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Hat Fair 2022 Carnival

Hat Fair 2022 well and truly took to the streets when the Carnival left The Great Hall at midday on Friday 1 July to applauding residents, visitors and workers who came out to support the return of the festival to the city centre after a three-year hiatus.

It was an explosion of colour and sound with the procession led by The New Carnival Company dancing and music from Westgate Samba Band. They were followed by hundreds of local schoolchildren and members of community groups dressed in costume and holding banners based on the themes: Climate Change, Not All Superheroes Wear Capes, Feast of Cultures, Marine Conservation and Party ‘til You Drop – with the overall theme: ‘Take to the Streets Again’.

With them, members of Blue Apple Theatre, Top Hat 2021 winners DoDoDramatics, and individuals who have been working with Winchester City of Sanctuary to make, and who carried, a boat installation to represent them seeking asylum in this country. Plus, Autin Dance Theatre’s 13ft Sea Giant puppet, Eko – who engaged with festival-goers and attempted to climb scaffolding!

The procession followed the High Street, snaked around the Winchester Cathedral grounds and ended up in Abbey Gardens, where the children sat with community groups for an opening speech from Hat Fair Director, Andrew Loretto, a picnic, and performances from festival acts including Zum Zum Theatre with Hippos. If you didn’t see them, they were bright blue, inflatable hippos bopping about joyfully!

In preparation for the parade, The New Carnival Company had taught the school teachers how to make colourful costumes, with the pupils joining in with designing and making them. University of Winchester students, studying dance, taught the teachers a samba routine to show pupils.


Meanwhile, Playmakers – with the support of local charities and community groups – worked with individuals through a series of workshops to make colourful Carnival headdresses, flags and banners inspired by pupils’ designs. Many of these individuals joined their school groups in Abbey Gardens.

Now, we get the chance to thank the schools for taking part – Westgate School, Fryern Infant and Junior Schools, Kingsworthy Primary School, Sherborne House School, Osborne School, Western Primary School and finally, Normangate School (in Andover), who sadly couldn’t attend the parade. However, in May they celebrated their involvement by donning their costumes and performing samba to parents. After, they had a picnic and enjoyed games and cake stalls as part of a Jubilee celebration.

Thanks also go to all the people who came to our Carnival workshops to make decorations for the parade, as well as all the local charities and community groups that helped to host these workshops - Winchester City Sanctuary, Winchester GoLD, St John's WinchesterBrendoncare Otterbourne Social Club, Brendoncare Week, and Wickham Community Centre. With your help we were able to bring local people together to get involved with the event.

Together, you made the Hat Fair Carnival the bright, colourful and lively event that we hoped for – and really woke up Winchester, shouting ‘Hello Winchester, Hat Fair is back!’


Many thanks to Arnold Clark Community Fund and Hampshire County Councillors: Cllr Hiscock, Cllr Tod, Cllr Irish, Cllr Warwick and Cllr Groves for their support of the Carnival.
Photos by Adrienne Photography.