Forget Glastonbury – This Is Why Hay Festival Is Attracting The Likes Of Dua Lipa And Stormzy This Spring

hay festival new glastonbury
Why Hay Festival Is The New GlastonburyJMEnternational - Getty Images

Mark your diaries people, because Hay Festival – the UK literary event famous for enlisting prominent voices from the worlds of everything from fashion to entertainment, through to politics and science, is back. And we're not kidding when we say it's looking like it'll be the most exciting and A-list-filled event yet.

This year the festival, scheduled to take place from May 25 until June 4, invites the likes of pop star Dua Lipa and rapping sensation Stormzy (real name Michael Ebenezer Kwadjo Omari Owuo Jr.) to be part of its 2023 speakers line-up, so it's no wonder why some (read: us) are calling it in the 'new Glastonbury'.

Last year saw the festival, first held in 1987, return to its physical home in Hay-on-Wye, Wales, and in the newly renovated Hay Castle, after two years of being digital-only due to the pandemic. Previous attendees have included Hollywood stars like Minnie Driver, Damian Lewis and Benedict Cumberbatch.

From wellbeing workshops and activities such as morning yoga and wildlife walks, to talks about surviving war conflict and conversations around regression in women’s rights, Hay Festival 2023 is one for all the family.

On the final fay of the festival (June 4), 'New Rules' singer Lipa is scheduled to discuss how books have been 'her constant companion and her lifeline', from her childhood in London and school years in Kosovo, to the long hours touring as a musician.

A day prior, Stormzy is expected to discuss his award-winning book publishing imprint #Merky Books, which he launched in 2018 to revolutionise mainstream literature. The grime artist's publishing brand has also led to the #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize – an annual writing competition open to young, underrepresented and unpublished writers from the UK and Ireland.

Model and transgender rights activist Munroe Bergdorf, will also be in conversation with gal-dem founder Liv Little, and will discuss her life-affirming book Transitional, which explores her experience of transitioning.

The festival will also put Rebecca F Kuang’s satirical thriller and first adult contemporary novel Yellowface in the spotlight. The novel depicts a woman watching her frenemy – and super successful author – Athena Liu die, before stealing her manuscript and publishing it under her own name. Yellowface will serve as the benchmark for an invigorating discussion at the festival around the publishing industry, trial by social media, unhealthy friendships, and identity politics.

Of course, Hay Festival wouldn’t be anything without an appearance from literary classics too, such as Canadian poet, novelist and activist Margaret Atwood, who brought us The Handmaid's Tale.

Lending a voice to young readers, 12-year-old Yeva Skalietska will open up about her experience of fleeing Ukraine as a young girl, following Russia’s invasion, and discuss what conflict is like through the lens of a child.

Another international focus will come from Shazia Haya, who fled Afghanistan in 2021, and who is set to discuss the reality for women in the country, including the increasing restrictions on basic freedoms and what happens next.

For more information on Hay Festival, click here.

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