Hot Lists Thursday, May 26th Words by: Adam Knight, pictures by: How The Light Gets In

An insider's guide to festival week in Hay-on-Wye

Hot Lists Thursday, May 26th

An insider's guide to festival week in Hay-on-Wye

For fifty weeks and around four days each year, Hay-on-Wye is a hilltop border town with five pubs and a better-than-average reading age.

But when Hay Festival rolls in to town, all bets are off.

Home to a population of just over 1,500, Hay swells to accommodate 80,000 new faces, castles become cocktail bars and London’s literati roam the streets looking for wi-fi and a good time.

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We asked one of Hay’s native sons how to negotiate Festival Week like a local - what to do, where to party, and how to make the most of both Hay Festival and HowtheLightGetsIn.

Contemporary dancer, burgeoning men’s fashionisto and all-round good bloke Josh Houghton has grown up around HTLGI, the free-wheeling philosophy and music festival that's long since emerged from the shadow of its heavyweight cousin. Think of it as the Stones to Hay Festival’s Beatles.

Here's Josh's inside line on festival life outside the bookshops.

Where To Eat/Drink

Josh says: "The guys from A Rule of Tum's Burger Shop took over a little chapel last year with a pop-up shop and did some lovely burgers. They’re back again this year.

"Hay Castle is having its own cocktail bar this year called The Menagerie which should be a lot of fun. It sounds good. There's going to be a load of live music there as well."

Hay Castle has previously hosted the likes of London’s famed Groucho Club for festival week. You can find out more about The Menagerie here.



Where To Park 

Josh says: "Don't. Traffic’s a nightmare. Use the park and ride – you can catch the bus from Clyro just outside Hay and save yourself having to deal with it." 

Where to Chill

Josh says: "Take an afternoon off, give your brain a rest and go canoeing.

"Or if you don't like the water, the site at the Globe has constant acoustic music and sets with up-and-coming artists. It's a nice way to chill out with a cider in between deep talks." 


Where to Go After Dark

Josh says: "Check out the Globe site over the river. There’s pop-up bars and stalls and last year there was a circus. This year there’s a masked ball and campfires at night. And you can easily pop down to the river to continue the party, always a good shout.

"There are also these crazy Midnight Mayhem debates at the Globe's main site with top comedians you can just join with." 



Where To Get Brekkie The Morning After

Josh says: "The best hangover cure in town is the breakfast bun at The Mixing Bowl. It’s incredible, and the woman who runs the place is a local gem."


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