Winchester’S HAT Fair is expanding its reach and ambition for 2012.

This year’s programme will transform the ancient centre into a citywide theatre of the unexpected, the exciting and the bizarre over the weekend of July 6 to 8.

A new strand for this year – Hidden Hat Fair – adds two very special shows to the mix. For the first time audiences can buy a ticket to one – or both – of the exciting and moving performances that use intimate and unusual venues away from the crowded streets. Rotozaza bring Wonder-mart to a local supermarket.

Wearing headphones and anonymous behind your trolley you are guided around the aisles immersed in a private soundscape. Meanwhile ShadyJane’s Edinburgh Fringe hit show of 2011, Sailing On, comes to a local ladies toilet near you for an evening in the company of Ophelia and Virginia Woolf (tickets from Theatre Royal Winchester).

Dutch company Close Act will bring a new version of their dark and thrilling show Invasion to Winchester’s Broadway.

Hat Fair’s largest co-commission will see Générik Vapeur perform their extraordinary new show Waterlitz, complete with its 20 metre high giant Omni Ideal X made from shipping containers.

The Hat Fair will culminate in a new show from upcoming Square Peg Circus – Rime – based on The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The core of Hat Fair activity will be three days filled with some of the cleverest and most original street entertainment from across the UK, Europe and beyond.

Carpeting the widest street in the city, turfing the paved area outside the Discovery Centre to create a safe place for under-5s, dancing outside the finest medieval Great Hall in England and Winchester’s Law Courts it will be quite a spectacle.

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