Wye River, Hay-on-Wye © Claire Ward
Culture vultures visiting the UK are urged to visit Hay-on-Wye, a charming market-town located within the boundaries of Brecon Beacons National Park. Widely referred to as the 'Town of Books', Hay-on-Wye is the bibliophile's equivalent of Mecca, featuring more than 30 second-hand bookstores, many of which stock collector's items and hard-to-find rarities. Hay-on-Wye hosts the annual Hay Festival, one of the biggest literary festivals on the planet, drawing crowds in excess of 80,000 people, who come to attend lectures and readings given by some of the world's most eminent writers. The festival is held annually in May or June.
There is more to Hay-on-Wye than simply books, however: the town also boasts lovely architecture, a celebrated collection of quaint pubs and restaurants, the fascinating ruins of two Norman-built castles, and a popular Thursday Market, where all manner of things can be bought, from antiques to hand-made cheeses. The town is also beautifully situated, located on the east bank of the River Wye, just north of the Black Mountains, and surrounded by some lovely countryside, which visitors can explore walking, cycling or driving. For mature visitors to Wales looking for a memorable cultural experience, a visit to Hay-on-Wye is an absolute must.