Mid Wales

Celebrities line up for 29th Hay festival in Powys

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Media captionHay Festival boss Peter Florence tells BBC arts correspondent Huw Thomas why he thinks Hay-on-Wye is such a special place

Writers from Wales will star alongside international authors and celebrity speakers at the 29th Hay Festival.

Sir Tom Jones, Broadchurch star Olivia Coleman and James Bond director Sam Mendes are among the celebrities expected at Hay-on-Wye, Powys.

It will begin with free events for schools as well as a full programme of discussions and performances by actors, writers, musicians and politicians.

Wales' new national poet, Ifor ap Glyn, will take up the post at the event.

Meanwhile, 20 young writers from across Wales have also been lined up to take part in activities designed to develop their careers.

Festival director Peter Florence said there had recently been a renaissance in Welsh writing.

"There's a generation coming through who are thrilling and a lot of them are coming over the next few days," he said.

"Some of them have been coming here since they were kids, brought in school parties, and now there they are - writing amazing work, changing our lives, reaching out, making connections, making that extraordinary human contact that writers can do."

Image copyright Finn Beales

Sir Tom Jones and the composer Sir Karl Jenkins will discuss their recent autobiographies, while political appearances include former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown and former Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable.

On Monday 30 May the former artistic director of National Theatre Wales, John McGrath, will deliver the Patrick Hannan lecture live on BBC Radio Wales from the festival site.

Mr Florence said McGrath, who helped to establish the theatre company, had made a lasting impression on Welsh cultural life.

"His extraordinary vision for National Theatre Wales is the most exciting thing I can ever remember in my lifetime in culture in Wales.

"It's transformed the way we perceive ourselves, the way we set our aspirations and ambitions, culturally.

"And suddenly you've got artists going to Venice. You've got people looking out beyond what might have become parochial and small, it's now aspirant and international."

BBC Arts will be broadcasting from the Hay Festival, including live streams of some events, while a number of BBC programmes will also be recorded at the festival.

It will run until 5 June.

Image copyright Finn Beales

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