Tag Archives: Hat Fair

Chance for Local Talent to perform at Hat Fair

Hat Fair – the UK’s longest running annual festival of Outdoor Arts – wants to hear from local acts interested in performing at this year’s event, held in Winchester and which this summer runs from Friday 3 – Sunday 5 July.

Whether you’re a singer, musician, comic, member of a choir or dance troupe, or have another unique short performance you would like to share with the public, this is your chance to shine!

The team is looking for acts to perform around the city centre on the Saturday (4 July). The deadline for applications is Thursday 27 February.

This year marks the 46th free, annual Hat Fair that last year broke records with over 90,000 attendances to shows from hundreds of professional national and international performers, including the best dance, theatre and circus acts; buskers – or Hatters, so called because they collect donations in a hat following their performance, and how the festival got its name; plus local talent, numerous colourful installations and lively workshops over the festival weekend.

Hat Fair 2020 runs from Friday 3 – Sunday 5 July 2020.

To apply to be a local talent act, please visit hatfair.co.uk/info/artists and go to the ‘Local Talent’ section, or email Engagement Producer, Katrina Henderson at kat@playtothecrowd.co.uk

Win guide to hat fair 2019

Hold on to your Hats: Winchester’s beloved Hat Fair Festival takes place this weekend, from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th July 2019. Did you know that Hat Fair is the UK’s longest running festival of Outdoor Arts?

Celebrating 45 years this summer, the festival, which welcomed audiences of over 70,000 last year, is set to host acts from across the region, to international performers, and will entertain all ages. Performances, activities and installations will take place throughout the city centre on Friday and Saturday, with the festivities moving to North Walls Recreation Ground on Sunday.

Ghost Caribou – Credit Ian Hodgson

Hat Fair starts on Friday at 12 noon with Hat’s Fair ‘Fabulous’ Carnival. Hundreds of school-children will leave The Great Hall in brightly coloured costumes they have made for the event. They will be followed by Thingumajig Theatre’s Ghost Caribou – two giant puppets, part caribou / part spirit.

One of last year’s headline acts, Motionhouse, returns with a new piece co-commissioned by Hat Fair, called WILD. Performers will carry out daring moves across a forest of poles. Prepare to be amazed!

WILD – Credit: Dan Tucker
Fantabulosa – Credit: Emma Jones

Audiences will also enjoy Tickertape Parade’s Fantabulosa!, with interactive storytelling, lip-sync, dress-up, games and song inviting them to explore who they want to be. Then on Saturday night, festival goers are encouraged to get involved with a giant ceilidh hosted by Folk Dance Remixed.

Hat Fair is so-called due to the tradition of street artists busking or ‘hatting’ after their show. Some international hatters to look out for over the three days include Spain’s experimental juggler, Grumpy Pants; energetic dancer, BBoy illwill (USA); and Australian contortionists, The Maids. Also, festival favourites, Barada Street and Street Comedy return with acrobatics, comedy and live music.

This year the festival boasts a UK premiere with Money for Free by John Fisherman, from Spain. He invites the public to think about capitalism, society and money in a game that explores what extent the audience is aware of society’s ability to work as a team to make decisions and empower themselves.

On Saturday University of Winchester students perform in the Top Hat Competition, to win mentoring from the Hat Fair Director, Andrew Loretto, and return to Hat Fair 2020 as an official act. Plus, last year’s winner, Martin Jakeman, returns with Home Fires, inspired by Second World War stories.

There is plenty of local talent across the weekend, including Marwell Zoo Choir; puppetry from Blue Apple, which supports performers with disabilities; dance from Prince’s Mead School Dance Squad. The public can also play a street piano and keen singers are welcome to join Hat Fair’s Flashmob Choir.

Young audiences will enjoy Magic Glen; arts and crafts and learning to juggle; while St John’s Almshouses Lawn will provide a calm space for older audiences – with free tea, coffee and cake. There will also be mini-golf, a fun fair, an escape room, food, drink and gift stalls too.

For more information, visit www.hatfair.co.uk. Festival programmes are available from Theatre Royal Winchester, Winchester Tourist Information Centre, and other local distributors.

Win Guide to June

Summer officially arrives in June and for Wintonians, whatever the weather, the season will be bustling with festivals and activities for all to enjoy. Here’s our Win Guide to June:


Winchester becomes Ginchester on 8 June, in celebration of World Gin Day. Led by the Cabinet Rooms team, the fourth annual Ginchester Fête takes place in the Great Hall and blends summer amusements with gin tasting. For full details and ticket prices, visit the website here.


Also on 8 June, it’s the Arlesford Music Festival, a family friendly, one day event in Arlebury Park. The festival is now in its 10th year and the line up includes Next Level, London Afrobeat Collective, Sunscreem and many, many more exciting musicians. This year, AMF has partnered with Hat Fair to support their Top Hat Outdoor Arts competition in 2019, which means emerging artists will be previewing their work at the festival. Mayflower Musical Youth theatre will also be performing in the family arena and other family highlights include circus skills, a climbing wall, music workshops, Silent Disco and bungee trampolines. For more details and to book a festival pass, visit the website here.

Winchester Criterium Cycle Festival

It’s the annual Winchester Criterium Cycle Festival on 9 June. The Criterium is a 1km circuit race around closed roads in Winchester City Centre which starts at the top of the High Street, turns left into St Thomas Street, travels past the Cathedral and the City Council Offices before the long uphill pedal to the start/finish line. Riders must register online in advance. For more details, visit the website here.


Winchestival takes place on 15 June 2019 at North Walls Recreation Park between 11am until 11pm. There will be 4 music stages, with the line up including the Magic Numbers and a BBC Music introducing stage (Solent). The event also includes comedy, family activities and lots of food. For full details or to book tickets, visit the website here.

Winchester Comedy Festival

Winchester Comedy Festival will be hosting their Summer Gala on 6 June. Acts include comedy magician Pete Firman, Tanyalee Davis, Paul Sinha and James Gill. The Gala takes place at the Theatre Royal. For details and to book tickets , visit the website.

The Barricade Boys

There’s a packed programme of comedy, theatre, dance and family shows at the Theatre Royal and we can’t possibly do justice to it all here so head over to the website and start booking. Highlights include the Horrible Histories live stage show on 1-2 June, described as ‘the history of Britain with the nasty bits left in!’, An Evening with Sir Michael Parkinson on 3 June and Ballet Central on 4 June. Enjoy exciting vocals from the stars of Les Misérables, The Barricade Boys on Friday 7 June. Talented NHS staff from across Hampshire will be singing in a charity community event: NHS’ Got Talent on Saturday 8 June. And don’t miss Blue Apple Theatre’s The Tempest 13 – 15 June.

Margot Fonteyn – Centenary Celebration

The Pasadena Roof Orchestra will be in full swing on 16 June. Grammy nominated alternative cabaret act The Tiger Lillies, return with a very special show celebrating their 30th anniversary on 18 June. Finally, ballet fans will not want to miss Ballet Theatre UK’s Margot Fonteyn – Centenary Celebration on 20 June. Also, if you’re curious about what goes on back stage, the theatre is offering family and backstage heritage tours. For more details, visit the website here.

In Praise of Love

For those of you who may be interested in treading the boards, auditions take place for the Chesil Theatre’s production of Terrence Rattigan’s In Praise of Love on 23 & 24 June ahead of the stage show in September. There will be a reading in advance of this on 21 June. If you are interested in getting involved with the Chesil Theatre, please visit the website here.

A reminder that entries close on 7 June for the CPRE Hampshire Countryside Awards 2019! There are 4 categories open to Hampshire applicants doing great work across the following categories: Community and Voluntary, Rural Enterprise, Making Places & Young People. Now in its 13th year, the Countryside Awards recognise community and voluntary organisations and enterprises, celebrating the innovative, diverse and sustainable work being done to support and enhance a thriving Hampshire countryside. Apply now http://www.cprehampshire.org.uk/awards 

We’ll be bringing you more updates throughout the month on Twitter @Win_Guide. In the meantime, enjoy, one and all!

Win Guide to June

There’s lots going on in our fair city this month, from festivals to theatre costume sales and of course our beloved Hat Fair. To find out more, here’s our Win Guide to June.

Head on down to the Chesil Theatre for some folk music on 1 June, performed by the Itchen Folk band. The Compton & Shawford based group will play music from the British Isles and the US. While we’re at the Chesil Theatre, don’t miss their costume sale on 9 June. There will be a range of items on offer from various periods reflecting the range of repertoire that has been dressed over the years. Prices range from just 50p to £50 so get ready to rummage.

The Theatre Royal has an exciting programme on offer this month. Events include Germaine Greer, 3 June and her talk on the inevitability of ecofeminism.  Robert Habermann will be Mad about Movies on 7 June in his history of Hollywood musicals. The show climaxes with a marvellous medley of 20 Oscar winning songs. Shappi Khorsandi will be portraying Emma Hamilton in Mistress and Misfit, 8 June. Dance-wise, you can book to see the sizzling Flamenco Express on 9 June or Ballet Central on 12 June, featuring work by world renowned choreographers.  Families can enjoy the Integr8 Dance school showcase, 15 – 17 June.  Le Navet Bete & Exeter Northcott Theatre bring us Dracula: The Bloody Truth on 13 – 14 June. Kids will be interested in Tall Stories The Snail & The Whale, 10 – 11 June.

Blue Apple Theatre will be filling us in on some history with Winchester! The First 100,000,000 Years, 21 – 23 June. Where did those first settlers on the banks of the Itchen get a decent cup of coffee and did Jane Austen ever get caught up on the one-way system? And finally, don’t miss Reflections of Johnny Cash, Karen Carpenter, Judy Garland & Eva Cassidy, 24 June.

Winchester Cathedral has a packed June full of events to enjoy. Here’s a list of what’s on:

Stone Festival 2018 Friday 15 – Sunday 17 June 2018,

10.00am – 4.00pm Daily. Free Entry – All Welcome

Jane Austen: Tour and Tea Saturday 2 June,10.00am
Tickets: £12.50 Includes hot drink and a slice of cake

Garden Tour  Saturday 2 June, 10.00am Tickets: £6.50

Spiritual Tours with Rev’d Katie Lawrence
Monday 4 June & Wednesday 6 June, 7.00pm – 9.00pm Tickets: £5

Lunchtime Recital – Mikhail Lezdkan (Cello)
Tuesday 5 June, 1.00pm Free to attend

Modern Art Tour and Tea Saturday 9 June, 10.00am
Tickets: £12.50 includes hot drinks and a slice of cake

Britten’s War Requiem Saturday 9 June, 7.30pm
Tickets: £20- £35

Film Night: Stations of the Cross (2014)
Tuesday 12 June, 7.00pm Tickets: £5

Lunchtime Recital: Paul Turner (Piano) & Enigma 14.
Tuesday 12 June, 1.00pm Free to attend

Shipping Festival Service
Thursday 14 June, 7.30pm

Tour: Magnificence Revealed
Saturday 16 June, 10.00am
Tickets: £12.50 includes hot drinks and a slice of cake

Lunchtime Recital: Winchester College Music Scholars
Tuesday 19 June, 1.00pm
Free to attend.

Yanomamo – Featuring Winchester Cathedral Junior and Youth Choir
Saturday 23 June, 7.30pm Tickets: £15 & £20

Professor Alister McGrath – On the Trinity
Tuesday 26 June, 7.00pm
Tickets: £5

Lunchtime Recital – Wells Cathedral School Specialist Music Department
Tuesday 26 June, 1.00pm Free to attend

First World War – In my end is my beginning: Tour and Cream Tea
Friday 29 June, 2.00pm
£12.50 includes a cream tea

For the wordsmiths among us, it’s the Winchester Writers Festival, 15 – 17 June. The festival includes some interesting networking opportunities, including the chance to meet editors and agents.  The keynote speaker for this year’s festival is the novelist Patrick Gale. To book your place, visit the website here.

Winchestival takes place 16 June in North Walls park.  There will be music, comedy and street food to enjoy with the 1980’s synth pop band Fickle Friends headlining the event.  Winchester Comedy Festival will be ensuring that there will be plenty of giggles on the day.  To book tickets for beats, eats and comedy treats, visit the website here.

Hat’s at the ready, the UK’s longest running outdoor arts festival Hat Fair takes place Friday 29th June – Sunday 1st July. On Friday and Saturday there are two jam-packed dates of arts and culture all around Winchester city centre. On Sunday, all are welcome to picnic on North Walls recreation ground where there will be more entertainment to enjoy. For the full programme, which includes an inflatable Whale venue and dancing on giant Jenga, visit the Hat Fair website here.

With so much culture on offer this June, it’s going to be a great month in the city. We’ll be bringing you more updates on Twitter throughout the month. Have fun one and all.

Win Guide to June

Summer is here at last, and Winchester will not disappoint.  Hold on to your summer hats, it’s going to be a busy June:

WheatusRemember the band Wheatus?  Take a trip into some nineties nostalgia at the start of the month on 1 June with a chance to see them live at the Winchester Guildhall.  Tickets are available to book online and the show is advertised for 14+ years old. It’s also a Pin Drop Comedy double edition at the Guildhall this month.  The regular Pin Drop open-mic night will take place on Thursday 8 June from 8pm, with free entry and the Wintonian bar open throughout.  And on the 15 June there will be a Summer Special event with comedy from Norman Lovett, the original Holly from BBC’s Red Dwarf and also an Edinburgh preview from David Ephgrave. Tickets are £10 and available to book here, although it is advised that the line-up may be subject to change and audiences must be 18+ years.

The Chesil Theatre will be presenting Shell Shock by Neil Warkin, adapted by Tim Marriott, in association with Sussex Armed Forces Network. Shell Shock is described as a stunning personal realisation of one soldier’s experience of learning to cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The production is running 31 May until 3 June at 7.45pm.
After serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, Tommy Atkins’ observations on the absurdities of every-day life on civvy street are frequently comic, occasionally absurd, sometimes violent but always poignant.

Festival season is in full force this month.  The brilliant Winchester Speakers festival takes place 3-4 June at the Discovery centre, with some big names on the roster.  Speakers include Kate Adie, Nick Clegg, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Tom Mangold, Peter Conradi, Iby Knill and Dan Cruickshank among others. For more details or to book talks, visit the website here.

It’s Ginchester Fete time.  Hosted by the fine connoisseurs at the Cabinet Rooms, this festival of gin will take place at the Great Hall.  Fittingly scheduled for the 10 June (World Gin Day), there will be two sessions available at 12pm or 3pm. Enjoy gin tasting and summer fete frivolities.  For full details or to book tickets, visit here.

You can follow this up with Winchestival, a day of music and comedy at the North Walls Recreation ground on 17 June. It’s billed as a family friendly festival in the heart of the city. On the main stage acts include Eliza and the Bear, Richard Morris, Josh Savage, Daughters of Davis, Sean McGowan and many more. In the comedy tent choose from Hal Cruttenden, Rob Deering, Jen Brister, Tom Deacon and more. Tickets are available here.

Hat Fair is here! Starting Friday 30 June and running until Sunday 2nd July, Hat Fair is the UK’s longest running festival of outdoor arts and takes place across the historic city of Winchester. The event is free although donations in hats are welcome. Events take place across the city on Friday and Saturday with a day of food and finales at Oram’s Arbour on Sunday. For the full bumper line-up, visit the website here.

Dulwich Opera Company is returning to St Paul’s Church with a production of Carmen on Thursday 29 June.  The Pilgrims’ school Chamber Choir will also be participating in this event.  Showcasing some emerging professional artists, this is an excellent opportunity to experience intimate opera on your doorstep.  Tickets are available here.

Plenty to enjoy in June and we’ll be bringing you more updates on Twitter @Win_Guide

Hat Fair 2016

Hat Fair - Of Rider and running horses
Hat Fair – Of Rider and running horses

Hat Fair is the UK’s longest running festival of outdoor arts.
The festival takes place every year during the first weekend of July across the historic city of Winchester.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy at each year’s festival, and best of all, it’s absolutely FREE!

manoAmano Hat Fair
manoAmano Hat Fair

With 234 performances planned for 2016 over 23 locations and 3 days, and with everything from space-walking astronauts to roof-top dancing and from mobile bath-tubs to peaceful sky-gazing, we hope you’ll find something that’s right up your street!

Hat Fair 2016 (1 – 3 July)

Friday & Saturday
– Two jam-packed dates of arts and culture at more than 20 locations all around Winchester city centre.

– All-day family picnic at Oram’s Arbour, with some of the world’s most spectacular street performers.

“The wonderful Winchester Hat Fair, a joyous weekend of street theatre and outdoor performance” The Guardian, 2015

For more information please visit www.hatfair.co.uk

Win Guide to December

It’s officially time to get festive.  December is here and Winchester is already embracing its identity as the “perfect” city for Christmas. Here’s the Win Guide to what’s on offer:

Woolly Hat Fair
Woolly Hat Fair

Fancy a little live art to keep you entertained until Christmas day?  This year, the Woolly Hat Fair team have launched a Live Advent Calendar, and between 1-24 December at 5pm a door will open somewhere in the city  behind which a “small moment of magic will take place”. And good news, there is an online version which gives you full details of where this impromptu artistry will be appearing each day, along with a hint on what it might entail, so you don’t have to run from door to door hunting for the hatters. All the events are free to attend but there is a maximum capacity at each venue so arrive early if you’ve set your heart on a particular date or door.

Santa Fun Run
Santa Fun Run

The Naomi House & Jacksplace 5k Santa fun run will take place in the city, 6 December.  It’s a fabulous event all in aid of supporting the great work of the hospices this christmas. Entry into the run has sold out this year, but you can join a waiting list or get in touch to join a team of volunteers helping out on the day.

Winchester Christmas Market
Winchester Christmas Market

The Christmas Market and Ice Rink has officially opened and will be celebrating its 10th birthday this year.  Perhaps one of the most picturesque ongoing events of the season, it’s a chance to get a taste of the fairytale Christmas that many travel to the continent to enjoy. With mulled wine, stollen and christmas gifts galore on offer, visit the germanic wooden cabins by the Cathedral when you are in the mood to slowly amble through a sensory yuletide experience.  Christmas shopping in a hurry this is not, but a seasonal staple it certainly is.

Cathedral Christmas Carols
Cathedral Christmas Carols

The Cathedral Christmas Carol Concert evening will take place on 11 December hosted by BBC South Today’s Sally Taylor. Starting at 7pm, tickets cost between £15 – £40 and will feature the Cathedral Choirs with guest appearances by popular trio BlakeAlternatively, there will be the public Carol Services at the Cathedral on Saturday 19, Monday 21 and Tuesday 22 December at 6.30pm.  The Saturday 19 event is ticketed, with a limited number available directly from the Cathedral Box Office (not online).  Doors will be open from 5.20pm and seats must be taken by 5.50pm. These are popular events so be prepared.

Holidays are Coming - Coca Cola truck
Holidays are Coming – Coca Cola truck

Apparently the ‘Holiday’s are coming, holiday’s are coming’ Coca Cola Christmas juggernaut truck is a ‘thing’ and you can embrace the commercial jazz-hands of a post-modern christmas by standing near it, taking a ‘selfie’ and well, drinking a bit of the iconic fizzy pop by it.  If this tickles your fancy, the “truck” will be makings its way to the city on the 17 December between 12-8pm.

Jack and the Beanstalk, Theatre Royal
Jack and the Beanstalk, Theatre Royal

Looking for some Fe, Fi, Fo Fun? Oh yes we are. Well, it is going to be a factory of festive fun at the Theatre Royal when they open Jack and the Beanstalk, running until Sunday 3 January.  Suitable from 3+ with original songs, evil Giant’s, magic beans, this year’s show will be packed full of participation, dames and good old panto hilarity.


We’ll be bringing you a few more festive tips later this month for you to mull over with some mulled wine and a mince pie.  Welcome to December one and all.


Win Guide to August

Dino Fest 2015
Dino Fest 2015

Don’t be alarmed but the Dinosaurs are back and they have chosen to base themselves in Hampshire. It’s Dino Fest 2015, a monumental year of “roarsome” events for budding palaeontologists, eager explorers and their parents who may be looking for rain-proof indoor fun. Winchester is offering Dinosaurium at the City space, Winchester Discovery Centre for free. It’s an opportunity to see local artists create creatures from paper, card and other materials. There will be an Edwardian specimen jar with a ‘real-life’ dinosaur to examine. If you fancy going further afield, there are plenty of events happening across the county including Milestones Museum Basingstoke, SeaCity Museum, Southampton, Westbury, Eastleigh, Andover and Salisbury. If you go to more than one event you can collect stickers to enter some competitions, with prizes including an annual family culture card for Hampshire, or a torch-lit trail of the Dinosaur Gallery – a live science show at the Natural History Museum with a Museum expert at midnight.

Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium is offering extended opening hours, from 10am – 5pm for the whole of august, to provide plenty of educational entertainment for the summer holidays. To carry on the Dinosaur theme, you can book to see Dinosaurs at Dusk, in the largest stand-alone 360 degrees planetarium cinema in the UK, where you can lie back an watch moving images of dinosaurs above your head.

Running Horse, Littleton
Running Horse, Family Fun Day

Head to the Running Horse in Littleton on Saturday 15th August, where there will be a ‘Family Fun Day’ including a bouncy castle and face-painting for children in the garden from 1pm. Whilst we’re in the village, Littleton Pre-School celebrates its 40th birthday this year and welcomes children from 2 years, so don’t forget to get your child registered for September.  Based at the Millennium Memorial Hall which is set in the idyllic countryside grounds, it is a perfectly crafted space for indoor and outdoor play and learning. The pre-school is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday between 8:30am and 12:15pm, with extended sessions available until 3pm on and Wednesday.

Chesney Hawkes at the Railway Inn
Chesney Hawkes at the Railway Inn

Remember Chesney Hawkes? The Railway Inn will be giving you a chance to spend an evening with him on Friday 14th August at 7.30pm as he leads you through his musical journey with Percival Elliott and Anthony Starble. Of course, music fans might be at the Boom Town Festival, from the 13th – 17th August on the Matterley Estate. This may well be the Festival’s last year on the Estate due to planning restrictions, however the 2015 edition is set to go ahead.

The Hospital of St Cross
The Hospital of St Cross

The Hospital of St Cross Gardens will be open as part of the NGS Gardens Open for charity on Sunday 30th August, 2-5pm. Admission £4, children free. Or you can take a tour of the walkways and Church Tower on the 21st August at 7pm, tickets £20. The Hospital is one of England’s oldest continuing almshouses, founded in 1136 by Henry of Blois, grandson of William the Conqueror.  It is the oldest charitable institution in the United Kingdom. It’s worth making a day of it by walking through the water meadows and rewarding yourself with some summer food and drink at the Wykeham Arms, or browsing at the Kingsgate Village shops: P&G Wells Booksellers, Cornflowers Gift Shop, Kingsgate Books and Prints and Kingsgate Wine and Provisions.

Graze Festival
Graze Festival

The brand new Graze Festival makes it debut on 30th August in Hazeley Fields, Twyford, offering local foods, pop up restaurants, music and performing arts (supplied by Hat Fair) with proceeds raised going to support local charities. There will be a dedicated kids area too, so plenty for the whole family to enjoy.

Hat Fair Highlights

Hat Fair
Hat Fair

Winchester welcomes the UK’s longest running street arts festival this weekend from Fri 4 to Sun 6 July with its 45 companies, 12 commissions, 6 commissioning partnerships and 4 UK premieres. Hat Fair has been providing some of the best in street theatre for 40 years, attracting 30,000 visitors each year.

“One of the great pleasures of Street Arts festivals is that they make you slow down and put the wonder back into everyday life. Wherever you were in Winchester at this year’s Hat Fair, you could hear the distant sound of laughter – as if the whole town was smiling together.” (Lyn Gardner, The Guardian)

Hat Fair app
Hat Fair app

It’s a completely free event, so you can just turn up and follow the Hat Fair ‘app’ on your smart phone or wander from venue to venue with a festival programme. Events are happening at The Theatre Royal, Discovery Centre, Chapter House Lawn, Cathedral Outer Close, Cathedral Inner Close, Abbey Gardens, The Broadway, Oram’s Arbour, Friary Gardens, The Great Hall, in the High Street (at locations 1&2), Parchment Street and The Square. Map.

Here are some of the Festival highlights from the team:

Friday 4 July

Gobbledegook Theatre
Gobbledegook Theatre

Start early with Gobbledegook’s pre-school friendly performances at 10 & 10.30am at the Theatre Royal and Discovery Centre Small Wonders area. Garden Party features the ‘Grass Ladies’ clad in dresses made from artificial turf and offering a mix of music, nature and fun with a beautiful a cappella concert. Meanwhile, Gobbledegook’s Musikshed will have the under 5’s boogie-ing down. Small Wonders is a national initiative supported by the Arts Council and run by Bristol based Alchemy Productions creating outdoor work for the under-fives and their families.

The Museum of Everyday Life transforms Cathedral Outer Close (the cat grounds) at 12pm. Presented by French street theatre artists Les Cubiténistes, this event attempts to make the ordinary extraordinary. How? By using a live photographic studio to create an instant rolling exhibition of portraits and paintings of the public. Not to be missed for those curious about art being reimagined.

Wet Picnic - The Lift
Wet Picnic – The Lift

Meanwhile at 2, 4 & 6pm in Abbey Gardens the home-grown Winchester company Wet Picnic return with The Lift, a roving theatrical experience that envelops its audience, welcoming them into a world of captured moments. Participants can choose their own participatory adventure with the push of a button.

The festivities continue on Friday evening at 7pm with Tit for Tat at Abbey Gardens. Ryman & Lou invite us into their portable living room to share their passion for tea. Ever-prepared for a strong brew, they believe it only tastes good if you almost die making it. A silent comedy full of acrobatics, juggling and farce, this is not one to be missed. G. Bistaki will lure us in with poetic dance at the Broadway at 9.30pm. A cast of darkly-clad men transform into acrobats, culminating in a shattering finale; a perfect finish to the first day of the Festival.

Saturday 5 July

Day of Dance
Day of Dance

Saturday is when the festival truly comes into its own with events starting at 10am. The Great Hall is hosting a ‘Day of Dance’, with a mix of lively workshops and showcases taking place all day. Rebecca JS Nice featured some of the performances on offer in her recent blog, The Great Hall and The Hat Fair.  Audiences are invited to come along and learn some new steps, from salsa to hip hop. At 12pm on Parchment Street the visual artist Jane Watson invites you to leave your body print on the pavement, literally sharing your physicality. If you head on over to Friary Gardens in Culver Road at 12:30pm you’ll catch Dante or Die / Peut-Etre performing Clunk. Three talented musicians interpret magical stories using Balkan music, song, and visual imagery to create both a concert and theatre piece perfect for early-years audiences and their families.

Tiata Fahodzi - The Legend of Hamba
Tiata Fahodzi – The Legend of Hamba

After a spot of lunch, stroll over to High Street 1 to catch Amazing Mr Fish at 1pm or 4pm as he rides a 10ft unicycle whilst balancing a goldfish on his left foot; a veritable treat of circus, comedy and mime. At 1:30 pm on The Chapter House lawn Tiata Fahodzi, one of Britain’s leading African theatre companies, present The Legend of Hamba. An African Everyman play in a contemporary setting, Tiata Fahodzi uses Zimbabwe’s language of Ndebele to create a spirit of progress, vitality and forward thinking.

4:30pm at the Theatre Royal, Orkater presents Via Berlin, a Dutch musical theatre troupe with A Mouth Full of Sand, the journey of a Dutch woman seeking her lost husband in Afghanistan. The production uses a blend of classical and new music for violin, cello, percussion, sand, plastic and song.

Nuno Silva, The Soul of Fado
Nuno Silva – The Soul of Fado

At 10.30pm, Nuno Silva will be filling the atmospheric Great Hall with The Soul of Fado. With a career encompassing contemporary dance, West End musicals and opera, Silva has gone back to his Portuguese roots to re-create the steamy atmosphere of Lisbon’s Old Quarter. Nuno Silva featured in the inaugural GOlive Dance and Performance Festival, produced by Giant Olive Theatre Company and curated by our very own Donald Hutera, so he’s a hot tip from the WinGuide team.


Sunday 6 July

Amelia Cadwallader
Amelia Cadwallader

On Sunday the festival returns to its traditional home at Oram’s Arbour near the train station. At 1pm & 4pm Jeremy Farquar presents The Fool, the Cow and the Art of Corruption, described by the Sydney Morning Herald as “Challenging, inspirational theatre”. The People’s Pitch will showcase up-and-coming street performance acts, or ‘Hatters’, from 1pm. Amelia Cadwallader is appearing at 2pm and 5pm with her celebrated Maple Staplegun who’ll be armed with hula-hoops, office stationery and traditional circus ring techniques.

Then it’s a short walk down the hill to the Great Hall to catch the festival finale with Marc Brew & Co’s (i)land set on a six-ton pile of sand at 6pm and Nuno Silva’s The Soul of Fado at 8pm, hint-hint-hint.

Please note: the artists featured above will be performing at other times during the festival. For full festival listings visit the Hat Fair website.

Hat Fair weekend is on 4th to 6th of July this year. We’ll be tweeting across Winchester, offering you the best of the festival. Follow us and keep updated at @Win_guide