What We Wore – Hay Literary Festival

The whole of the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye appears to get involved in their 10 day annual literary extravaganza – from warehouses renting their hard standing as car parks (£5 per day) to farmers renting out fields to campers, to local families setting up business in their front gardens.

Muddy car parking at Hay FestivalIt has been said that it often rains for the festival, and once inside the festival area they really have catered well for that eventuality. The challenge in wet weather is choosing your footwear – it needs to get you from potentially muddy car parking which may require wellies, but inside the venue you walk around on boardwalks that are clean and dry.

Last year because it poured with rain endlessly we opted for walking boots which worked really well. Our feet stayed warm and dry throughout the day, and coped with the mud getting in and out and the torrential downpour when we left. The boots plus jeans, a long-sleeved t-shirt and fleece meant I was comfortable all day.

This year however we were blessed with sunshine and very little rain but nevertheless if you are planning to be there into the evening you needed to be prepared for the damp to rise and the temperature to fall. Dressing in layers is the key to managing temperature changes. Cropped jeans and a shirt with a jacket were perfect for daytime but a warmer coat and a fleece were welcome when the sun went down.

It seemed many people, women especially, had taken pac-a-macs which fold up really small; they are strong enough to cope with the weather getting in and out of the venue, but they’re also lightweight and not bulky to carry. Forgo umbrellas in favour of a jacket with hood – an umbrella will just get in the way and be a pain to carry around all day.

We booked some tickets for our weeklong visit online in advance. The popular events do get booked up quickly, but we were also able to top up when we arrived by buying more at the box office. Also you will find people hand in tickets for events they have booked but can’t make to the charity stall (in the box office area) and these can then be picked up for a fraction of the face value. In fact we handed in two Stephen Fry tickets ourselves just an hour before the event which was completely sold out. There are bargains to be had if you are willing to wait.

Avid readers at Hay FestivalThere are plenty of places to just sit and read, chat to newly discovered friends, drink wine, eat a wide range of foods… and being a literary festival there were of course plenty of books to read. Alternatively there is another festival in town at the same time called How The Light Gets In and they offer a number of topics that make for a stimulating alternative.

Top Tip 1: If you have a friend who loves books then this is a great place to buy a signed copy from their favourite author.

Top Tip 2: If you join the Friends of Hay you will get a chance to book tickets early, and you also get a separate Friends entrance to each talk which effectively means you get to go in first and grab the best seats.

I would suggest for Hay that you opt for comfort over style, especially if it’s raining. If you can add a bit of style then great, but people tend to dress conservatively – this is not like a music festival where wild and wacky sits alongside classic and stylish.


Posted by Helen – WhatToWearOnHoliday.com