Family travel

Hats off to Winchester

Comedy: Goronwy Thom & Richard Garaghty
We’ve just returned from a fabulous weekend rallying on the outskirts of Winchester, the ancient capital of England.
Each July the city hosts its street theatre festival, the Hat Fair. This lively three-day event attracts more than 50,000 visitors to see acts ranging from one man bands to madcap theatre companies. The ‘hatters’ are accompanied by arts, crafts and vintage stalls to satisfy shoppers.
Our rally was within walking distance of the fun, allowing us to dip into the festivities in between relaxing by the caravan and sparking up the BBQ. 
During the weekend we made two lunchtime trips into town with the aim of avoiding having to negotiate the biggest crowds with baby Tin Box. When we arrived on the High Street late on Saturday morning it was already buzzing with activity, and the outdoor seating at the various cafes and bars was packed. 
It was in the Corner of the Square that we saw our first act – Goronwy Thom and Richard Garaghty. This comedy duo are Hat Fair regulars and entertain the crowds with circus tricks and cheeky banter.
Picnicking by the Cathedral
Next we found a cool spot on the Cathedral lawn to take a breather along with hundreds of picnickers enjoying the sunshine.

We’d had a large breakfast so decided to resist the naughty treats being served up on nearby stalls. This brief leg rest gave us a chance to check out the Hat Fair mobile app, which lists the show times and pin points the performance locations, to decide on our next move.

In previous years, we haven’t ventured further than the High Street or Cathedral to find entertainment. So the app was invaluable for helping us find new show areas. Outside the Law Courts we discovered our favourite act of the Hat Fair – the Imaginary Menagery, performed by Les Enfants Terribles.

Les Enfants Terribles outside The Law Courts

This 40 minute show was billed as ‘the most magnifical, tremendible and fantasticulous experience in town’. I have no idea what that means, but what I can say that it was brilliantly staged and immensely entertaining. The menagery’s characters take you on a journey around the world with tall tales about magical beasts and heroic adventures. The fast-paced performance and great use of props meant you could easily forget they were spinning their spectacular story from the back of a glorified horse box.

On the Sunday we browsed the vintage market, and indulged in a picnic lunch of filo pastry pies and frozen Greek yogurt courtesy of the food stalls.

Sadly we will not be taking the caravan to the Hat Fair next year as our rally venue is no longer taking bookings. However, I have a feeling we might still plan it as a day trip.