Hay on Wye is uniquely positioned on the border of Wales and England and is home to around 30 bookshops. 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. Grab your early bird 2016 tickets here
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.
Places to visit
Hay Castle was once a great medieval stronghold, the castle and the grounds in the heart of mid-Wales are alive with possibilities once again. Part Norman, part Jacobean and part Victorian, Hay Castle has been a home to invaders, patriots’ citadel, country manor and a world-famous bookshop. The castle has recently been awarded £96,000 for a new sculpture gallery as part of the castle’s restoration.
Book and Antique Shops
Richard Booths Bookshop-Richard Booth opened his first bookshop in Hay, which soon grew into Europe’s largest second hand bookshop which now includes a cafe and a 48-seater cinema. Use this map to find more bookshops in Hay
The End Antique Shop-The End at 20 Castle Street, a small shop packed with interesting and unusual objects, textiles and antiques. The owner, Marina Rendle, is a fabulous curator, full of stories and a very talented stylist. Something for every budget.
Lion Street Gallery– recently rated as one of the best galleries in Wales by the Culture Trip website. Only 50 yards from the clock-tower in the famous book town of Hay- on- Wye, they mainly promoting artists who work in Wales and the Borders. There are regular shows throughout the year, showcasing both established Welsh artists, as well as up and coming young talent.
If you’re unsure on which of the many places you visit whilst there, why not let someone else do it for you and go on a guided tour with Hay Tours. Throughout the year, local volunteers offer expert talks on four different routes lasting an hour or two, learning about Hays fascinating history and quirky characters along the way. Each one brings Ha
y’s history to life, from medieval times right to the present day.
Food and Drink
Shepherd’s Ice Cream shop-try some of their ice cream made made locally with sheep’s milk. There are 16 flavours to choose from each day, both seasonal and classic. Try unusual varieties like tayberry, damson, lavender and cardamom, or rhubarb crumble. With less than 7 per cent fat, there’s no need to feel guilty about ordering an extra scoop!
The Felin Fach Grifin-Situated in between Brecon and Hay on Wye, a six time winner of the Good Pub Guide’s Dining Pub of the Year for Wales, and winner of a Good Hotel Guide Cesar award for Wales as Welsh Inn of the Year. Strong flavours, well sourced ingredients, organic kitchen garden. Well known for draught real ale selection and previous winner of Pub Wine List of the Year.
The River Cafe– lies just west of Hay-on-Wye, great food with great riverside views at our restaurant/cafe.The River Cafe is licensed and a great place for couples and groups to meet in an informal setting. In the last month we have had groups of architects, bankers, midwives, canoeists (paddlers are here pretty consistently because of our location!) and large wedding and family groups all getting together to enjoy fresh food cooked daily, a pint of local ale, and some excellent homemade cakes.
Things To Do in the Town:
Canoeing-Hire a canoe and discover the beauty of the River Wye. The Wye is by far one of the most beautiful rivers in the British Isles and one of the few you can navigate by canoe, without restriction, for well over 100 miles. Hire a canoe with want to canoe? who offer you the chance to embark on a relaxing river adventure from several different points along the way, with an array of different routes to choose from, all with their own unique sights, sounds and smells.
The Warren-Hay on Wye has its very own stoney beach on the river Wye, named the warren. A popular beauty spot for locals and tourists alike it really comes alive during Summer. Hay Bluff and Twmpa-is a prominent hill at the northern tip of the Black Mountains, sitting on an escarpment which faces north and runs roughly east-west, the next peak in the west being the Twmpa. The flat summit of Hay bluff overlooks the middle Wye Valley and the book town of Hay-on-Wye.
Cycling-Hire a bike from Drover Cycles who have steeds for roadies, mountain bikers and leisure riders. And if you want to take the string out of the hills, they’ve got electric bikes too!
Where to Stay
Why Knot Stop B&B– located between the towns of Brecon, Hay on Wye and Builth Wells with the river Wye just a few minutes walk away. Ideal location for walkers, riding, gliding in the Black Mountains, canoeing, outdoor activities or just to drive around our stunning area.
Upper House Farm and Spa, Creswall-Long Barn and Hayloft Cottage are two luxury self-catering mountain barns, located on the hills of the Black Mountains, right at the entrance of the Brecon Beacons National Park. Therefore the views are stunning and it’s paradise for walkers, lovers of nature and star gazers. Offering a boutique-hotel touch to self-catering offering style, comfort and exclusive hospitality. They even have a new sauna opening in Spring 2016! You can drive to Hay on Wye in just 20 minutes.
The Start Riverside B and B-is a recently renovated 18th century home, situated in Hay-on-Wye. The owner was born and bred in Hay so can give you any info you need about the fantastic surrounding countryside.