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Festival

FREE Outdoor Arts

Hat Fair is a free 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.

  • Friday & Saturday: Two jam-packed dates of arts and culture all around Winchester city centre.
  • Sunday: All-day family picnic at North Walls Recreation Ground, with some of the world’s most spectacular street performers.

There's something for everyone to enjoy, and best of all it's absolutely FREE to attend.

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

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

The Guardian - Lyn Gardner

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 - it's far from free to put on!

We gratefully receive investment from Arts Council England, Winchester City Council, Without Walls and the University of Winchester, as well as sponsorship from local businesses.

We still need to raise £50,000 each year to make each festival happen; so if you love Hat Fair, help us keep it free by giving what you can.

Visit Support us for more info...