Hay Festival streams literary world for its 2020 edition

The globally renowned Hay Festival, which usually takes place from May to June in the idyllic town of Hay-on-Wye, Wales in the United Kingdom, is going ahead this year digitally. For this year’s Hay Festival Digital, big names in literature, arts, politics and the media will grace our screens to offer entirely free and globally accessible events and talks until May 31.

The festival itself is no stranger to Colombia, with Medellín and Cartagena each hosting international versions of the event annually. Luckily, these Colombian Hay Festival celebrations take place in January so this year’s programs went ahead unaffected by the pandemic.

So, what can we expect from the digital version of the festival and how can we attend? Well, since this is a festival that was once described by Bill Clinton as “Woodstock of the mind,” we can certainly expect our quarantine-numbed brains to be stimulated by world-renowned novelists, journalists, actors, comedians, politicians and writers.

Some of the talks and events to add to your calendar are:

Ilhan Omar, US Congresswoman, speaking to stalwart British broadcaster, Jon Snow, about her journey from being a refugee granted asylum in the United States to secure a seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives. This will take place on Thursday May 28 from 4.30 pm – 5.15 pm COT and you can register to attend here.

Sticking with the political theme, Samantha Power, former US Ambassador to the United Nations and Pulitzer Prize-winning author will be discussing the current state of the United States with QC lawyer and academic, Philippe Sands. This will be on Thursday May 28 at 1.30 pm – 2.15 pm COT, reserve your spot for this event here.

Bringing our focus back to Latin America, lauded Mexican authors, Chloe Aridjis and Daniel Saldaña París will be in conversation with literary translator Sophie Hughes to discuss their works and their recent accolade as recipients of the Eccles Centre & Hay Festival Writer’s Award. The prize consists of £20,000 for a current writing project related to the Americas. The event will take place on Friday May 29 from 11.30 am – 12.10 pm COT and can be accessed by registering here.

Colombia will be a worthy topic of discussion between BBC Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner, Royal Botanical Gardens of Kew researcher and botanist, Dr. Maurizio Diazgranados Cadelo and Baroness Rosie Boycott (who attended and spoke at Medellín’s Hay Festival earlier this year). The trio will address the topic of deforestation and conservation efforts in Colombia and their aim to discover and save rare plant species at risk of permanent annihilation. This event will be on Friday May 29 at 12.30 pm – 1.20 pm COT, you can reserve your spot here.

Of course, this is in no way an exhaustive list of all the events and talks happening this week as part of Hay Festival Digital, so visit their site here to browse everything on offer and see what piques your curiosity.

While we’ve all probably spent too much time in front of screens during this quarantine, these online events will provide some welcome escapism and offer global perspectives on topics including art, politics, and environmentalism so our minds can wander even if our bodies can’t.