Hay Festival’s much smaller, more intimate sibling, Hay Festival Winter Weekend, runs from Friday, December 2 to Sunday, December 4 with a programme of family friendly events to provide a relaxing fun-filled weekend ahead of the frantic rush towards Christmas festivities.

The fun starts with the Quiz of the Year chaired by Peter Florence, who’ll be posing questions to test your wits and general knowledge about 2011. Bring a team of four or just turn up at The Granary at 8pm to join in.

Children, especially, will be spoiled for choice in a weekend packed with a wealth of exciting events and activities, starting on Saturday with a Make a Book in a Day session for the over-12s.

Running from 10am to 3pm, it features novelist, journalist and radio producer Horatio Clare, pictured right, who grew up in the Black Mountains. Horatio will explore the writing and crafting of short stories. And Paul Thomas of BWA Design will provide expert guidance in formatting and style, so that participants will leave having created a unique book from start to finish.

A memorable experience is certain, too, for anyone who goes along to Booth’s Bookshop to make Winter Wish Boats on Saturday afternoon, where you’ll make miniature sailing boats to launch down the River Wye, with your dreams, wishes and stories aboard.

There’s also a bit of a foodie theme running through the weekend, with the Easy Peasy Cookery School run by Tish Dockerty of the Ludlow Food Market, opening its doors for young people (at 11am and 12.30pm on Saturday for five to ten year olds and at 2pm for 10-14s in the Community Centre).

Christmas challenges sorted

Take advantage of a session on Sunday to pick up some tips to help face those little Christmas challenges as Aggie MacKenzie (How Clean is Your House, Aggie’s Family Cookbook) and Brilley-based Judith Wills (The Food Bible) chat to Country Living’s Kitty Corrigan about everything from the perfect Christmas dinner to the versatility of leftovers.

Aggie’s own indelibly memorable Christmas challenge is one the Hay audience will be hoping not to repeat: “Many years ago, we bought a goose, my favourite bird for Christmas, but by the time it went in the oven it did smell a bit. We stuffed it though and put it in, and then, as it cooked, the smell got stronger and stronger while everyone remained in denial,” she recalls. “I thought ‘I paid £70 for it - it can’t be off!’. It took her son Ewan, then three years old, to face the truth: “He walked in to the kitchen and said ‘Who done that fart?’.

Her goose well and truly cooked, Aggie admitted defeat. “We couldn’t deny the goose was off any longer, but my dad, who’d had a few whiskies, ate it, though the rest of us just had the trimmings.”

Also on the menu in a packed weekend are Francine Stock, who’ll be talking to Owen Sheers, author of Resistance which has recently been made into a film, about ‘A Century of Film and How it Shaped Us’. Owen will be on hand again for a Q and A session following a Saturday evening screening of Resistance, based in and shot in the Olchon and Llanthony Valleys.

And Saturday evening offers a brilliant opportunity to get well into the festive party mood, as five piece band Gypsy Hill generates a night of electrifying energy, blending Balkan/gypsy/swing music with electronic beats from DJ Kobayashi.

For full programme information and booking details, go to hayfestival.com