THE streets of Winchester will be lined with singers, dancers and other entertainment acts this weekend as the UK’s longest running outdoor arts festival returns.

Hat Fair 2019 will be celebrating its 45th anniversary, and is expected to draw in audiences of more than 70,000 people, as performers from across the world put on a show to remember.

Performances, activities and installations will take place throughout the city centre on Friday and Saturday, with the festivities moving to North Walls Recreation Ground on Sunday.

Director Andrew Loretto said: “I’m particularly looking forward to work that has been specially made for the festival – including a dance promenade along the river, a spoof history tour of Winchester and an exploration of the beautiful Wolvesey Castle.

“Audiences should also look out for an enigmatic fisherman appearing high up on roof tops, spectacular dance-circus at the bus station and an explosion of colour with our opening Carnival featuring hundreds of local young people.”

He added: “Hat Fair 2019 flies the flag for inclusivity, diversity and European internationalism.”

The festival starts on Friday at noon with the Carnival, where hundreds of school children will leave The Great Hall in brightly coloured costumes they have created for the event.

One of last year’s headline acts, Motionhouse, returns with a new piece called WILD, seeing performers will carry out daring moves across an area of poles.

Audiences will also see Tickertape Parade’s Fantabulosa, with interactive storytelling, lip-sync, dress-up, games and songs, inviting the crowds to explore who they want to be.

On Saturday night, festival goers are encouraged to get involved with a giant ceilidh hosted by Folk Dance Remixed.

University of Winchester students will also perform in the Top Hat Competition, and last year’s winner, Martin Jakeman, will make an appearance with Home Fires, inspired by Second World War stories.

This year, the festival boasts a UK premiere with Money for Free by John Fisherman, from Spain.

He invites the public to think about capitalism, society and money.

Acts aimed at younger members of the audience include Magic Glen; arts and crafts and learning to juggle;

There will also be mini-golf, a fun fair, an escape room, food, drink and gift stalls too.

Brochures can be found online, or can be picked up from the Winchester Tourist Information Centre or from Theatre Royal.