When: 5th – 7th July 2013
Where: Winchester, Hampshire
£: Free (but donations are encouraged). The Hidden Hat Fair events and the High Tea & Comedy Tent are ticketed (priced from £11 – £36), see www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk.
What is it?
Now in its 39th year, the Hat Fair is a festival of street theatre and outdoor arts. Originally a buskers’ festival, it first began in 1974 and has grown steadily since. The festival got its name from the tradition of throwing money into the performer’s hat.
This year the Hat Fair runs from Friday 5th to Sunday 7th July. Friday and Saturday will see performers taking over the city centre streets, its parks, Cathedral Close, the Discovery Centre, Theatre Royal Winchester and the terrace outside the Law Courts. A more relaxed Sunday programme moves the Hat Fair to a park slightly outside the city centre where families can picnic and enjoy the various performance areas.
With street acts round every corner, a bustling market, and a multi-national cast of acts including the EU funded La Fête Franglais, the three days are rounded off with three nights of evening spectaculars.
After its successful launch last year, a fascinating extra dimension – Hidden Hat Fair – is providing sophisticated and intimate ticketed shows in unexpected locations in addition to the fantastic free performances Hat Fair is renowned for. 2013’s Hidden Hat Fair sees performances from Mercurial Wrestler, Platform 4 and Irish company Ponydance.
Mercurial Wrestler’s delicious magical mystery Magna Mysteria will guide its audiences across the city. Inspired by the ability to make the impossible, possible, this is an enchanted world where Victorian-style magic mixes with digital technology. Psychics send text messages, immortals tweet and the audience holds the key to The Magician’s whereabouts.
Meanwhile, Platform 4’s poignant Memory Points will explore the unseen back stage spaces of Theatre Royal Winchester. Wearing headphones playing a unique soundtrack, audiences will be guided along corridors, up and downstairs, looping around and about, retracing footsteps, whilst encountering beautiful mini-installations using film, shadow, light, and costume in this magical mystery tour.
In contrast, Ponydance‘s raucous Edinburgh hit Where Did it all Go Right? will take over Bar 3One in Bar End Road. It’s subject? Four people in a bar trying to get out. This extraordinary comedy dance theatre performance serves up a confection of moves and movement to a soundtrack of garish music and nervous tension.
One additional ticketed event for this summer’s Hat Fair is the High Tea and Comedy Tent. 10 – 14 year olds and their families are liberally catered for in the High Tea and Comedy Tent in Abbey Gardens; with an afternoon of comedy with improvisation masters Instant Wit. The comedy will be accompanied by high tea served with a smattering of colourful characters.
Hat Fair’s 2013 programme is, as ever, rounded out by an evening spectacular. This year it includes outdoor theatre specialists Rag & Bone’s brilliant new show Boneyard Tales, in the Broadway on Friday night. French sculptor Denis Tricot will create a beguiling riverside walk, accompanied by solo cello on Friday and Saturday night. Urban dancers Bad Taste Company bring Faust on Sunday night and Belgian trapeze artists Collectif Malunés’ Sens Dessus Dessous swing by on Saturday and Sunday evening.
More info: www.hatfair.co.uk