MORE than 60,000 people are expected to converge on Winchester for the annual Hat Fair.

The event which will take place from July 1 to 3 will see more than 230 performers in 20 different outdoor sites around the city centre on Friday and Saturday.

A huge range of performers are taking part in the festival from the primary schoolchildren who will open the festival with a parade themed around Roald Dahl to the 80-year-old performers of an installation called Bed.

Highlights include an Urban Astronaut ‘space-walking’ 20 feet in the air, children giving adults haircuts, a roaming Grassman wearing a suit grown from real grass and the UK première of a stunning dance performance by Collectif A/R from France.

Artistic director of the Hat Fair, Michelle Walker said: “Hat Fair is a melting pot of international artists but it’s important that we showcase local talent too.

“One of the special things about Hat Fair is that it provides free and unfettered access to arts and culture for anybody and everybody.”

Saturday concludes with two spectacular evening events.

Renowned circus company Ockham’s Razor present Tipping Point in the Bus Station, a show in which performers balance on, cling to, and manipulate 5-metre long poles. Then 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.

The Children’s Area in Cathedral Inner Close will offer plenty of activities to interest and entertain younger festival attenders. 

Hat Fair has co-commissioned with The Point Eastleigh a new theatre piece from Sharklegs Theatre. Long, Broad & Sharpsight looks at what it’s like to be ‘different’.

Pupils from Winnall Primary School will offer adults free Haircuts By Children in Regis hair salon on Colebrook Street.

As always, top street theatre performers from around the world will busk, or ‘hat’, in the High Street, The Square and Abbey Gardens, maintaining the long tradition that gives the festival its name. 

Hatters for 2016 include acrobat’s manoAmano from Argentina and Les Dudes from Canada.

Winchester favourites Blue Apple Theatre are creating a roaming piece based on Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky, and the Fringe Festival in The Brooks Shopping will present shows by Winchester students and recent graduates.

To cope with the demand, special services for the weekend have been laid on by Stagecoach Buses and the Winchester Park & Ride service.

There will be some road closures. On Friday to Sunday High Street, The Square, Great Minster Street, The Broadway and Colebrook Street, Market Street, Market Lane, Tanner Street and Silver Hill will be closed, Parchment Street will also be closed on Saturday.