In 10 years the festival has come a long way. This year, about 30,000 people are expected to attend, pumping around pounds 3m into the local economy.
Around 150 literary lions, including Edna O'Brien, Harold Pinter, Sue Townsend, Martin Bell, Beryl Bainbridge and Keith Waterhouse will be on hand to delight, provoke and annoy.
Bill Bryson will talk to the festival's director, Peter Florence, and Will Self will unburden himself to The Independent's Suzanne Moore about his new novel, Great Apes. Julian Bream, the Medici Quartet, Cleo Laine and John Dankworth will provide musical entertainment.
"The Hay Festival is a sort of giant garden party," said Mr Florence. It runs till next Sunday.Reuse content