Hay Festival will be broadcasted live to schools UK-wide on 23 May for Key Stage 2 and 24 May for Key Stages 3 and 4, widening access to the festival’s world-class Programme for Schools, funded by the Welsh Government and the Hay Festival Foundation.

Twelve inspirational sessions will be streamed for free each day to schools unable to attend in person with appearances from children’s favourites Michael Rosen, Kate DiCamillo, Cressida Cowell, Chris Bradford, Abi Elphinstone, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Candy Gourlay and Chitra Soundar; stars of YA fiction Sarah Crossan, Holly Bourne, Alex Wheatle, Marcus Sedgwick, Yaba Badoe and Caroline Lawrence; comedians David Baddiel, Mae Martin and Harry Hill; Paralympian and TV presenter Ade Adepitan; master cartoonist Gary Northfield; scientist Steve Mould; and historian and broadcaster Amy Lamé.

Mixing storytelling, live performances, and workshops, the two specially curated days are funded by the Welsh Government and Hay Festival Foundation, and free for state schools to attend in person. Last year 5,360 pupils participated on site, while 5,200 streamed live online.

“Opening up inspiring opportunities for young people is a core part of our mission here and around the world. Our 2019 Programme for Schools celebrates the vital role literature plays in inspiring the next generation of world-changers with a stellar line-up of speakers offering a diverse range of events for pupils in Key Stages 2, 3 and 4. We’re delighted to be expanding this opportunity online to allow even more young people the opportunity to engage in the magic of Hay Festival. Live-streaming allows us to reach even wider and create a Hay Festival celebration in classrooms across the UK.”

Aine Venables, Hay Festival Education Manager

“The Welsh Government is a proud supporter of the Hay Festival Programme for Schools. The line-up of speakers this year, as every year, is truly exceptional and offers our learners a breathtaking array of inspirational, thought-provoking and captivating sessions.

“When I visited last year’s Key Stage 2 Day, I was struck not only by how much learners had enjoyed the sessions but how much they had learnt; these sessions really do challenge the way you see the world and reveal many new and dazzling horizons.  

“Of course, the best thing about this is that every single school in Wales can enjoy and benefit from the programme, even if they can’t attend in person, thanks to the live-streaming service. I encourage all schools to make the most of these fantastic and invaluable opportunities.”

Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams AM said:

Alongside this year’s Programme for Schools, Hay Festival has recently launched a new public engagement campaign: #BooksToInspire. Championing the importance of reading for pleasure, and spotlighting the critical role books play in a young person’s development, the campaign seeks to create reading lists that will inspire the next generation. The reading lists – one for primary schools and another for secondary schools – will comprise 32 books each, to mark the festival’s 32nd year.


On Thursday 23 May – Key Stage 2 day – the programme includes award-winning fiction, adventure, science, and sessions on spotting fake news:

  • US National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Kate DiCamillo, appears straight from her American tour to talk about her latest novel, Louisiana’s Way Home.
  • Award-winning writer and illustrator Cressida Cowell talks about her How to Train Your Dragon (and The Wizards of Once) books, giving a sneak-peek of her latest: The Wizards of Once: Twice Magic.
  • Bestselling author of The Girl of Ink & Stars and The Island at the End of Everything, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, introduces her latest book The Way Past Winter.
  • Novelist Abi Elphinstone talks about the real-life adventures behind her books, The Unmapped Chronicles, from chasing the Northern Lights across the Arctic to living with the Kazakh eagle hunters in Mongolia.
  • Chris Bradford launches his new adventure, The Return of the Young Samurai, with a live event experience like no other.
  • Paralympian and TV presenter Ade Adepitan presents his new book, Ade’s Amazing Ade-ventures: Battle of Cyborg Cat, inspired by his own experience of moving to London from Nigeria.
  • Chitra Soundar brings traditional Indian storytelling to the stage with tales of magic, wisdom and wit.
  • Journalist and writer Candy Gourlay talks about her latest novel, Bone Talk, and the real-life Filipino tribes that inspired it.
  • Comedian Harry Hill launches his new book, Matt Millz, a hilarious introduction to comedy, with pupils given the chance to try out their own comedy skills.
  • And master cartoonist Gary Northfield talks about his madcap new adventure, Julius Zebra, sharing his favourite Roman, Egyptian and Greek facts, along with drawing tips for budding young illustrators.
  • Scientist Steve Mould celebrates the mysteries of the universe with his Science is Magic show, and the NewsWise team offers a series of journalism workshops: Become a fake news detective!

On Friday 24 May – Key Stage 3 & 4 day – the programme offers a sneak peek at the latest YA releases, comedy, history and a journalism masterclass:

  • CILIP Carnegie Medal-winner Sarah Crossan offers a first look at her poignant new novel Toffee.
  • Best-selling author Holly Bourne presents her recent YA novel, Are We All Lemmings & Snowflakes?, and Caroline Lawrence brings her history-mystery stories, Time Travel Diaries.
  • Multi award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick presents his ghostly new novel, The Monsters We Deserve.
  • Author and filmmaker Yaba Badoe talks about the blending of environmentalism, magic and feminism in her book Wolf Light.
  • Comedian and author David Baddiel brings his wildly entertaining classroom drama, Head Kid, to the stage.
  • Michael Rosen talks about his career as one of Britain’s best-loved writers.
  • Canadian comedian Mae Martin talks about the pitfalls of modern-day sexuality with Can Everyone Please Calm Down?: Mae Martin’s Guide to 21st Century Sexuality.
  • Amy Lamé leads a journey through LGBTQ+ history, with From Prejudice to Pride: A History of LGBTQ+ Movement.
  • The NewsWise team offers a journalism workshop: I’m a journalist… get me out of here!