He wowed the judges of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent with a magic show like no other, and is now a household name, enjoying sell-out shows across the UK. But Ben Hart says it’s in Winchester that he’s most looking forward to performing this Spring, with his one-man show gracing the stage in his home city, at Theatre Royal.
Julian Eardley knew he wanted to be an actor as soon as he was old enough to climb onto a stage. As Theatre Royal Winchester’s ongoing pantomime dame he has performed in more silly frocks than he can remember, and this year takes to the stage once more as Dame Dottie in Beauty and the Beast.
“Playing a dame is rather like taking on the maternal role in a pantomime but with a good measure of feisty comedy thrown in,” he says. “Because there is so much audience participation, every show is different and that adds to the fun of it. You just never know what might happen on stage.”
Ask the Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, what he enjoys most about his work and he’ll tell you it’s seeing Christianity making a difference in the community.
“The message of Christmas is that Jesus came to be part of everyday life and show us how to live for God and for others,” he says.
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.
Rachel Wragg opened the doors to Winchester College’s Treasury in the medieval Warden’s Stables in October last year, where four galleries are filled with artefacts from around the world.
“Many of the items we have here were gifts from generous benefactors.” Rachel says. “Other treasures were bought to bring lessons to life.”
A glittering jewel box of medieval silver includes the 15th-century Election Cup, which is still used as part of the ceremony of admitting scholars to the school. Stunning Victorian stained-glass panels were uncovered in a dusty attic, while the Duberly collection of Chinese ceramics was given to the school in memory of a boy who lost his life in World War Two.