Jilly: Hay Festival Digital–Free Brain Candy

Another Sunday, another silver lining. I wrote a few weeks ago about free lockdown streaming from London’s National Theatre. Now summer’s approaching in the UK and we’re heading into festival season. For the great and the good of the arts scene that means the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, usually just called the Hay Festival. I’d say it’s our most famous literature festival. Apparently in 2001 Bill Clinton described it as “The Woodstock of the Mind.”

Normally the festival would take over the beautiful town of Hay-on-Wye, Wales. This year the event is virtual, and it’s all free. Hay Festival Digital runs until next Sunday, 31 May. The tagline is free live broadcasts and interactive Q&As from the world’s greatest writers and thinkers.

You can register to watch any of the sessions, and if you join live you can chat with fellow audience members and send questions to the presenter, just as you could if you attended the festival in person. If you’re in another time zone and the live stream isn’t convenient for you, the recorded sessions will be available for a further 24 hours.

I watched an interview yesterday morning called Dead Famous: An Unexpected History of Celebrity from Bronze Age to Silver Screen, by author and historian Greg Jenner, who also has a fabulous, quirky history podcast called You’re Dead To Me. The discussion was great fun and the technology worked well. I saw people from the US, Nigeria, and a number of European countries as well as the UK, chatting away and having a great time.

I’m definitely planning to catch another session or two. Continue reading

Nancy: Book Festivals

 

The writer, when allowed out of her cave for short periods of time, will tend to congregate with other writers.

As summer approaches, even I–hardcore, sun-avoidant introvert that I am–will venture out on occasional weekend forays. On Sunday, I attended a fabulous gathering of a small group of Women’s Fiction writers. A few of the ladies had attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival on Saturday, which was on my to-do wishlist. Alas, I had scheduling conflicts so had to give up on attending this year, but I hope to plan better next year.

So what did I miss? Turns out, quite a bit. Book signing. Author panels. Writing workshops. Chances to meet readers, other writers, and book lovers of all stripes. A chance to wander around in the sunshine and soak up all things literary. And it’s all free, even the workshops. Really, the only experience I can think of that’s nearly as good as sitting in the stacks of a gorgeous library on a rainy day is wandering around in a park full of books on a sunny afternoon. Continue reading