Cool Spot: Hat Fair in Winchester
One of the many things I love about living in Winchester is the annual festival of street arts, music, theatre and circus performance: Hat Fair.
Hat Fair is now in its 36th year and got its name from the hat performers pass round at the end of their act. It is a three day festival with performances taking part up and down the High Street, in The Square and the Cathedral Grounds as well as a chilled out Sunday picnic at Oram’s Arbour. There is even a circus school where children can learn essential skills. There is a packed programme and you can either plan you day or turn up and have a wander. As everything is close together you will find that it’s easy to soak up the atmosphere and find plenty to amuse you. There are some acts which are not to be missed and for me Haggis and Charlie (pictured below) are a must see. I have fond memories of Hat Fair from my own childhood and will be heading down there today for the Schools’ Parade which opens proceedings.
If you want to visit here are some of my top tips:
- Get there early or get there late. The crowds are worst around lunchtime and early afternoon on the Saturday so if you want a bit more space early or late is the way to go. Alternatively head in for the quieter Friday and Sunday performances.
- Take water and snacks. There are heaps of places to eat but they will all be busy and you may have to wait, pack extras for little tummies who can’t wait.
- Take lots of change. Every performance has a hat passed around afterwards for you to show your appreciation in coinage (or folding money), children love to run up and hand over the dosh. There are also market stalls dotted around which are cash only.
- Travel light. Only take as much as you really need and if you can, ditch the pushchair.
- Make sure you are well protected from the weather – it is either rainy or sunny for Hat Fair but either way you will be outside the whole time.
Hat Fair is an annual event and is on 2nd – 4th July in 2010.
Photo credits: top Hat Fair, bottom Kat