When: 29th June – 1st July 2018
Where: Winchester, Hampshire
What is it?
Winchester’s Hat Fair, the UK’s longest continually running outdoor arts festival, will take place from Friday 29th June to Sunday 1st July. The free three day festival, now in its 44th year, aims to bring the best in international street performance, theatre, dance and circus-inspired events to Hampshire.
Street theatre performers from around the world will busk or ‘hat’ during the weekend, maintaining the long tradition that gives the festival its name. Returning ‘hatters’ Barada Street will charm audiences with their acrobatics, live music and cheeky idiocy, whilst Pina Polar will take the audience Into The Wild with her hula hoop tiger dance and knife juggling, and Fra Marto will be hanging out her washing with clowning, hula-hooping and fun for everyone in Out of the Blù.
Mighty Mike will be throwing bowling balls and sledgehammers as if they were as light as a feather and driving nails through boards with his hands; Jon Hicks, the International Man of Artistry, will be dexterously executing outsized artworks; Lombric Spaghetti will put themselves to the test with a series of balancing acts, and George Orange will perform effortlessly on a slack rope rig that rocks and rolls.
NoFit State Circus and Motionhouse’s thrilling dance-circus collaboration BLOCK headlines on the Friday night at Winchester Bus Station. Twenty oversized blocks, fashioned to resemble giant concrete Jenga blocks, are deconstructed and reformed into an infinite variety of shapes for the performers to play on, move and explore with daring physicality, split-second timing and thrilling feats.
Sur Mesure’s Fillage, a fusion of circus artists and musicians, combining trampoline, acrobatics and juggling with live music; Max Calaf Sevé‘s interrogation of relationships in society today, with breath-taking, air-twisting tricks and funky tunes; and Helen Eastman Production’s bicycle powered musical for children and their families, all feature over the weekend.
Festival goers will be able to set foot inside the belly of a giant inflatable whale to hear storytelling by Circo Rum Ba Ba; use their smartphones to become part of the sound and movement trail; and go on a walkabout with two strange mirrored beings that have crash landed on Earth.
Celebrated street performance company Masca Theatre will transport Winchester back to 19th Century Paris in The Forgotten Crafts of Paris, as street traders are brought to life through mime, masks, costumes and theatricality. Two disoriented circus performers will be searching every nook and cranny for their lost big top in Mimbre’s I’ve Lost My Circus, and the Saturday night celebrations culminate in a party on The Broadway with music from the riotous gypsy-folk band Ushti Baba, whose fusion of traditional folk music and modern dance rhythms will inspire frenzied limb-flinging and general fervour.
This year, festival goers can join the Hat Fair Flashmob Choir. Participants attend a free workshop at Theatre Royal Winchester to learn the song This is Me from The Greatest Showman and then perform it throughout the day all over the city!
On Saturday, the gardens of St John’s Almhouses will become the venue for a Village Fete, a calmer space for older festival goers, with plenty of free tea and cake, charity information stalls and live performance by Yoni, the female woodland choir.
On the Sunday, at North Walls Recreation Ground, as well as watching the fabulous hatters, festival goers will be able kick off their shoes and step into a labyrinth of chambers to explore the intense views of colour in Colourscape by Eye Music Trust. The Dance Stage will welcome Candoco Dance Company’s Dedicated To…, a touching portrayal of female strength, support and friendship; and the Etta Ermini Dance Theatre Company’s Roadworks, a quirky and humorous engagement between a dancer and a BMX rider, featuring acrobatics, B-Boying, contemporary dance, BMX-ing and clowning.
The People’s Stage will feature local musical talent, local dance groups and Young Theatre Royal performances. Juggling Jake will be back with his collection of circus equipment for everyone to try, and there will be mini golf, escape room escapades, the Amazing Camera Obscura and a selection of food and gift stalls.
More info: hatfair.co.uk