other travel.  But even if you don’t go – this is something that’s great to know about and worth looking into.  The original Festival has now expanded well beyond Hay – to other countries.  There are now Hay Festivals in Mexico, Spain, Peru, Columbia and Denmark.

So, who goes to Hay?  Well, according to survey results… Hay-goers are a diverse lot and have very little socially, economically or politically in common other than the Festival.  Other results suggest they are skeptical about monarchy and religion, not much bothered about hunting, very bothered about illegal invasions of other countries and passionately engaged with the environment, good food and having a good time. Writers say they’re exceptionally well read and pretty smart.  Somehow, it seems that for a group which now hosts FIVE book groups (yes!), this should suit the MWC to a “T”!   If attending this very, very special bookish event in an uber gorgeous part of the world during a perfect time of year is something you would like to do – check your calendar NOW, carve out some time – and come along!


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