2016 First Tier Tickets
Tickets and Info
HowTheLightGetsIn is returning with more ideas, magic, music and wonder than ever before. And we've now got tickets that will give you access to everything, just like we promised.
In the magical setting of Hay, there's something special in the air. There is no other place on the planet where you can meet as many of the world's leading thinkers and dance until your feetache.
Discover ground-breaking ideas, find the bands you've never heard of, contribute yourself and your thoughts, and help create a place where everyone's imagination can flourish.
Last Year's Line Up
What People Say
Some Quotes from the Press
And from you:
"I know of nowhere else that provides such inspiration, opportunity and hedonistic delight. We look forward to it all year."
"A really wonderful, creative and inclusive space"
"Informed, glorious, my utopia!"
Escape to a Razzle-Dazzle World.
Escape to a razzle-dazzle world of adrenaline-fuelled intrigue and pure imagination. The Circus will delight and amaze with a visual feast of aerial and acrobatic performances, flying trapeze, tightrope walkers and stunningly slick acts that will leave you breathless.
For the evening performance, the family-friendly show will be swept away for a more glamorous, sultry affair. Breaking the barriers of comedy, circus and vaudeville, the show invites you to a magical bygone era of decadence, delight and burlesque.
The World's Finest Minds
At HowTheLightGetsIn, we aren't interested in big names for big names' sake. Our programme will have many familiar names, but we're not about celebrity. We are about ideas and wonder. We spend the year looking for the heretics of our time, those innovative thinkers unafraid to speak out against the ideas we all take for granted. Even you.
Last year alone we were joined by Nobel Prize winning Economist Paul Krugman, eminent cosmologist and Hawking collaborator Roger Penrose, Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett, Former Conservative Leader Michael Howard, world leading analytic philosopher John Searle, Turner Prize winner Martin Creed, ground-breaking multiverse theorist Laura Mersini-Houghton and Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, amongst others.
But we aren't interested in promoting anyone's ideas. All of our speakers must be willing to have their theories challenged. They too will change the way they think about the world. You'll catch sight of what the future might be. You'll rediscover the magic of being alive. We've democratised debate and created a special place where everyone's imagination can flourish.
We pride ourselves on the unique curation of the programme - the speakers we handpick are diverse in scope, but share a commitment to follow their ideas to wherever they might lead. We refuse to accept that serious ideas must either be dull or dumbed down.
Long Table Banquets
Food & Drinks
It's not just minds that can feast at HowTheLightGetsIn. Every lunch and evening, our resident chefs lay out a decadent four-course meal, ready for you to enter a world of spectacle and sensual delight.
The menu is local, seasonal and changes daily. You'll have fine food and finer conversation. There'll be cabaret, dancing and performance all night. It won't easily be forgotten.
Become a Friend
Play Your Part
The Institute of Art and Ideas is the organisation behind HowTheLightGetsIn. By promoting and providing a platform for all forms of creative expression, the IAI fosters an open and vibrant intellectual culture in the UK, combining innovative thought with rich experience.
To continue bringing the very best in modern thought to the public arena, we need your help. Become a Friend of the IAI today and play your part in the cultural cutting edge.
Aside from knowing you are helping us to change the cultural landscape, one of the benefits of being a Friend is that we offer Friends a 10% discount on festival tickets, as well as the chance to be the first to see the full festival programme and reserve your seats before they're released to the public. Friends also receive an advance copy of our print programme in the post. Sign up here.
Membership is available at checkout and lasts for one year and costs £25 for single or £45 for double membership.
Friends of the IAI receive:
- Discounted ticket prices – enjoy the best of each festival for less.
- A hardcopy of our programme in advance of the festival through the post.
- Regular newsletters – keep up to date with special advanced previews of exclusive upcoming events, IAI video highlights and more throughout the year.
Massage, Yoga, Meditation...
With all the sensual delights and intellectual stimulation on offer, everyone needs a moment to pause. Gather your thoughts or simply let them drift away as you enter the serene haven of the Riverside spa.
Meditate your way into the morning as the sun rises over the Welsh Mountains, or catch a rare moment of pure tranquility at a lunchtime yoga session.
Let time stand still and feel your troubles melt away with a massage from welcoming and experienced practitioners, or take a breath and recover your strength before heading back out to dance all night.
Enter the immersive world of the Hat for a Cabaret experience unlike any other. Expect a kaleidoscope of colour and an electric atmosphere. Each sunset brings with it a dazzling array of new performers. Bring your dancing shoes or just jazz up your wellies, but be prepared for a night of glamorous revelry.
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A Unique Festival of Ideas and Music
Welcome to HowTheLightGetsIn, the world's largest philosophy and music festival, where ideas and the senses run free.
Set on the edge of the Black Mountains alongside the Wye in the famed book town of Hay, HowTheLightGetsIn has a magical location. But that is the backdrop for the real magic to come. "There's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in" goes the Leonard Cohen song from which the festival gets its name. And HowTheLightGetsIn brings its own special form of magic to everyone. There is no other place on the planet where you can meet as many of the world's leading thinkers and dance until your feet ache.
At HowTheLightGetsIn you can join a debate about the nature of the universe with the world's top scientists, laugh until your sides hurt with the UK's best comedians, dance by the river to the finest beats, dine with our speakers in Open Platform events or indulge yourself with four course long table banquets. You'll want to find time to fit in Cabaret at the Hat, view the Black Mountains from the top of our ferris wheel, find yourself spellbound at our riotous Spiegel Circus and enjoy some well earned relaxation and revival at the Spa. All in preparation of course for our nightly themed parties with the hottest bands and the country's leading soloists. With over 700 events, the range, choice and depth of the programme at HowTheLightGetsIn is unmatched. Yet, even though we have grown tenfold since we started, we've kept the intimate scale. Our venues are small enough to encourage real conversation, electric enough to make the dancing spin.
Our heart, though, is in ideas. When we began just six years ago philosophy was something of a joke. Locked in an ivory tower arguing over the meaning of words, to many it resembled the medieval church and had a similar level of relevance to our lives and culture. Our aim was to change this state of affairs. Its goal then and now was to return philosophy to big ideas and put them at the centre of our culture. Not in aid of a more refined cultural life but as an urgent call to rethink where we are.
Ideas are alive and evolving and at the edge there is rarely consensus. That's why ideas matter - because they are in dispute. When they turn into knowledge and are recylced in textbooks they are in a sense already dead. That's why debates are at the heart of our programme and why HowTheLightGetsIn is not about dusting off agreed areas of knowledge and conveying them to the public. Instead we try to stand at the edge and look forward in search of new and better ways to hold the world in an attempt to address the challenges that face us.
HowTheLightGetsIn is not just another literary festival or music festival. There's something special in the air. It's alive with ideas in every field of endeavour. Our programme has many names you will recognise but HowTheLightGetsIn is not about status or celebrity. We are about ideas and wonder and creating a space where everyone's imagination can flourish. Find the bands you've never heard of, discover ground-breaking ideas that have yet to make their mark, contribute yourself and your thoughts, and magic will come your way.
2015 Video Highlights
A Taste of What's To Come
Music and Performance
Our music programme is what makes HowTheLightGetsIn unique. For nowhere else are ideas and hedonism so closely intertwined. We carefully handpick a Festival Live programme that combines favourites with the cutting edge. From exhilarating dance beats to enchanting solo singers, every taste is catered to. Day and night, discover in the nooks and crannies of our idyllic sites every music genre from tribal dance to Welsh male choirs, and of course our legendary nightly themed parties.
Debates and Talks
The Known, The Strange and The New
Debate is the beating heart of HowTheLightGetsIn. Ideas are alive and evolving. At the edge there is rarely consensus. HowTheLightGetsIn gathers together the leading thinkers in every field to think through the present and find new ways of understanding the world. Over the festival there are more than a hundred debates probing where we are and where we are heading. Alongside this debate programme there are solo talks chosen to identify the most original and compelling ideas of our time.
This year's theme is 'The Known, the Strange and the New'. We'll be looking for the strange in search of the new. For every time we think we have gotten to the bottom of something, be it in science or morality, philosophy or politics, the unexpected and inexplicable has a habit of cropping up. Something strange defies our expectations. Something that doesn't make sense, something that doesn't fit. This year, we're tackling strangeness head on, going boldly in search of the new.
Each day of HowTheLightGetsIn we unravel different aspects of this theme. On the first weekend, the Bank Holiday Festival, we look at the Big Picture, Mind & Body and Politics & Society. During our Midweek Festival we turn to Personal Values, Art & Aesthetics and The Human World. And for the second weekend, our Finale Festival we focus on Science, and The Transcendental before closing with Culture and Play.
Debates run in the wonderful Hall space of the Globe as well as in the International Tent. Or you can get up close and personal with the great thinkers of our time in the Ring, an intimate venue hosting our porgramme of incisive solo talks.
Dine and Debate With Our Speakers
Open Platform is your chance have your say on the day's topics over a drink and a meal.
These unique events sit you shoulder to shoulder with some of the world's great thinkers. If there's a question you've always wanted to ask a speaker, if you think they got it wrong in a debate, or if you just want to continue the conversation, here’s your chance. You might not get one anywhere else.
Cutting Edge Courses on the Ideas that Matter
IAI Academy gives you the chance to take courses taught by a leading faculty of the world's greatest minds. Throughout the festival, the big thinkers of our time gather to teach two-part courses, each presenting a course on the issues that they think matter to us all. There is plenty of opportunity to meet others attending the course as well as your lecturer over tea and coffee both before and during the course.
In a Wikipedia age our courses are not designed simply to convey the agreed facts since we can all look them up at the touch of a screen. Ideas are alive and evolving. At the leading edge of thought there is rarely consensus. The IAI Academy is about understanding those debates. It's about understanding that even our world-leading lecturers will be putting forward their opinion and their view. Sometimes controversial, but incisive, gripping and of real import.
Cutting Edge Documentaries
Recline in the candle-lit cosy hush of the cinema. A gateway to discovery and the perfect compliment to your festival experience, whether you need a night off from dancing or a different pathway into the strange realm of ideas.
Brought to you by TVF International – the world's leading independent provider of documentaries – HotDocs showcases a whole host of fascinating documentaries, so that you'll never lack for stimulation and intrigue between sessions. Settle down in the comfy shade of the pavillion and enjoy the show.
All the Fun of the Fair
Who said rides are only for children? Play on the Carousel, lose yourself on the Helter Skelter, and wonder at the Black Mountains from the Ferris Wheel. We're sure Wittgenstein would approve.
So, step right up - ladies and gentleman, young and old, boys and girls, nobel prize winning economists and members of the shadow cabinet - all the fun of the fair is waiting!
More Laughs Than You Can Shake a Pointy Thing At
As night begins to fall, the Ring turns from a hub of intellectual activity into a den of hilarity and mayhem. But of course the jokes are smart too. With an indecently funny comedy line-up, the laughs are (almost) guaranteed to drown out the party next door. In the past we've been joined by comics such as Marcus Brigstocke and Robin Ince rubbing shoulders with some of the best up-and-coming talent on the UK comedy circuit. Get ready to laugh so hard you'll need medical attention.