A Unique Festival of Ideas and Music
HowTheLightGetsIn returns to Hay-on-Wye in May 2018 with more ideas, music, magic and wonder than ever before. For one weekend, the world's leading thinkers flock to our festival site on the edge of the Black Mountains. Elsewhere in our fields, an inspiring programme of music, comedy and performance art unfolds across our intimate and atmospheric venues.
We've just announced our full speaker and debate line-up and a limited number of Tier 2 tickets are now available! Don't miss your chance to hear from Noam Chomsky, Sophie Fiennes, Warren Ellis, Peter Tatchell, David Nutt, Matthew d'Ancona, Lawrence Krauss, Jack Halberstam, Diane Abbott, Neil Strauss, and many, many more.
A Unique Festival of Ideas and Music
HowTheLightGetsIn Festival returns to Hay-on-Wye next summer with more ideas, magic, music and wonder than ever before. On the edge of the Black Mountains, alongside the river Wye, throughout the festival you'll find the world's leading thinkers debating cutting edge ideas as well as an inspiring programme of music, comedy, culture and performance all set in atmospheric and intimate venues.
We've just announced our first few festival speakers and debates and a limited number of Tier 2 tickets are now available! Don't miss your chance to hear from Noam Chomsky, Sophie Fiennes, David Nutt, Matthew d'Ancona, Gideon Rachman, Lawrence Krauss, Jack Halberstam, Diane Abbott, and many, many more.
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.
Speakers and Debates
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.
What People Say
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!"
A faculty to rival any university teach two-part courses throughout the festival.
The last programme saw lecturers include world-leading figures like Nobel Prize-winning physicist Frank Wilczek through to civil rights advocate and scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw.
IAI Academy represents a new kind of learning - presenting the most original scholars in an accessible forum to explore and develop new ways of thinking.
Long Table Banquets
It's not just minds that can feast at HowTheLightGetsIn. Every lunch and evening, our resident chefs lay out a sumptuous four-course meal, ready for you to enter a world of spectacle and sensual delight.
You'll have fine food and finer conversation. There'll be cabaret, dancing and performance all night. It won't easily be forgotten.
Recline in the candle-lit cosy hush of the cinema. A gateway to discovery and the perfect compliment to your festival experience, whether you need a night off from dancing or a different pathway into the strange realm of ideas.
Brought to you by TVF International - the world's leading independent provider of documentaries - HotDocs showcases a whole host of fascinating documentaries, so that you'll never lack for stimulation and intrigue between sessions. Settle down in the comfy shade of the pavillion and enjoy the show.
Discover ground-breaking ideas, lose yourself with our fantastic music, and let your imagination flourish.
Who said rides are only for children? Play on the Carousel, lose yourself on the Helter Skelter, and wonder at the Black Mountains from the Ferris Wheel. We're sure Wittgenstein would approve.
So, step right up — ladies and gentleman, young and old, boys and girls, Nobel Prize-winning economists and members of the shadow cabinet — all the fun of the fair is waiting!
Debates and Talks
Debate is the beating heart of HowTheLightGetsIn. Ideas are alive and evolving. At the edge there is rarely consensus. HowTheLightGetsIn gathers together the leading thinkers in every field to think through the present and find new ways of understanding the world. Over the festival there are more than a hundred debates probing where we are and where we are heading. Alongside this debate programme there are solo talks chosen to identify the most original and compelling ideas of our time.
We attract thought leaders from around the world, from Nobel Prize-winning economists Paul Krugman and Robert Shiller, to writers AS Byatt and Martin Amis, from scientists John Ellis and Lawrence Krauss, to philosophers Roger Scruton and Noam Chomsky, and politicians from Michael Howard to Angela Eagle and Diane Abbott. The conversations we facilitate shape the cultural and intellectual landscape of the country.
Debates run in the wonderful Hall space of the Globe as well as in the International Tent. Or you can get up close and personal with the great thinkers of our time in the Ring, an intimate venue hosting our porgramme of incisive solo talks.
The HowTheLightGetsIn Story
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.
Music and Performance
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.
As night begins to fall, the Ring turns from a hub of intellectual activity into a den of hilarity and mayhem. But of course the jokes are smart too. With an indecently funny comedy line-up, curated by the critically acclaimed comedian Alex Kealy, the laughs are (almost) guaranteed to drown out the party next door. In the past we've been joined by comics such as Marcus Brigstocke and Robin Ince rubbing shoulders with some of the best up-and-coming talent on the UK comedy circuit.
As the greatest minds of our time gather for a drink and a meal, take your seat alongside them for a truly unique experience. Converse with Nobel laureates, challenge the shadow cabinet and explore the universe with particle physicists. Be part of the company, not merely an observer. You won't get many chances like it!
Become a Friend of the IAI
The Institute of Art and Ideas: the organisation behind HowTheLightGetsIn. Join a community of like-minded idea-seekers, with 20% discounts on all IAI event tickets, invitation to exclusive events at HowTheLightGetsIn, tailored competition prizes, and the opportunity to contribute to our programme. Find out more here.
With all the sensual delights and intellectual stimulation on offer, everyone needs a moment to pause. Gather your thoughts or simply let them drift away as you enter the serene haven of the spa. Meditate your way into the morning as the sun rises over the Welsh Mountains, or catch a rare moment of pure tranquility at a lunchtime yoga session. Let time stand still and feel your troubles melt away with a massage from welcoming and experienced practitioners, or take a breath and recover your strength before heading back out to dance all night.
Escape to a razzle-dazzle world of adrenaline-fuelled intrigue and pure imagination. The Circus will delight and amaze with a visual feast of aerial and acrobatic performances, flying trapeze, tightrope walkers and stunningly slick acts that will leave you breathless.
For the evening performance, the family-friendly show will be swept away for a more glamorous, sultry affair. Breaking the barriers of comedy, circus and vaudeville, the show invites you to a magical bygone era of decadence, delight and burlesque.
After the euphoria of the day events comes the Masked Ball - the most decadent of parties, where festival goers shed their identities at the door and lose themselves in a sea of colourful masks, glitz, glamour and free-flowing libations.
In 2016 we had a number of party legends and music luminaries on deck to kick up the jams. including King of Clubland Justin Roberston, DJ Jim Eliot and Magic Hatstand, who brought their trademark psychedelic hatstand with hundreds of hats that fuelled the fun and kept ravers dancing until dawn. Expect more of the same in 2018!