Who to see at Hay Festival 2022: From Benedict Cumberbatch and Reginald D Hunter to Hillary Clinton

Report from Wales' Rural Affairs Correspondent, Hannah Thomas.

More than 3,000 people have had the chance to meet their favourite authors today as the Hay-on-Wye Art and Literature festival opened its doors to the public.

The eleven-day event, which celebrates the great and the good of global literature has been disrupted for the last three years because of the pandemic. But after a long wait, bookworms across Wales have had the chance to visit in-person.

One of the major guests to attend the event is former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. She will be in conversation with lawyer Helena Kennedy on 2 June as part of the festival’s “Women & Power” series,

The festival is also hosting artists from music, comedy and entertainment. There will be music from the likes of Corinne Bailey Rae, Kate Rusby and Danilo Pérez.

Corinne Bailey Rae is one of the singers to be performing at the festival.

Of the actors appearing they include Stephen Fry, Sheila Hancock, Benedict Cumberbatch and Damian Lewis. And there's also a series of comedians taking part, including Reginald D Hunter, Sir Lenny Henry and Bill Bailey.

The festival was first created in 1987 and has since travelled from Hay-on-Wye to Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Spain, and the USA. 

Events this year are taking place at the main Dairy Meadows site, in St Mary's Church and in a new Festival theatre in the grounds of the recently restored Hay Castle.

On Friday, the castle is opening its doors to the public for the first time in its 900-year history, following a major 10-year restoration. 

It is one of the remaining medieval defence structures still standing on the border of England and Wales. 

Stephen Fry is among the actors who will be attending the event in Hay on Wye.

The festival's international director, Cristina Fuentes La Roche, has said that she's very pleased the event is taking place.

"We're delighted to be gathering in our booktown with a vibrant programme to imagine the world anew.

"It's been 35 years since writers and readers started sharing their stories together in our Festival tents and we have never needed these stories more urgently.

"During the day our conversations and debates will tackle some of the biggest issues of the moment, and in the evenings we'll laugh and dance together again."

Meanwhile Dawn Bowden, Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, has said it's "excellent news that we are now seeing a return to in-person events.

"Hay Festival's global programme is unlike any other in the way that it focuses on some of the biggest topics affecting the world today.

"While it showcases Welsh talent to the world, the new hybrid format has also afforded more contributions from the best international talent than ever before."

More details about the festival can be found on its website.

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