Its World Book Day! And what better way to spend it here, in the Brecon Beacons National Park. There is a wealth of independent book shops here, with our very own Hay on Wye being worldwide known as the Town of Books! Hay on Wye is uniquely positioned on the border of Wales and England and is home to around 30 bookshops. It all started in 1961 when Richard Booth opened his first bookshop in Hay, which soon grew into Europe’s largest second hand bookshop.
Home to the Hay Literary Festival, that brings around 80,000 writers
publishers and literature fans from all across the world to this small market town in South East Powys at the end of May each year. A haven for book lovers, with President Bill Clinton once calling it the ‘Woodstock of the Mind’, this years festival will be held from the 26 May—5 June, with the full programme being available over the Easter weekend. Last years festival saw the likes of Stephen Fry, Bear Grylls and Mary Portas with other prominent authors like Anthony Beevor, Meera Syal and John Boyne the bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.
There are 10 other festivals and shows in the town, including How the Light Gets In (Philosphy and Music Festival), Hay Arts and Crafts Festival, Hay Summer Food Festival, Hay-on-Wye Horse and Pony Show and Hay-on-Wye Winter Food Festival, with a weekly market being held every Thursday.
Hay On Wye isn’t the only town with books! Why not pop into Book-ish in Crickhowell, another independent book shop that handpicks their books to keep a small but diverse range for all ages and interests, who have recently won the 2016 Independent Bookshop of the year for Wales & the Midlands! Crickhowell and the surrounding area is known both for its wealth of local history and as a base for walking in the beautiful, dramatic Brecon Beacons and Black Mountains, they stock a wide range of local history books and local guide books, alongside a wide range of local walking books and OS maps.
Crickhowell will also be running its successful literary festival, for the second time running with this years event being held from the 1st-9th of October. The Festival features something for everyone – there will be lots of talks – on books, poetry, art, sport and politics; and there will be readings, stories, interviews, debates, candle-lit literary suppers, creative writing workshops and wholesome walks.
If you’re in Brecon, pop into The Hours Bookshop and Cafe. Situated in a gorgeously wonky Grade II listed building on one of Brecon’s oldest streets, they stock a fine selection of carefully hand-picked books. Their quirky second floor meanwhile, exhibits art by Welsh and Wales-based artists and houses a selection of literary gifts and used books.
For maps and guides: The shop at the National Park Visitor Centre in Libanus near Brecon usually has plenty of local maps in stock, along with crafts, souvenirs and books on local history and culture. It’s open every day of the year except Christmas Day.