AN urban astronaut 'space walking' 20 feet in the air, a roaming grass man, a masked audience and the UK premiere of a thrilling French dance performance are among the highlights of the 2016 Hat Fair.

The programme for Winchester's largest festival has been revealed and organisers are promising 234 performances across three days from July 1 to 3.

Saturday concludes with two spectacular evening events. Renowned circus company Ockham’s Razor make their Hat Fair début with Tipping Point in the Bus Station off Broadway, a show in which performers balance on, cling to, and manipulate 5-metre long poles. Then, in a late night finale, six female dancers run and leap around on the roof of Chesil Street Multi-Storey car park in the breath-taking Of Riders & Running Horses by Still House & Mayk.

One of the most popular events from last Christmas’s Woolly Hat Fair returns giving people another chance to enter an old air raid shelter underneath Jewry Street, accompanied by a World War Two Soundscape which uses archive audio clips from Hampshire Record Office.

Canadian theatre company Mammalian Diving Reflex will be training 10-year-olds from Winnall Primary School in hairdressing in June. The children will then take over Regis hair salon on Colebrook Street to offer free haircuts to festival-goers

Visitors can take part in a restaging of the famous audition scene from the 1985 film A Chorus Line on The Broadway. Participants in The Audition Project by Miss High Leg Kick can simply turn up and join in, although 1980s-style fancy dress is welcomed! Festival-goers may also want to bring their swimming costumes to bathe in a mobile bathtub which will be pulled around the festival by an Italian vespa in Vespaqua.

As always, top street theatre performers from around the world will also busk, or ‘hat’ in the High Street, The Square and in Abbey Gardens, maintaining the long tradition that gives the festival its name. Hatters for 2016 include manoAmano from Argentina and Les Dudes from Canada.

Artistic director Michelle Walker said: "There is an enormous range of performers taking part in the festival, from the primary schoolchildren who will open the festival with a parade themed around Roald Dahl to the 70- and 80-year-old performers of an installation called Bed, which is about loneliness and isolation in old age.

"We hope there’s something in the programme for everyone – whether you’re a first-time visitor to Hat Fair or a seasoned culture vulture! And there are lots of opportunities to join in and get involved.

"Hat Fair is a melting pot of international artists but it’s important that we showcase local talent too,’ said Michelle Walker. Winchester favourites Blue Apple Theatre are creating a roaming piece based on Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, and the Fringe Festival will present shows by Winchester students and recent graduates.

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