A festival on the Welsh border can run until 1am for three nights, despite local fears of noise and anti-social behaviour.

Billed as the world's largest music and philosophy festival, HowTheLightGetsIn will run from Thursday, June 2, until Sunday, June 5, alongside the river Wye just outside Hay-on-Wye.

The organisers sought permission for live music indoors and outdoors, as well as indoor recorded music and “late night refreshment”, until 1am on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, and for sale of alcohol until quarter to one each night.

Resident Crispin Elt told an online meeting to decide on the bid that the festival site was not “located away from any residential properties in town” as its licensing application claimed.

The site entrance is now opposite the Bookers Edge development of 25 new homes, built in 2018-19 – “not shown on the plans submitted, but which are now occupied”, he said.

Previous years of the festival, last held in Hay in 2019, gave rise to “noise and disturbance in the street, and people going into residents’ gardens”, Mr Elt added.

Fellow resident Chris Kemp added that in 2019 in particular, “a lot of festival-goers were hanging around until 4am in the area, where a lot more people now live”.

The applicant, general manager of the town’s Globe at Hay arts centre Amanda Houghton, said: “We hope we work well with the residents.

“Bookers Edge is behind the commercial properties (on Newport Street) and the festival site slopes down towards the river, which affects how the sound is dispersed.

“No complaints went to the licensing authority in 2019, which we took to be a good sign. Despite that, we have decided to reduce our opening hours this year from 2am to 1am.”

Her own phone number would be given out to local residents, enabling her to address their concerns promptly during the festival, she added.


Jazz Bhakar, finance director of TVF which issues the tickets for the festival, said it “is not profitable – we run it because we are passionate about its content and what it brings to the town”.

There are other venues and events in the town at the same time, meaning “there is no one source for the issues that might arise”, he claimed.

A consultant to the organisers said sound monitoring from previous years showed that the predominantly folk music from the festival did not carry and had not exceeded undertakings given on noise.

Members of the council’s planning committee agreed to grant the event’s premises licence on the terms sought.

The police had asked for a range of undertakings around the management of the event, which the organisers agreed to.