24-27 May

HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival that gathers world-leading thinkers, politicians and comedians together with the hottest music performers, highlights 12 unmissable events at this year’s festival.

“Who would have thought that a philosophy festival could be so entertaining?… A rare combination of fascination and fun. ★★★★★” The Independent (2018)

Featured in The Best UK Music Festivals of 2019, Evening Standard
“Back to big thinking” The Guardian

HowTheLightGetsIn is set in a magical riverside location on the edge of the Black Mountains, in the famed book town of Hay.

By day, this glorious stretch of the river Wye is host to thought-provoking debates and talks, award-winning art and cinema exhibitions, and lunchtime yoga retreats. In the evening, the site transforms into a party like no other, with the hottest bands and cabaret acts, edgiest comedians, and unforgettable DJ sets.

You can view the full programme at www.howthelightgetsin.org/hay.

1. The Neuroscience of Sex: Daphna Joel takes on the myth of male and female brains
Psychobiologist Daphna Joel will take on The Neuroscience of Sex, arguing that our current assumptions about biological sex need to be challenged. She examines the evidence, and puts forward her theory that male and female brains are not different by nature – but that our brains are instead better described by mosaic-like variation. She asks her audience: why do we perceive in two gendered categories if this doesn’t reflect what we see in human brains?

2. Catch a spellbinding headline set from Anna Calvi
Double Mercury Prize and Brit Award nominee Anna Calvi burst onto the music scene in 2011 with her award-winning debut album. Calvi’s spectacular live performances, with her operatic voice and virtuoso guitar playing, have left audiences spellbound: hardly surprising that she has since collaborated with everyone from Noah and the Whale to Morrissey, along with art-rock legend Brian Eno who described Calvi as ‘the best thing since Patti Smith.’

3. Discuss ideas over dinner with bestselling philosopher Julian Baggini
At HowTheLightGetsIn’s unique Open Platform dinners, festivalgoers dine with headline speakers – such as best-selling philosopher Julian Baggini, who will join guests for an intellectual feast where the discussion will explore how we can understand the self and our relationship to others. Discuss ideas over a four-course dinner with the world’s leading thinkers in an intimate candlelit setting, as the wine flows with the conversation and the sun sets over the Black Mountains in the distance.

4. Pride, Prejudice and Philosophy: world-leading philosophers make the case for decolonising our thinking
Recent student campaigns to decolonise the curriculum have made headline news, igniting heated debate about Western biases in our teaching and learning. Yet universities still largely dismiss non-Western thought, and critics argue that it is high time we challenge the prejudices at the heart of the academy. Do ‘great ideas’ exist independent of time, place and tradition? Is philosophy truly about the search for universal truths, or do we need to wake up to the reality of Western prejudice? Join Professor of Comparative Philosophy Chakravarthi Ram-Prasad, Oxford logician Timothy Williamson and political theorist Nivi Manchanga as they interrogate the limits of Western philosophy.

5. Nine-to-Five, or Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll?: Ab Fab star Helen Lederer questions What It’s All For
We admire the highly ambitious, and define ourselves by our careers and achievements. Why, then, do so many of us spend out lives waiting for weekends and holidays? Ab Fab star Helen Lederer, Director of the Einstein Forum and author of Why Grow Up? Susan Neiman, and CEO of The Business Romantic Society Tim Leberecht join forces to take on the biggest question of all, asking: should our work define our lives? Or is play – be it creative endeavour, or just sex, drugs and rock and roll – where living really happens? Should we embrace play as vital to who we are, rejecting work and achievement as a mug’s game, or is play just a passing and superficial pleasure that gives us no lasting satisfaction?

6. Wickedly subversive cabaret from sequin-clad satirists Bourgeois & Maurice
Catch the politically-charged, latex-garbed double act Bourgeois & Maurice, with their highly theatrical kaleidoscope of current affairs, moral confusion and slippery social commentary. With their outrageous stage presences and taboo-trashing lyrics, taking in everything from shy Toryism to the pitfalls of being left out of a chemsex party, they’re guaranteed to bring the house down.

7. In Vino Veritas: join the symposium at Wine-Tasting and Philosophy
Don’t miss Wine-Tasting and Philosophy with Barry C. Smith, the philosopher of wine who brings tasting to life for connoisseurs and amateurs alike. Join Barry as he takes his audience on a uniquely philosophical tour of the senses, from Dionysus to dry whites, Haut-Brion to hedonism.

8. Dance into the night at the Riverside Disco
Secret location adventurers Alfresco Disco have taken over spaces from Shambala to underground railroads in Bristol, and return to HowTheLightGetsIn as resident curators of the Riverside Disco for an extraordinary beat-driven bash. Praised by Crack magazine as “the best party Crack has ever had the pleasure of attending,” wherever Alfresco go, late night debauchery will follow in classic Bristolian style. According to Vice, “since 2005 they have been throwing stranger, wilder and braver secret parties… they have grown bigger and bolder with age.” Get ready to dance until your feet hurt as Alfresco bring their unforgettable DJs to this spellbinding riverside setting.

9. Unwind away from the mayhem at a Yoga session
Meditate your way into the morning amid stunning rural scenery as the sun rises over the Welsh Mountains, or catch a moment of tranquility at a lunchtime yoga session. There’s something for everyone, with classes designed both for beginners and experienced students – and even family yoga sessions designed with parents and children in mind.

10. Open the doors of perception, as cognitive psychologist Donald Hoffman makes The Case Against Reality
Is reality how it appears? Or is nothing as it seems? Professor of Cognitive Science and author of the hotly-anticipated The Case Against Reality Donald Hoffman puts forward the radical suggestion that our perceptions fail to map onto reality. Hoffman argues that our perceptions, far from being a window on reality, are interfaces constructed by natural selection, and that the world is nothing like what we see before our eyes. Drawing on evolutionary biology, game theory, computer science and philosophy, his groundbreaking research challenges our most basic assumptions about the way we see the world around us.

11. Fiery and funny stand-up from award-winning comedian Ahir Shah
Celebrated British comedian and festival favourite Ahir Shah returns to HowTheLightGetsIn with two nominations for Best Show at the Edinburgh Comedy Awards under his belt. Ahir’s current show, DUFFER, debuted at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, where it enjoyed a critically acclaimed sell-out run and earned Shah his second Best Show nomination in a row. His fiery and funny stand up is political comedy at its finest, and has been described as “charismatic and of rewardingly cerebral approach” (The Guardian), and “intricately crafted, profoundly moving, howlingly funny. ★★★★★ ” (The Daily Telegraph).

12. Catch stunning live performers British Sea Power
Indie icons British Sea Power boast admirers from Lou Reed to David Bowie. British Sea Power have played everywhere from on top of the Great Wall of China to underground CERN atomic research labs, and their penchant for spectacular live locations takes them to the Wye Valley this May. Famed for their live performances, it’s not surprising that the intensity and invention of the band’s shows have earned them Time Out magazine’s Live Band of the Year award. This is one you can’t afford to miss!

Taking place 24 – 27 May, HowTheLightGetsIn will feature more than 300 events, including over 100 debates and talks alongside 200 musicians and performers, comedians as well as banquets, film, parties, cabaret and more. There’s nowhere else in the world where you can dance into the night with the world’s leading thinkers to the sounds of Mercury Prize nominees. Get ready for a unique party like no other.

Advance tickets for the full weekend are available from £144. Full weekend camping tickets start from £164, day tickets start from £38. All students and under 25s are eligible for a 30% discount.

For tickets and details please visit www.howthelightgetsin.org/

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