Cartagena hosts Hay Festival for everyone

Hay Festival Cartagena
Hay Festival Cartagena

[dropcap]A[/dropcap]fter celebrating its 10th edition last year, Hay Festival Cartagena returns with big names in the world of literature, philosophy, film and music. Hay Cartagena, ensconced as the most important literary festival in the country, kicks off its program Thursday for four full days, taking over colonial venues in Cartagena’s Old City.

Its extensive agenda includes a special reading series for students, Hay Joven, and one for children, Festivalito.

It will be hard not to meet and greet the authors as they stroll in their guayaberas and Panama hats from hotel lobbies to the Adolfo Mejía Theatre or see them signing their bestsellers in the sunlit courtyards of the historic walled city.

Hay Festival takes on the printed word and gets audiences engaged on topics that wet headlines, such as currency instability and macroeconomic inequality. To address some of these, Columbia University professor and 2001 Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz headlines at Hay Cartagena.

As we are always drawn to words, Hay’s literary cosmos features star authors Hanif Kureishi and Lionel Shriver.

If you have lived in London you know that laundry and poetry tumble together. Especially at midnight. Kureishi will talk about his Academy-Award winning film My Beautiful Laundrette, how he got into writing pornographic screenplays under pseudonyms and his 1990 Whitbread prize for the semi-autobiographical The Buddha of Suburbia.

Stephen Frears, who directed My Beautiful Laundrette, will also be at Hay, talking about his life in film.

American novelist Lionel Shriver, whose We Need to Talk about Kevin won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2005, joins in the conversation with Laurie Moore and former U.S. Marine Phil Klay, winner of the 2014 National Book Award for fiction for Redeployment.

Other guest writers include Gonçalo M. Tavares, Nuno Judice, Andrés Trapiello, Clara Uson, Uwe Timms, Peter Stamm, Takashi Hiraide, Pierre Lemaitre, Marc Levy and Hisham Matar. On the VIP list for Latin American literature are Alberto Barrera Tyska (Venezuela), Julian Herbert (Mexico) and Patricio Pron (Argentina).

The Colombian line-up includes Piedad Bonnet, Daniel Samper Pizano, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Pablo Montoya, William Ospina, Mario Mendoza and Melba Escobar.

The festival opens with a conversation with Spanish actress Emma Súarez, who was cast in Pedro Almodóvar’s next film, The Silence. Cuban actor Jorge Perugorría, Argentina’s Leonardo Sbaraglia and Colombian Ciro Guerra, director of Embrace of the Serpent, will talk about trends in Latin American cinema and the documentary elements of visual story-telling.

Writers Richard McGuire and Ana Sainz Quesada will present the intricacies of the graphic novel.

Last, but never least, Hay presents concerts in the Plaza de la Aduana. The stage is set on opening night for the legendary Cuban band Los Van Van. Colombian talents, Juanes and Fonseca, will also perform.

Every year is a key year for those who enjoy meeting the artists who redefine the way we look and read about the world. Cartagena is also a perfect venue for inspirational talks and conferences. So enjoy four days of top-notch literary discussions, food and open-air entertainment.

If you want to attend Hay Cartagena, you need to get your entry tickets on the official website at


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