Susie Wild


Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Cate Le Bon

How The Light Gets In: The Philosophy And Music Festival at Hay Festival


Wed 28 May-Sun 6 June


Where the main festival site of The Guardian Hay Festival is all white marquees, asparagus sellers and summer wedding attire, the institute of art and ideas presents a much more vibrant affair with philosophy lectures and music workshops, delicious cakes, and beautiful bar staff adorned with feathers and face-painted flourishes. An altogether more delightfully inviting place to chill out, or let your hair down and have many a dance.

Expanding into the globe field, this year the festival offered a tea tent and cocktail bar, an talk yurt and an open mic/ acoustic stage. In between taking advantage of their wifi in the mornings and traipsing back to base camp late at night I idled many an hour away in the field watching ukele players, poets, giggling entertained children, and being bought Pimms by some real characters including Scary Guy. Then we’d be ushered indoors and into the hall to catch Live Sessions from the sensational live poet Dockers MC, the unstoppable poetry, music and performance of the Book Club Boutique, the unique Welsh songstress Cate Le Bon, the (very) Sweet Baboo, the ‘chic geek’ scot King Creosote,  up-and-coming Jonathan Powell, shoegazing Man Without Country and the magical folk wonders of Martha Tilston.

Those wanting to expand their mind needn’t have reached for the drugs with philosophy sessions offered on all aspects of being human from language, sex and culture to emotion, truth, mortality and sanity and featuring big thinkers like Robert Winston, Frank Furedi and John Dupre and journalists like Will Hutton and Tom Hodgkinson discussing the meaning of life. Apparently there is much more to it than simply ‘42’.

As the witching hour approached it was time to get sweaty and move down the narrow staircase to stomp about to the Night Sessions including the best new live band around (Islet, believe me they are bloody marvellous),  and get dance crazy to the tunes Broken Hearts, Bethan Elfyn and Huw Stephens chose to play.

An eclectic programme, great performances, pleasant staff and tip-top atmosphere made this THE town venue to visit. No longer a fringe event but a festival in its own right, don’t forget to visit How The Light Gets In next year.

What To Read Next

Share on social media.

  • jody

    I went to see Jonathan Powell at this festival and he was so amazing. Loved it and I’m so going to see him at the Norwegian Church in Cardiff next month.We also digged the music playing in the basement after Jonathan’s set.

  • catherine

    I saw Jonathan Powell in Cardiff library a while back and he said he was playing at Hay so I made the effort to go see him and his band. It was brilliant, he had a string quartet playing with him too. What is this gig in the Norwegian Church? I bought his album ‘Forgive this day’ I love it!

  • admin

    Jonathon Powell is down to play a free gig at Cardiff Arts Institute on Wed 30 June, 8pm, Powell fans.

  • Victoria

    I saw Jonathan Powell at Hay too. Absolutely amazing set. Loved the string quartet. Will definitely go to the Norwegian Church gig.

  • Sarah

    this guy is awesome! I bought his CD and I haven’t stopped playing it. When is he back in Hay?

    • florence

      Jonathan Powell is actually playing at the Globe again on Friday 24 September – there might be a few tickets left

  • dylan

    I saw Jonathan Powell in London this weekend, I’m definately going to his next London gig.

  • sasha

    He's great, this guy.. .he played at No Sweat last night, brilliant!