When: 1st – 3rd July 2016
Where: Winchester, Hampshire
What is it?
Winchester Hat Fair is the UK’s longest running festival of outdoor arts, and it’s free.
The festival will take place on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd July, with 234 performances in twenty different outdoor sites around the city centre, concluding on Sunday 3rd July at Oram’s Arbour.
Festival highlights will include an Urban Astronaut ‘space-walking’ 20 feet in the air, and a roaming Grassman, grown entirely from real grass. There will also be Masquerade, in which the revellers are the masked audience, and the UK première of energetic French dance performance, États Des Lieux by Collectif A/R.
On Saturday evening, renowned circus company, Ockham’s Razor, will make their Hat Fair début with Tipping Point. Tipping Point will take place in the Bus Station, and the show will feature performers who balance on, cling to, and manipulate 5-metre long poles. Then, in a late night finale, six female dancers will run and leap around on the roof of Chesil Street Multi-Storey car park for the breath-taking Of Riders & Running Horses by Still House and Mayk.
This year the Hat Fair culminates with a Sunday picnic at Oram’s Arbour. Continuous entertainment will be laid on throughout the day.
One of the most popular events from last Christmas’ Woolly Hat Fair returns, giving people another chance to enter an old air raid shelter underneath Jewry Street. Visitors will be accompanied by a World War Two Soundscape which uses archive audio clips from Hampshire Record Office. Places can be booked in advance for this through the Theatre Royal.
For families and younger festival goers, there will be a dedicated Children’s Area on Cathedral Inner Close. The Hat Fair and The Point in Eastleigh have co-commissioned a new children’s theatre piece. Long, Broad & Sharpsight by Sharklegs Theatre will look at what it’s like to be ‘different’.
There are many opportunities for members of the public to get involved with the events. Canadian theatre company, Mammalian Diving Reflex, will be training 10-year-olds from Winnall Primary School in hairdressing. The children will take over Regis hair salon on Colebrook Street to offer free haircuts to festival-goers. This fun project has a serious aim of showing how adults should do more to trust and empower young people.
Visitors will be able to take part in a restaging of the famous audition scene from the A Chorus Line (1985). Participants in The Audition Project by Miss High Leg Kick can simply turn up and join in, although 1980s style fancy dress is welcomed!
Festival-goers may also want to bring their swimming costumes to bathe in a mobile bathtub which will be pulled around the festival by an Italian vespa in Vespaqua.
Top street theatre performers from around the world will also busk, or ‘hat’ in the High Street, The Square and in Abbey Gardens; maintaining the long tradition that gives the festival its name. Hatters for 2016 will include manoAmano from Argentina and Les Dudes from Canada.