The 34th Annual Hat Fair

This weekend sees the arrival of the 34th Hat Fair, the UK’s longest running street theatre festival, which runs through to Sunday 6th July. The festival is jam-packed with hundreds of breathtaking performances from over 200 national and international artists taking place throughout Winchester’s ancient streets. Every performance is free to view for all, though donations are welcome.

Named after the tradition of throwing donations into performance hats, Hat Fair started as a buskers’ festival in 1974. Now, 34 years later, it’s bigger and better than ever before.

The 2008 programme features artists from all over the globe, including England, Australia, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and Ireland.

Specially commissioned shows include Metro Boulot Dodo’s Winter, Bash Street Theatre’s The Station and Avanti Display’s Leak!, The Bell by Periplum, Inside Out  by Fraser Hooper, The Two Wrongies new walkabout show, and The Séance by Paschale Straiton.

Friday is Schools Day with a colourful procession of over 1000 children in costume with music and dance, culminating in outdoor theatre, circus and craft workshops by the city’s famous cathedral.

Hat Fair offers something for everyone, so take a walk around Winchester this weekend and enjoy the entertainment.

Living Archive

The Big Fat Hairy Hat Fair Exhibition is now open in the new City Space in Winchester Discovery Centre. In the exhibition you will find the history of Hat Fair, sets, costumes and items from performances, a peek behind the scenes of the festival, a memory booth where you can record your Hat Fair stories, children’s craft workshops and the finalists’ artwork from this year’s Hat Fair Painting Competition.

Local Artists

Hat Fair is keen to support local emerging and established artists and each year we provide a platform from which their work can be viewed.  In 2008, the festival has commissioned:  Wet Picnic’s The Dinner Table and new venue, The Cornershop and two temporary mazes from acclaimed artist Graham Burgess.  We are also presenting Blue Apple Theatre, puppetry workshops with The River People Theatre Company and Bootworks Theatre’s Un Boite Andalouse (The Black Box).

New Hat Fair Market

The Hat Fair Markets are a vibrant part of the celebrations with a strong focus on local and original goods and produce. A selection of local crafts stalls can be found in Market Street and traders from around the UK in a new venue at Colebrook Street Car Park. We have a range of food and drinks available in Abbey Gardens on Saturday. Oram’s Arbour on Sunday hosts our annual Hat Fair Picnic with arts, crafts, food and drinks available throughout the day.

Schedule of Events

Friday 4th July

10.30 – 17.00 Schools Day
17.00 – 23.00 Evening Programme

Saturday 5th July

11.00 – 23.00 Daytime and Evening Programme
18.30 – 23.00 Street Continental

Sunday 6th July

12.00 – 18.00 Hat Fair Picnic