For the fifth year running, we provided the technical production for the annual Hay Festival of Literature and the Arts. The event is held across a huge four-hectare site in Hay-On-Wye, Wales. Celebrating language, art and science, the festival, which is now in its twenty-ninth year, attracts literacy fans for ten days of storytelling, creative thinking and world-class writing.

The spacious site is temporarily home to eight performance spaces that play host to film and television stars, poets and writers in the day, as well as musical performances by night. Hawthorn provided lighting, sound, AV, staging, drapes and power to the festival which is set in the beautiful Welsh borders.



We installed theatrical lighting into each space – from the main venue, the Tata Tent, fitted with Clay Paky Alpha Spot moving lights, LED par can’s, Impression GLP’s and Source Fresnels – to the smallest venue, which used LED fixtures. Kitting out the venues is no small feat, with 450 lighting fixtures, 2km of cable, 300m of truss and 200m of drape installed over the eight-day build.

Six Christie Projectors were used to show video content in the performance spaces, with 55” LED displays acting as relay screens in the larger venues. Eight LED displays also featured around the site, displaying important information to visitors.

For audio, both of the main venues used a D&B V-Series line array this year, with smaller venues utilising a mixture of Martin Audio and D&B systems. 110 smaller speakers were also installed and the Yamaha QL sound desks were used across the site. In the larger venues such as the Tata Tent and Telegraph, Digico SD8 and SD9 consoles were used. A radio mic frequency plot was also created to facilitate the 80 channels of radio microphone that were installed around the site.

Utilising three-hundred distribution units and nine kilometres of cable ranging from power lock down to 13a, Hawthorn provided power distribution from both the mains and four synchronised generators - to venues, catering areas and back-of-house areas across the entire site.

As guests navigated their way through the festival, a soft and welcoming feel was created using 3km of LED festoon, lighting the walkways, covered areas and the main entrance. Internal lighting was kept to the same theme using LED globe lights, with external lighting making use of 50w LED flood units and coloured halides.


“Each year the project gets bigger and more complicated, but my team works so well with Hawthorn that the improvements always appear seamless. This year we had an emphasis on fuel saving with the biggest % of LED lighting ever, resulting in lower fuel use and decreased CO2 emissions.

“This year, TV output played a large part in the events with Hay generating all content internally and supplying all the feeds to the BBC. Greater emphasis was placed on the lighting and sound design and our team were able to achieve exactly the right result for our broadcast partners with Hawthorns help. Hay is a collaborative effort, and I look forward to a continuing relationship with Hawthorn in the years to come.”
Paul Elkington, Technical Director