The Hay Festival of Literature & Arts in Segovia concluded its 15th edition this Sunday after four days full of talks mainly focused on nature and sustainability. It followed a hybrid physical-and-digital program made up of 50 events where world-renowned writers, journalists, architects, designers, artists, scientists, nature experts, and entrepreneurs from all around the world were brought together to meet and share their ideas on their books, literature, and the future of Europe. Even the ambassadors of Colombia, Morocco, and Ireland, princes Hussain Aga Khan, and Lorenzo de’ Medici participated in this festival.

The main venues for these events were the Public Library of Segovia, the Juan Bravo Theater, La Alhóndiga, and the Aula Magna of IE University. Due to the pandemic, these buildings were forced to strict health and safety measures. The audience was also required to wear a mask in all the events and to maintain the social distance. As the limiting capacity had to be significantly reduced to meet the latter, the IE Foundation produced and broadcasted all the 18 events that took place in the Aula Magna via streaming so that more people could have the opportunity to watch them. 

A special event that occurred within the framework of the Hay Festival was the inauguration of The Wall Disappears project. This project celebrates the German presidency of the Council of the European Union and symbolizes the fading of borders between countries through the exchange of their culture. The installation occupied the center of the Plaza Mayor of Segovia and is made up of six thousand small blocks of wood that form a wall of about four by two meters. Each brick contains a phrase from a famous person, from a thought by Hannah Arendt to a letter of a Beatles song. The Hay Festival invited the public to participate and to take one brick as a souvenir so that the wall will gradually disappear and the passersby will see the ‘wall’ more and more transparent until its completely gone.

Despite the limitations of this year’s festival, the audience never lost its commitment and enthusiasm.   It was an example of to see how culture, art, and literature overlapped the disaster of the pandemic.

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