Saturday, June 04, 2016

Love Letter To Hay On Wye - HowTheLightGetsIn Festival2016 Part 1

As you may be aware, on Thursday 2nd July I had the opportunity to attend HowTheLightGetsIn festival as press. In this blog, I introduce Hay-on-Wye, the home of HowTheLightGetsIn Festival, because this town deserves a post of its own to set up an understanding of the festival.

For those of you who don't know Hay-On-Wye (The Town of Books), it is a small market town which has magic streaming out of its maze of nooks and crannies.

As I wrote the first draft for this I was sat on the sunny cobbled streets of the castle grounds with two dogs (not my own) sunbathing and staring at me. I had the cool crisp taste of Pontrilas' Ty Gwyn cider sparkling on my tongue. The smell of spices is intermingling with the music in the air and I feel held in a sensory infatuation spell. I am alone and I am in love.

I introduced Hay (as it's lovingly shortened by locals) as magical because it embodies a cultural fascination. Hay balances upon the border of England and Wales - my two home counties (Herefordshire and Powys respectively). This is a town where you can find Pagan Green Man images carved into Christian chapels. The centrepiece, Hay Castle, roots itself into its hill of books. Hay-on-Wye brings out magic of inbetween places - meshing cultures, histories, languages and constantly filling itself with both new and ancient voices through its books and festivals.

Despite being a spiritual home for me (this Wenglish girl), I recognise how quaint and strange this little piece of the world must seem to adventurers here. Colourful bunting lines the streets, shops run on "honesty systems" are commonplace and upon meeting a stranger you will say hello and have a good chance of learning each other's backgrounds. Pathways remind drivers that they are for pedestrians, dogs and horses. Old windows and doors are painted with figures who watch over you as you pass. As a lone female blogger, laden with my bursting backpack, I feel completely safe and haven't even contemplated my personal alarm. On my trip here, I make friends with women who are also travelling alone here. Children love Hay and Hay loves children. This town is both sleepy and humming with voices. It feels like a natural home for HowTheLightGetsIn festival.

Being a relatively unknown place which would struggle to even declare itself in just one country, let alone be celebrated as an individual nation's capital of culture. However, the festivals here make it a source of a wider national pride and respect. For a few weeks Hay gets celebrated as the hub of arts and voices that it is. Despite being a place where you find many people like me - coming from years of geographical ancestry - Hay is certainly a welcoming place to all people. Being on the borders of nations and with books and voices falling united into it - there is an innate appreciation for differences and always a friendly face for all new adventurers here. We know you'll love it, just like us.

As it is a place with little (and trouble seeking) funding from a particular county or nation, it is a place where individual innovation thrives. People create a true living here and frequently uncover their talents and capabilities in the process - family businesses can be found all around and there is an understanding that where you can support these ventures, you do.

There are a few places in this world where I feel truly myself and Hay is one of them. This is the natural place for HowTheLightGetsIn festival to celebrate philosophy and music.

See my next post for more information, specific to HowTheLightGetsIn festival 2016.

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