When the University of Winchester decided not to hold the popular Writers’ Festival in 2020, director Sara Gangai took the opportunity to create a new event with a fresh new, now virtual, programme.
“Hat Fair is a bit like letting your cheeky cousin loose in Winchester,” says festival director Andrew Loretto. “It’s playful, it’s fun and it’s full of surprises, but most of all it empowers local people to celebrate and re-imagine where they live.”
Celebrating the street theatre and music that have added colour to the city for centuries, Hat Fair was conceived as a busking festival in 1974. It’s now the UK’s longest-running festival of outdoor arts, and attracted over 53,000 people last year with 120 live performances.
Winchester marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death with events across the city. Jane lived in Hampshire, writing in Chawton, and came to Winchester for the final few weeks before her death in the city in 1817. From exhibitions and talks to street performance, Austen fans have plenty to enjoy.
Find out more about Jane’s life and work at an exhibition by Hampshire Cultural Trust and Jane Austen’s House Museum at Winchester Discovery Centre. See Jane’s pelisse coat, first editions of her work, personal letters and a collection of portraits up close in The Gallery. 01962 873603 www.hants.gov.uk/wdc
It’s the UK’s longest-running festival of outdoor arts, attracting audiences of 58,000 to over 200 live performances last year.
This year’s Hat Fair runs from 30 June to 2 July, with a new director, Andrew Loretto, at the helm.
“Hat Fair was conceived as a busking festival in 1974 and is inspired now as it was then by the people, heritage and public spaces within the city,” Andrew says. “Our aim is to transform the everyday into the extraordinary.
“Indulge in a little bit of what you fancy as often as you can.” That’s what Gary Whiter, co-founder of Winchester’s Cabinet Rooms, believes.
Gary and Marcus Roe, the two bearded gentlemen, as they’ve become known, are kicking off the Summer with Ginchester Fête, a celebration of all things gin, which comes to the Great Hall on World Gin Day, 10 June. Tickets cost £10 and include a drink on arrival.