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Hay on WiFi! Literary festival goes virtual and can be viewed online for free

Hay on WiFi! Literary festival goes virtual and will be free to view thanks to £ 350,000 in donations

  • Hay Festival was forced to go online during a pandemic, but still has a famous line-up
  • There are about 80 live broadcasts and events, all of which are free to watch
  • The festival was once described by Bill Clinton as “the Woodstock of the mind”
  • Here’s how you can help people affected by Covid-19

Huge crowds and crowded marquees are a familiar sight at the Hay Festival.

But book lovers won’t have to go to a field this year to enjoy the brilliant speakers, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event is forced to go online.

The annual literary festival has moved from a tent village in the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye to the virtual world.

Huge crowds and crowded marquees are a familiar sight at the Hay Festival. But book lovers won't have to go to a field this year to enjoy the brilliant speakers, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event must go online

Huge crowds and crowded marquees are a familiar sight at the Hay Festival. But book lovers won’t have to go to a field this year to enjoy the brilliant speakers, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the event must go online

But it still includes a great lineup of speeches from award-winning author Margaret Atwood, actress Vanessa Redgrave and comedian Stephen Fry.

Miss Atwood and Miss Redgrave joined poet laureate Simon Armitage and actors Benedict Cumberbatch (above) Tom Hollander, Helen McCrory and Jonathan Pryce on the occasion of William Wordsworth's 250th anniversary with a massive talk last night

Miss Atwood and Miss Redgrave joined poet laureate Simon Armitage and actors Benedict Cumberbatch (above) Tom Hollander, Helen McCrory and Jonathan Pryce on the occasion of William Wordsworth's 250th anniversary with a massive talk last night

Miss Atwood and Miss Redgrave joined poet laureate Simon Armitage and actors Benedict Cumberbatch (above) Tom Hollander, Helen McCrory and Jonathan Pryce on the occasion of William Wordsworth’s 250th anniversary with a massive talk last night

Some 80 live broadcasts and interactive events with more than 100 writers, historians, musicians, comedians and global policymakers will be shown for free over the next ten days thanks to donations totaling £ 350,000.

Fiction and non-fiction writers from Hilary Mantel and Maggie O’Farrell to Philippe Sands and Steve Silberman will entertain viewers in a closed environment.

Miss Atwood and Miss Redgrave joined poet laureate Simon Armitage and actors Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hollander, Helen McCrory and Jonathan Pryce on the occasion of William Wordsworth’s 250th anniversary with a massive talk last night.

Festival director Peter Florence said taking the event online had opened up “some extraordinary opportunities” and that the audience was much more diverse.

Mr. Florence said, “Instead of watching a production on the main stage in the theatrical sense, you actually get writers talking straight from their desks and armchairs and that gives a very intimate feeling … it’s like you- have one-on-one with these writers. ‘

Mr. Florence co-founded the Hay Festival in 1988 with his father Norman.

Once described by Bill Clinton as “The Woodstock of the mind”, the annual event invites guests to celebrate new books and discuss some of the biggest problems the world is facing.

it still features a great lineup of speeches from award-winning author Margaret Atwood, actress Vanessa Redgrave and comedian Stephen Fry, pictured above at the 2010 festival

it still features a great lineup of speeches from award-winning author Margaret Atwood, actress Vanessa Redgrave and comedian Stephen Fry, pictured above at the 2010 festival

it still features a great lineup of speeches from award-winning author Margaret Atwood, actress Vanessa Redgrave and comedian Stephen Fry, pictured above at the 2010 festival

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