‘‘LIT’ Destinations,  Passports

Explore The Town of Books Hidden in the Welsh Countryside

This small Welsh town is known for its unique and bountiful bookstores along with its annual literary festival

There is something peaceful about the Welsh countryside. I spent a week basking in the natural beauty of lush, green rolling hills with small pockets of sheep grazing the grounds. You’ll have no cell phone signal and forced to indulge in the stillness of the calm breeze. The lost connection to the outside was daunting and slightly frustrating but as I spent more time there, I appreciate the silence and the peace. It was a chance for me to finally disconnect from the world and focus on the things that brought me solace. 

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The purpose of my trip revolved around the small, sleepy town of Hay-On-Wye surrounding by rural plains. It was time for the annual Hay Festival, an annual literary festival where locals and travelers convene to talk literary greats. The festival has become a symbol of the country love of literary writing and a chance to convene with others to bond over your favorite authors and discover some new ones. It is a chance to camp under the stars where it gained the reputation of being the ‘Woodstock of Books’ where some of the most prominent writers in the industry have come to present their literary works.

Tents at the Haye Festival

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The town of Hay-On-Wye takes pride in its history and that can be seen in their collection of antique and second-hand stores for all sorts of items outside of books. The town can thank Richard Booth, a Welsh bookseller whose bookstore is still the center of the town and is the self-proclaimed “King of Hay” for his contributions to making the town famous for its book. His store still attracts visitors passing through and is the center of its eclectic collection shops.

Richard Booth’s bookstore

During one of my days off, I decided to go into town and explore. In the United Kingdom, Hay-On-Wye is beloved by bibliophiles as the “town of books”. There is no regular bookstore here and you won’t find big retail names here. Each shop is unique in its own right. I traveled around and coddle up to my favorite authors and some I was just introduced to in specialty themed bookshops. I got to walk into a store that was dedicated to poetry and had rare editions of Shakespeare sonnets. I got lost for hours in a murder-mystery shop dedicated to amazing suspense-driven titles. No one shop was the same and for any book lover, it was a fulfilling experience.

So don’t be afraid to go off the grid for a while. Enjoy the quiet of the countryside and dive into a whole of books for the weekend.

Photo Credit: Dana Givens / Love and Passports

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