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Hat Fair 2023 line up!

Hat Fair returns for 2023 to Winchester’s city streets and green spaces once again – with bold street theatre, music, dance, circus and more.

This summer, Hat Fair runs from Friday 30 June – Saturday 1 July and features the very best national and international acts, plus local talent, performing before some of the city’s most spectacular landmarks and for all ages to enjoy.

We start with the Carnival – an explosion of colour featuring hundreds of local school-children dressed in costumes based on a theme, this year – ‘Shout About It!’. They’ll be joined by other local community groups.

We’ll host several shows we have co-commissioned as a member of Without Walls (a network of festivals that work with artists to bring outdoor arts to the UK), including Thingumajig Theatre’s miniature puppet festival A la Puppet Carte; Fatt Projects’ Big Gay Disco Bike; a dance, fashion and lip-synch battle judged by the audience – Ghetto Fabulous’ Family Catwalk Extravaganza; Sonia Sabri Company’s dance piece inspired by traditional Indian and Persian miniature paintings, Mughal Miniatures; a bar installation that creates sounds – Working Boys Club’s Serving Sounds; and this year’s headline festival experience, Unlimited Theatre and Upswing’s Ancient Futures, blending dance, circus, parkour, music and storytelling and is inspired by West African folklore and futurism. This performance is a ticketed event, capacity is limited, pre-booking is required.

Hat Fair is so called after the ‘hatters’ – performers who hold out a hat after their performance to collect donations. Each year they come from around the world and this year’s hatters will showcase death defying hoop stunts (Angie Mack); physical comedy and mime (Mr Banana); acrobatics and live ukulele music (Barada Street); clown skills (Herbie Treehead); deadpan comedy and oversized art (Jon Hicks); magic (Richard Kimberly); juggling and synchronized dance (Fit Up Productions)

There will also be performances from professional acts such as The Trick Brothers with Skiing Odyssey - two cross-country skiers are lost on a wandering journey, featuring street theatre, self-irony and juggling; Seve Feathers’ Fleeting witnesses a performer coated in powered chalk combine circus and dance movements; while, Hands Down Circus’ Tape That is a charming, light-hearted and non-verbal acrobatic duet where two performers construct a visual world with only tape!

On Saturday evening, there will be a guilty pleasures party, hosted by Gobbledegook Theatre’s High Priestess of Pop and the Disco Druids – who festival-goers will see roaming the city over the weekend, playing party music – with rThe Hush Club’s Rave Rover – a glittering DJ booth on wheels. The Saturday evening confessional will be followed by a colourful disco courtesy of The Hush Club – best known for their Bournemouth cliff top parties and festival appearances.

"The festival will once again bring joy, colour and celebration to Winchester city centre."

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair and Playmakers Director, Play to the Crowd

Hat Fair also celebrates local and this summer, Playmakers Youth Theatre will present performances using unique spaces around Winchester, including Dean Garnier Garden. We welcome back Georgina Willis – one of the winners of last year’s Playmakers Top Hat, which showcases outdoor work from University of Winchester students. Winchester-based Blue Apple Theatre Company return – with song and a colourful walkabout piece. Eastleigh’s Orb Youth Dance Co. perform Borderline, exploring displaced people; and Winchester’s Liberate Dance challenge what wheelchair dance looks like, with Lion - St Mesa. Hampshire Cultural Trust’s immersive attraction, 878AD, comes to life on the streets. Plus, there will be music from local artists - expect rock, folk, modern songs, vintage classics, uplifting summer songs, and choir numbers.

Hat Fair and Playmakers Director, Andrew Loretto, says ‘From the banging soundtrack and fabulous costumes of Ancient Futures and Family Catwalk Extravaganza to traditional Indian dance with Mughal Miniatures and a party featuring your favourite dance records with Gobbledegook Theatre, Hat Fair will bring people of all ages together for two days of surprise, entertainment and fun.’

Full line up