Seven ‘early bird’ events have been released for Hay Festival, which this year runs from Thursday, May 24 to Sunday, June 3, with booking for the general public open today.

Offering a hint at the breadth of programming to come the seven events include award-winning fiction from past and present, fresh comedy, philosophy, late night music, and new perspectives on our changing world.

Margaret Atwood talks The Handmaid’s Tale; novelists Philip Pullman and Marina Warner join folklore scholar Jack Zipes to discuss tales of wonder, magic, resistance and hope; writer Sarah Churchwell delivers The 2018 Raymond Williams Lecture: Behold America; and neuroscientist Hannah Critchlow and theologian Rowan Williams explore the concept of consciousness. The early events released include an exciting trio of performances: an all-star Letters Live cast returns for a fifth year; comedienne Bridget Christie offers her new show Stand Up: What Now?; and the all-female collective of West African musicians campaigning for gender equality, Les Amazones d’Afrique, perform.

Early bird tickets are on general sale now at or by calling the box office on 01497 822 629.

The 31st Hay Festival will see over 800 conversations, lectures, workshops and performances

featuring writers and thinkers from around the globe. The full programme will be announced this spring.

Peter Florence, director of Hay Festival, said@ ““2018 marks the centenary of the Great War armistice and the 50th anniversary of May ‘68. The contemporary mood is one of disappointment, divisiveness and disagreement. The festival will explore all these contexts and will seek to amplify the ideas and stories that bind us together, that make us stronger, and that enable us to understand and encourage and celebrate each other.”