Welsh Book Festival: Woodstock of the Mind

Most towns have at least one thing they are known for, even if it is something as minor as a good restaurant or a friendly town mayor.

Few, however, are known for their books.

And yet once a year, the small town of Hay on Wye, becomes the most famous literary destination in the western world. The Welsh town, located on the border of Wales and England, hosts the annual Guardian Hay Festival each spring in which famous authors and booklovers alike descend upon the town and go wild in a literary sort of way.

Michael Shapiro, writing for the LA Times, recently described his experience at last year’s festival with enthusiasm that only another book lover could appreciate. “Exploring the village’s narrow, bookshop-lined streets during the annual Hay Festival,” he writes, “I felt as though I’d landed in paradise.” Bill Clinton, who visited in 2001, called it “the Woodstock of the mind.”

This year’s festival will be held May 24 to June 3 and will feature Dave Eggers, Martin Amis, Bob Geldof, and many more including four Nobel Laureates: Wole Soyinka, Orhan Pamuk, Derek Walcott and Wangari Maathai.

Oh, and if you can’t make it this spring, be sure to pop by any other time of year; the village’s numerous bookstores–mostly used–are open all year long.