Hay-on-Wye is a destination for bibliophiles in the United Kingdom, still with two dozen bookshops, many selling specialist and second-hand books. Hay-on-Wye was already well known for its many bookshops before the festival was launched. Richard Booth opened his first shop there in 1962, and by the 1970s Hay had gained the nickname "The Town of Books".
Since 1988, Hay-on-Wye has been the venue for a literary festival, which draws a claimed 80,000 visitors over ten days at the end of May or beginning of June to see and hear big literary names from all over the world. An annual literature festival held in Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, for ten days from May to June. Devised by Norman, Rhoda and Peter Florence in 1988, the festival was described as "The Woodstock of the mind". Peter Florence continues to be director of the Festival.
The Festival is reported to have directly generated £83 million in Hay-On-Wye's economy over the last ten years (2019).
From its inception, the festival was held at a variety of venues around Hay, including the local Primary School, until 2005 when it moved to a unified location in the West of the town, as well as classical music concerts in St Mary's Church.
A book town is a town or village with many used book or antiquarian book stores. These stores, as well as literary festivals, attract bibliophile tourists. Some book towns are members of the International Organization of Book Towns.