With the country in lockdown, literary festivals up and down the country have had to make a big decision: cancel their festival all together or take the plunge and go digital.
Many have chosen to simply cancel their festivals for 2020 and have made the promise to return in 2021, bigger and better than ever. But there are a select few who have decided to move their content online instead.
Hay Festival and Bradford Literary Festival are two of the ones who have chosen to take the plunge. Hay Festival has created an extensive online hub, with various talks, interviews and events to take part in. Dubbed “Hay Player,” the Hay Festival’s online platform boasts hundreds of events, which the public has unlimited access to for just £10. If you are not able to financially commit, however, don’t worry! There are a number of free broadcasts to enjoy as well! Rather than create a complete day-by-day brochure, as you would expect at an in-person festival, Hay Festival have instead organised their events on Hay Player into categories, making it easy to find the event you want.
Bradford Literary Festival is another festival which has made the move to the digital realm. Their online program includes On Demand events, as well as Zoom Conference Calls. As a result, their online program operates in much the same way it would under normal circumstances, with one key difference. You don’t have to leave your sofa! Unlike Hay Festival, Bradford have chosen to organise their events by date, as they are hosting some events live. This enables you to have an experience as close to the traditional festival experience as possible!
I think the decision to move online is a great one, especially in times like this. It is important to try and recreate a semblance of normality, so it is a very positive thing that these literary festivals have made the effort to transfer themselves online. Even though you can’t have the full experience of going to see a talk in person, you are still able to make that connection to the speaker, even with a screen between you.