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Hat Fair is a family-friendly festival of Street Performance and 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. Jam-packed with arts and culture all around Winchester city centre.

The festival is the UK's longest continually running Outdoor Arts festival.

"the wonderful Winchester Hat Fair, a joyous weekend of street theatre and outdoor performance"

The Guardian - Lyn Gardner


Hat Fair 2019

A brief history

Hat Fair is the UK’s longest running festival of outdoor arts.

Founded in 1974 by Jonathan Kay, Hat Fair inspires and is inspired by the people, heritage and public spaces within the city of Winchester.

Our aim is to shine a light on the city, transforming the everyday into the extraordinary.

Initially conceived as a busking festival, Hat Fair takes its name from the tradition of the audience showing their appreciation by putting money in the hat at the end of the show.

These days most of the festival’s artists are paid a fee to perform for free to our audiences. However, we still uphold the hatting tradition by inviting a dozen or so of the world’s best street performers to ‘hat’ at the festival each year – we offer a contribution to their travel costs and provide food and accommodation for them during the festival, but they are primarily paid through the generosity of our audiences.

In 2013 Hat Fair became part of Live Theatre Winchester Trust (now known as Play to the Crowd), which also runs Theatre Royal Winchester.

Bringing together a historic theatre and an outdoor arts programme in creative collaboration has allowed us to develop our artistic ambitions relishing the opportunities this presents for encouraging talent and championing quality arts.

Support Hat Fair

Although the festival is free to attend on Friday and Saturday - it is far from free to put on!

Play to the Crowd, the charity that runs Hat Fair, gratefully receives investment from Arts Council England, Winchester City Council and Without Walls but we couldn't put the festival together without support from local businesses and our community.

We still need to raise thousands each year to make each festival happen; so if you love Hat Fair, help us keep it accessible to all by giving what you can.

Visit Support us for more info...


Amount to Donate: £ 0

Hat Fair is part of Without Walls, a network of organisations bringing innovative outdoor arts to towns and cities across England.

Find out more on

Hat Fair is supported by Winchester City Council and presented in partnership with Without Walls.

Hat Fair 2024 is supported by University of Winchester, University of Southampton, Winchester BID, Arts Council England National Lottery grant, UK Shared Prosperity Fund, Culture Ireland and Pulse Cargo.

This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is a central pillar of the UK government’s Levelling Up agenda and provides £2.6 billion of funding for local investment by March 2025. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. For more information, visit