WHATEVER the weather, whatever your literary leanings, the 17th Hay Festival - which whirs into being next Friday - lives up to its name.

With Bob Geldof headlining the opening night, musical interludes will be provided by Thea Gilmore, Nitin Sawnhey and The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain among others.

Among the literary glitterati appearing are John Updike, Doris Lessing, Zadie Smith, Tony Parsons and Julie Myerson, though the list is long.

The gardeners among you will be pleased to see Monty Don and Roy Strong on the menu, while historians will enjoy the banter of Antony Beevor, David Starkey, Terry Jones and Simon Sebag Montefiore.

Comedy highlights will be provided by Jo Brand, Dylan Moran, Mark Thomas and Alexei Sayle, with Robin Cook, Michael Buerk and John Pilger lending weight to current affairs.

Alex Holmes, who directed the acclaimed three-part documentary on Dunkirk's Operation Dynamo, and Jess Shaw's exhibition of contemporary lighting fly the flag for local talent; Giffords Circus add a bit of sparkle and local galleries are ready to show off their best work.

Full programme information is available at www.hayfestival.com or on 0870 9901299. The festival runs from May 28 to June 6.