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Hat Fair 2022 line-up!

Hat Fair, the UK’s longest running festival of Outdoor Arts, is back – and this year it will once again take over the city streets and green spaces of Winchester. Held over the first weekend of July, this year Hat Fair runs from Friday 1 – Sunday 3 July and will invite audiences of all ages to watch bright and bold street theatre, music, dance, comedy and circus.

There will be two ways to enjoy Hat Fair. On the Friday and Saturday, the festival will be free, with all performances taking place across the city centre; while on the Sunday, audiences can opt for a more relaxed festival fun-day experience with a ticketed event at North Walls Recreation Ground (with exclusive brand-new shows, outdoor immersive games and gig theatre not featured elsewhere during the festival). But whichever way festival-goers choose to enjoy Hat Fair, they will not bedisappointed by the full programme of performances suitable for all ages and interests.

Hat Fair will commence on the Friday with the Carnival, when hundreds of local school-children will parade through the city streets in colourful costumes and headdresses they have made in school, dancing to samba learnt in preparation. They will start at the Great Hall and after the procession, be greeted in Abbey Gardens by local community groups for a picnic. The parade will be followed by Autin Dance Theatre’s Eko, a 13ft Sea Giant puppet, that features in Out of the Deep Blue – a moving tale about our earth’s climate emergency, which the theatre group will perform on Friday afternoon.

Friday and Saturday feature an international visit from the mighty Fidget Feet with A Handful of Dreams, made possible with support from Culture Ireland. A Handful of Dreams is an awe-inspiring and heart-warming outdoor show that combines aerial and circus arts with live Irish traditional music and dance. This beautiful celebration will connect to the hearts of each audience member while restoring the joy of being alive.

A Handful of Dreams (Trailer)

Hat Fair is a commissioning partner of Without Walls – a network of festivals that work with artists to bring outdoor arts to towns and cities across the UK – this year’s line up features a number of co-commissioned productions including Middle Child's There Should Be Unicorns – a brand-new outdoor musical piece. Plus, Hat Fair veterans Daryl Beeton and Mimbre will return with Look Mum, No Hands!

Tara Theatre presents Final Farewell – a moving theatrical experience that captures the voices of individuals and a little black pug in four poignant audio stories about loved ones who were lost during the pandemic; while Theatre Temoin’s FLOOD includes ‘sound umbrellas’ (featuring voices and music), circus and acrobatics to tell the story of how our coastline and communities have become ‘seasick’.

Other shows include Dizzy O Dare’s Falconry Dismay. Head falconer Kevin Tickle leads a breathtaking display of majestic birds of prey, all with unique behaviours. Or Join Zum Zum’s giant Hippos and ask, are the humans disguised as hippos or are they hippos searching for themselves inside the humans?

Cat and Mouse Theatre recruit stars and crew from the street in Blockbuster Factory; while Bash Street Theatre’s The Cameraman features songs, music and silent comedy in a piece about an inept cameraman who becomes involved in the theft of the world’s largest diamond!

Avanti’s Full Circle draws a crowd through a series of odd actions, with strangers soon helping the performers with a series of tasks and one audience member facing consequences; Curious Company Theatre’s Department of Complaints wants to hear from grumbling audience members. Post a niggle on the board or fill out a form. While Wet Picnic’s Dinner Table is a crash course in decent dining andeating etiquette, surreal and fun with audience participation, food mess and dancing.

"I can’t wait to bring Hat Fair back to the streets of Winchester city centre for the first time in three years. Last year’s Covid-secure version featured a restricted capacity out of necessity so it will be great to return in 2022 to what will hopefully be a full-fat festival in all its glory."

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair and Playmakers Director

Once again Hat Fair will welcome back international street theatre performers or ‘Hatters’ to busk (or ‘hat’ – which is how the festival got its name). Including festival favourite Fraser Hooper, with a mesmeric mime show and complete disregard for his own safety; Felicity Footloose who lives in the 80s and just wants to dance and perform daredevil acrobats; Emillio Allessi with a comic juggling show; Daniel Gonclaves with a participatory clown show; and gentle magician, Jay Park – who tries to be slick but keeps making mistakes until the end of his show when he excites with impressive tricks! Plus, many more, as well as Hat Fair veterans Garaghty and Thom with Streetcomedy – circus trickery, improv and comedy routines suitable for all ages.

The festival will also shine a light on emerging talent, and there will be local talent aplenty performing across the city centre on the Friday and Saturday; and on the Music Stage on the Sunday.

There will also be mini golf; circus skills from children’s favourite Juggling Jake; and the return of Out of Bounds, with Knights of the Renowned Fable – recreating adventures with wizards, kings and dragons. Audiences will get another chance to immerse themselves in the giant colourful labyrinth of chambers, Colourscape, by Eye Music Trust; and see the world in a different way with optical mirror illusion, The Amazing Camera Obscura. Children will love to try a range of musical instruments at The Musication Station. Plus, there will be food, drink and gift stalls.

Hat Fair and Playmakers Director, Andrew Loretto, said: ‘Let’s take to the streets once again on Friday and Saturday with a plethora of free, high quality professional and local community performances. Then buy your tickets for the very different Sunday offer where you can see unique performances and relax on our festival greenfield site.’