The UK's longest-running festival of outdoor arts, Hat Fair, will be celebrating its 50th year from July 5-7.

A summer theatre, music, and dance extravaganza set in Winchester city centre, the festival is akin to an adventure playground for all ages.

Drawing at least 50,000 people each year, Hat Fair is preparing for a grand opening Carnival that will include a parade of school children and community groups dressed in costumes echoing the theme, Look Back, Look Forwards, Look Up.

This festival, established in 1974, had humble beginnings as a hatting event and carries forward its tradition with 'hatters' or performers collecting donations after their performances in hats.

A series of distinguished performers including favourites Garaghty and Thom will bring clowning, magic, physical comedy, juggling, unicycling, contortion, and acrobatics to the Winchester streets.

Other acts including NoFit State Circus, Bailey’s Original Seaside Imaginarium, Raggle Taggle Arts, Tit for Tat Circus, and Caribbean choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles, will add to the cornucopia of festivities.

Hat Fair prides itself on celebrating local and emerging artists.

This year, Playmakers Youth Theatre groups will showcase original book-themed shows, and the Playmakers Top Hat competition will feature outdoor work by University of Winchester students.

The festival will also see performances from local choirs, musicians, jugglers, and dancers.

Hat Fair's commitment to delivering entertainment for all age groups is notably reflected in the re-appearance of children’s entertainer Juggling Jake.

Additional attractions include crazy golf, t-shirt screen printing, and several stalls for shopping and food.

Hat Fair director Andrew Loretto said: "For the start of Hat Fair's 50th birthday year, we are proud to be showcasing a wide range of community participants at the heart of the festival alongside national and international visiting artists.

"I'm really pleased to be able to run the festival from Friday to Sunday again this year, after having to lose the Sunday programme in 2023 due to loss of core regular funding.

"It's our 50th birthday this year, but we're not standing still, with brand new projects and international partnerships. And despite the challenges, we are actively looking forward to the next fifty years and how best Hat Fair can grow and thrive in the future with support from the public, funders and strategic partners."