Page last updated at 08:58 GMT, Friday, 17 April 2009 09:58 UK

Woodstock for the Mind is Belfast bound

Tony Curtis
Tony Curtis will be at the festival to talk 'sex drugs and cinema'

One of the most prestigious literature and arts festivals in Europe is on its way to Belfast at the end of May.

Once described by Bill Clinton as "Woodstock for the Mind", the Hay Festival takes place in the Welsh town of Hay-on-Wye.

But this year it is expanding its reach with a week of events in Belfast, centred around the Ulster Hall.

Among those who'll be taking part are Hollywood legend Tony Curtis who, according to the main Hay programme, will be talking "sex, drugs and cinema".

Others appearing are the historian and broadcaster Niall Ferguson and the Liverpool poet Roger McGough.

Sarah Waters the author of Fingersmith, The Night Watch and Tipping The Velvet will be talking about her new novel, The Little Stranger, described as a" chilling ghost story" set in 1940s Warwickshire.

They will experience the very special pleasure that an audience in Belfast constitutes
Carlo Gebler

The author Carlo Gebler said it will cater to an obvious demand.

"The council in terms of literature and the arts have been doing fantastic work," he said.

"They had a festival at the end of last year, they got Will Self, they had the Spiegeltent from the Edinburgh book festival, they brought over Graham Rawle who makes these rather wonderful books that combine text and picture. That event was packed."


The Hay Festival was first held in 1988 and has expanded into a huge, corporate-sponsored, ten-day extravaganza featuring music and film performances and a children's festival alongside hundreds of literary events.

Mr Gebler said the authors coming to Belfast can expect something a bit different.

"They will experience the very special pleasure that an audience in Belfast constitutes.

"We're much more straightforward in the questions we ask.

"We're not impolite but when I went to the Will Self event the question were extraordinarily frank as were the answers. It was really interesting, it was very spin free."

The events in Belfast will take place from 23 May to 31 May with full details to be announced soon.

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