Our 2018 programme packs in more ideas, music, magic and wonder than ever before.
For one weekend, our festival site on the edge of the Black Mountains transforms into a sumptuous world of spectacle, sound and learning, populated by the most important minds of our time, the most talented performers, and, of course, you.
Explore exotic delights tucked away in idyllic corners , catch a glimpse of the future at one of our uncompromisingly forward-thinking discussions and revel into the night to the freshest electronic music at at our legendary after-hours parties - with over 400 events taking place, a weekend with us can be whatever you make of it
HowTheLightGetsIn is more than just an unrivalled programme of debates and music. Each year we lovingly construct a space of wonder and delight, a beautiful escape from all the shackles of the day-to-day. Our festival is a haven for the curious, a place to roam around in pristine countryside and rediscover the things that make life wonderful. From our decadent masked balls and Medieval feasts to the scintillating sights of the Spiegel Circus, HowTheLightGetsIn is built on spine-tingling, life-affirming moments that stay with you for the rest of the year. Come to Hay-on-Wye and step into a playground for the soul.
Whether you're after a spectacular four course banquet or a quick snack between sessions; exotic world foods, local ciders or a slice of homemade cake, you'll find a whole range of exceptional eateries across the two festival sites.
Sample everything from fresh summer salads to barbequed meats and rustic, artisan bread in our Globe Kitchen, a pop-up restaurant boasting a delicious array of freshly prepared, locally procured and sustainably sourced food.
We've got a really special new addition to the festival this year - the Waterfront Bar & Kitchen. This magical riverside restaurant, bar and music venue is open from 8am to 2am, serving award-winning food accompanied by the best acoustic acts.
The Waterfront is also home to our convivial long table banquets where you can join friends old and new, and enjoy a four-course feast in our spellbinding festival banquet hall.
Set on the edge of the Black Mountains, alongside the Wye in the famed book town of Hay, HowTheLightGetsIn has a magical location. But that is the backdrop for the real magic to come.
"There is a crack in everything...that's how the light gets in" goes the Leonard Cohen song from which the festival gets its name. And HowTheLightGetsIn brings its own special form of magic to everyone. There is no other place on the planet where you can meet as many of the world's leading thinkers, discover the most cutting-edge ideas, and party and dance late into the night.
At HowTheLightGetsIn 2018 festival you can join a debate about the nature of the universe with the world's top scientists, laugh until your sides hurt with the UK's best comedians, dance by the river to the finest beats, dine with our speakers in Open Platform events or indulge yourself with four course long table banquets.
HowTheLightGetsIn is not just another festival. There's something special in the air. It's alive with ideas in every field of endeavour. Our programme has many names you will recognise but HowTheLightGetsIn is not about status or celebrity. We are about ideas and wonder and creating a space where everyone's imagination can flourish. Find the bands you've never heard of, discover ground-breaking ideas that have yet to make their mark, contribute yourself and your thoughts, and magic will come your way.
And from you:
"I know of nowhere else that provides such inspiration, opportunity and hedonistic delight. We look forward to it all year."
"A really wonderful, creative and inclusive space"
"Informed, glorious, my utopia!"
The world's leading thinkers debate the biggest ideas.
At HowTheLightGetsIn we bring you the planet's greatest thinkers, from philosophers to Nobel prize winners, from the most perceptive novelists to the most incisive columnists.
Our speakers for 2018 include the likes of Noam Chomsky, Anna Soubry, Peter Tatchell, Diane Abbott, Stanley Fish, Kimberlé Crenshaw, John McWhorter and Rowan Williams.
So, from the philosophy of post-truth and contemporary physics, to the future of feminism and the mystery of experience, HowTheLightGetsIn 2018 will be bursting with ideas to ignite your imagination
Take part in our debates and talks and catch sight of the future.
Our music programme is what makes HowTheLightGetsIn unique ... Nowhere else on earth are ideas and hedonism so closely intertwined.
We carefully handpick a programme that combines your favourite bands with breakthrough acts, from exhilarating dance beats to enchanting solo singers. Day and night, discover in the nooks and crannies of our sites every music genre from tribal dance to Welsh male choirs, and of course our legendary nightly themed parties.
Our music line-up for 2018 includes the likes of The Orb, Hot Chip (DJ Set), Badly Drawn Boy, The Correspondents, Ana Matronic and Nerina Pallot.
"The art and soul of the party"
Previous acts have included Clean Bandit, Laura Marling, Fairport Convention, British Sea Power, Andrew Weatherall, and Ghostpoet... and a few thousand others.
HowTheLightGetsIn is returning with more ideas, magic, music and wonder than ever before.
Discover ground-breaking ideas, find the bands you've never heard of, contribute yourself and your thoughts, and help create a place where everyone's imagination can flourish.
Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd join the Line-Up
We're very proud to announce that former Labour leader Ed Miliband and veteran radio host Geoff Lloyd will be bringing their hit podcast Reasons to be Cheerful to HowTheLightGetsIn for a special live edition. Expect optimism, ideas, special guests, stories of Ed’s failed interactions with inanimate objects, and Geoff’s interactions with animate ones.
HowTheLightGets in is set in a magical location on the edge of the Black Mountains, alongside the river Wye in the famed book town of Hay.
We've grown since we started. But we've kept our intimate scale. Our venues are small enough to encourage real conversation, electric enough to make the dancing spin.
If you've been to Hay, you'll know why this small town draws US Presidents and Nobel Prize winners, critics and intellectuals alike into its orbit. If you haven't, it's time to see what all the fuss is about.
A wide range of accommodation options to suit all group sizes and all tastes, set against the backdrop of the Black Mountains.
Getting to Hay
Our postcode: HR3 5BG.
The site address is: HowTheLightGetsIn, globe at hay, Newport Street, Hay on Wye, Hereford
By train / bus
The nearest railway station is Hereford, about twenty miles away. Our Travel Partner First Great Western runs direct trains to Hereford. Purchase tickets at firstgreatwestern.co.uk. The bus service from Hereford and Brecon to Hay-on-Wye (39 or 39A) is frequent with additional services for the period of the festival.
National Express run coaches to Hay from London Victoria, London Heathrow, Cirencester and Gloucester, Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield, Derby, Birmingham and Worcester.
Hay-on-Wye is situated between Brecon and Hereford, off the A345. You will find parking for HowTheLightGetsIn, as you enter Hay from Clyro and Hereford. For the Globe Site cross the bridge over the River Wye into Hay, turn left and the festival site is at once apparent.
Julie’s Taxis 07899 846 592
A2B Taxis 01874 658 899
A1 Cabs 07910 931 999