Hat Fair 2017

Hat Fair 2017 Success

Over the weekend more than 60,000 festival goers descended into Winchester to enjoy the UK’s longest running Outdoor Arts Festival, Hat Fair.

The annual three day festival, organised by Live Theatre Winchester Trust, burst into life with a schools parade on Friday, from the beautiful Abbey Gardens to the Cathedral, and culminated in a packed out family picnic day at Oram’s Arbour on Sunday.

One of the highlights of over 40 acts and activities at 17 venues was the world premiere of Silence from the Polish company Teatr Biuro Podróży. The show about refugees took place at the back of the Bus Station on Saturday evening and featured physical theatre, fire, puppetry and music.

Other featured acts included Wired Aerial Theatre performing To Me, To You…, a ‘domestic’ scene performed on a giant rotating crane in Abbey Gardens and How I Hacked My Way Into Space, the story of a man’s mission to set up an international space agency in his garden shed. To mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, Deaf Men Dancing performed a tango dance piece titled Corazón a Corazón outside The Great Hall which fused ground and aerial performance and British Sign Language.

The fun continued on the Pilgrim’s School Lawn with The Actual Reality Arcade where festival goers participated in life sized arcade games: ghosts chased Pac-Man around a maze, Frogger jumped to safety and real life Space Invaders came to life! In Abbey Gardens families helped to construct and then climbed through giant colourful straw-like structures in Stalker Teatro’s Steli and the entertainment continued on the High Street where Jukeboxes sprung to life and shoppers were encouraged to explore human wildlife in Urban Safari!

Hat Fair Fringe Festival, organised by students and recent graduates, took place in The Brooks Shopping. Morning Clubbing got the crowds going and a number of performances by the next generation of talented performers followed.

On Sunday the festival headed up to Oram’s Arbour and featured the traditional ‘Hatters’ from around the world including Felicity Footloose, Quatuor Stomp, Fraser Hooper and StreetComedy. They were also joined by the People’s Stage where local choirs including the Sing Force Workplace Choir, West End Singers and Winnall Rock School entertained the packed audience.

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair and Engagement Director of Live Theatre Winchester Trust, comments “We are absolutely thrilled with the response to this year’s Hat Fair. It was wonderful to see so many people out and about engaging with the acts – there was a real buzz around the city. We would like to thank all of our supporters, investors and sponsors as well as the dozens of volunteers without whom the festival simply couldn’t take place.”

Hat Fair will be returning next year on the first weekend of July, with the Woolly Hat Fair taking place in December. Arts Council England recently announced that Live Theatre Winchester Trust’s Hat Fair will remain a National Portfolio Organisation and will continue to be funded for the next four years. Find out more…

Hat Fair is already looking for businesses to sponsor Woolly Hat Fair 2017 and Hat Fair 2018. To find out more about becoming a sponsor visit hatfair.co.uk/support-us