Time off

30th May 2008 at 01:00
Hay Festival - Rolling hills, organic cider and vast quantities of self-congratulation make the annual Hay Festival the destination of choice for tweedy book lovers come springtime
Hay Festival

Rolling hills, organic cider and vast quantities of self-congratulation make the annual Hay Festival the destination of choice for tweedy book lovers come springtime.

This year's shindig (until June 1) promises a veritable orgy of smugness as big guns from Gore Vidal to Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie descend on the Welsh border town to strut their stuff.

Warning: this is not Glastonbury. A cappuccino and a mobile phone, rather than a pair of muddy wellies, are the accessories de jour and don't even think of bringing your dog along unless it can sit politely through a two-hour lecture about the Russian monarchy without whining.

While the bash has lost some of its higgledy piggledy charm since it relocated to the edge of town, the guest list has undoubtedly improved with Vidal and co joined by Cherie Booth and Boris Spassky, the Russian chess supremo, who'll be playing 20 members of the public simultaneously - and pasting them all, no doubt.

Transport can be an issue unless you're driving (train to nearby Hereford, then a taxi), as is accommodation. But while BBs will be booked up this late in the day, tents can be pitched at the Tangerine Fields and Wye Meadow campsites, and villagers sometimes hawk out rooms on the local tourist information website.

www.hayfestival.com.

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