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Record-breaking audiences!

We’re thrilled to announce that Hat Fair 2019 saw our highest attendance yet.

There were 96,714 attendances at the countless theatre, dance, circus, music (and more) performances that took place across the city at the festival in July.

That’s up from 79,345 attendances in 2018 and 56,218 in 2017 – and it’s all thanks to the amazing line-up we had at this, the UK’s longest running festival of Outdoor Arts.

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair Director, commented: “Audiences turned out in their droves to celebrate diverse local and international performances in the beautiful summer sunshine – and we couldn't ask for a better backdrop than the streets and green spaces of Winchester city centre."

This year’s event, which celebrates 45 years this year, was our biggest and brightest yet – with the festivities kicking off with an enormous Carnival and hundreds of school children and theatre companies parading through the city.

Returning headline act, dance company, Motionhouse, performed a stunning dance-circus piece called Wild, which saw them carrying out daring feats across a high-rise forest of poles.

Once more the city played host to a multitude of entertaining Hatters, who pulled in the crowds. (The Hatters are so called because they collect donations in a hat following their performance – with hatting (or busking) the tradition that the festival takes its name from.)

Arriving from around the world, we enjoyed the likes of the UK’s Strong Lady, Spain’s Grumpy Pants – who juggled everything from suitcases to glasses of water – Australian acrobats, The Maids, and Hat Fair veterans, double act Garaghty and Thom with Street Comedy.

Winchester played a key role, acting as backdrop for shows, or becoming the focus. Feathers Ensemble’s In the City Still saw three performers combine acrobatics and music to travel down the beautiful Weirs Walk, which takes in the River Itchen that runs through the city.

Local talent was showcased too, and the Top Hat Competition delivered another winner – this year, Lottie Clist, who will receive mentoring to develop a show for next year’s festival, and we cannot wait to see what she comes up with.

We had a great time this summer and we hope you did too.

We look forward to seeing you again next year!

"I'm so proud of all our volunteers, artists and festival team that made this year's Hat Fair a success with the public."

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair Director