Most ‘quirky’ UK town is ‘every bookworm’s dream’

Hay-on-Wye: Aerial views show Welsh town in Powys

This eccentric town is world-famous for being the ‘Town of Books’ as it is home to over 20  bookshops and hosts a yearly book festival which has been described as “the Woodstock of the mind” by former president Bill Clinton. 

Hay-on-Wye is located in Powys on the border between Wales and England. It has been described as “literally every bookworm’s dream” due to its many bookstores and the famous Hayes Book Festival, which runs both in the summer and winter. 

This extraordinary place as so are many magnificent bookshops, such as Richard Booth’s Bookshop which extends to over three floors, the Francis Edwards bookshop which holds over 10,000 antique books and the Bookshop Cinema, which, as the name suggests, is both a cinema as well as a bookshop 

There are also speciality bookshops such as the bright yellow Murder and Mayhem store which sells crime fiction and the Children’s Bookshop, which as the name indicates supplies books for youngsters.

However, this river-side town may have been put on the map due to its love for books but is worth a visit due to its charming and easy-going atmosphere, as there are still plenty of things to do in Hay-on-Wye that extend beyond book pages.

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The main attraction of Hay-on-Wye may be its many quirky bookshops, but visitors are encouraged to visit Hay Castle at the heart of the town. In Welsh folklore, Norman castle is said to have been built by the noble lady Maud de Braose, who, in some stories, is a giantess who built the castle in just one night. 

Hay Castle was been burned to the ground several times in its history, with the latest being in 1975 when the castle was being used as a bookstore as well as a place for parties. 

The area is also known for its breathtaking scenery, as Hay-on-Wye is named after the nearby River Wye, one of the longest rivers in Britain.  There are wooden banks and a riverside meadow which makes this place an extraordinary place to walk no matter the season.

 South of the towns is also the Black Mountains, which mark the border between Wales and England. This postcard-perfect landscape means there are plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, canoeing, kayaking and even paddle boarding for anyone looking for adventure.

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While the biggest event of the year in  Hay-on-Wye is the book festivals, several other festivals have popped up over the years, meaning there is likely something interesting happening no matter what time of year you visit. 

There is the Dark Sky Festival, a stargazing holiday in which visitors can learn more about astronomy, the Hay Walking Festival in which people are encouraged to walk and explore the local area, the Chamber Music Festival, which explores music throughout history but is greatly influenced by music taken from folklore and fantasy as well as many other events happening around the town. 

However, the best time to visit Hay-on-Wye is on a Thursday which is the town’s weekly Market Day in which 40 traders sell their wares. Some stalls at this fun event sell jewellery, clothes and even pet items but there are also local food products such as artisan bread, locally reared meat, jams, cheeses, coffee and much more, which means you will never go hungry in this quaint town. 

On social media, many book lovers have recommended Hay-on-Wye as a place they can never get tired of. One enthusiastic visitor wrote: “Hayes is my second home, I have spent way too much money and time here but it was utterly brilliant” while another user commented: “This town is literally every bookworm’s dream, I have not been to a more delightful town. Heaven really does exist!” 

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