More than 278,000 tickets were sold over the 11 days of the Hay Festival, up 5,000 on last year, organisers say.
Book sales also rose by 2.5% with Heroic Failure by Fintan O’Toole and Matt Millz by Harry Millz most popular.
Maxine Peake, Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry were among stars who appeared at the festival, in Powys.
It also heard from Gruffalo writer Julia Donaldson, who said children’s authors and illustrators are failing to get recognition, despite huge sales.
The festival’s 32nd year also saw the launch of the Europa 28 project, which features prominent female authors, thinkers, writers and scientists – one from each EU country – discussing their visions for the future in Europe.
Festival director Peter Florence, said: “It’s been 11 days full of hope – hope for connection, for kindness and for progress.
“There’s been a welcome generosity in the debates, a willingness to listen and to move forward together. And the stories have ranged across the world, and deep into ourselves.”