Winchester Hat Fair will go ahead in 2021

THE longest running festival of outdoor arts, which attracts nearly 100,000 people to Winchester each year, will go ahead this year.

Organisers of the Hat Fair, which features international street performers, dance, circus, music and local community performances and has been running since 1974, will go ahead as planned between July 2 and 4.

Play to the Crowd, the arts and education charity that runs Hat Fair and Theatre Royal Winchester, cancelled the event last year due to the spread of coronavirus.

Deryck Newland, chief executive of Play to the Crowd said: “Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown and the notion that outdoor events can return with controlled numbers by 17 May and many more Covid restrictions could be lifted by 21 June, we feel confident that we will be able to stage a fabulous and safe outdoor festival at the beginning of July.”

Andrew Loretto, Hat Fair and Playmakers director added: “Despite the very welcome news, this year’s festival will take a different format to previous years.

“All three days of this year’s event will take place at North Walls Recreation Ground, it will be socially distanced and ticketed. There are a number of reasons for doing this but fundamentally it allows us to manage the audience numbers and adapt should any further Covid restrictions be brought in, or the date of full restrictions being lifted is pushed back.

“By limiting the numbers able to attend and keeping socially distanced measures in place, we also hope this will give our audiences the confidence to return to a live event of this nature and will create a Covid secure environment for our staff, volunteers and artists.

“We are determined to stage an outdoor festival for Winchester this summer and need to be in a position where we can react to any situation. We can’t think of a better way of celebrating and bringing friends and family together again. We need festivals like Hat Fair more than ever this year and I’m so thrilled that we are able to continue with our plans, albeit in a slightly different format to usual!”

Hat Fair 2021 will take place between Friday, July 2 and Sunday, July 4. Details of the programme and tickets will be available in the next few months.

Details will be posted on and the festival’s social feeds.