WINCHESTER Hat Fair's opening ceremony kicked off the festival on its 50th anniversary.

The event was originally going to take place next to Winchester Cathedral, but heavy rain forced it indoors.

The Theatre Royal was quickly prepared to host the show based on this year's theme: "look back, look forward, look up".

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The annual festival will take place this year on the weekend between July 5 and July 7.

After it started pouring down on Friday, July 5, organisers were forced to adapt the songs and dances to a more sheltered setting, but that did not dampen spirits.

Proceedings began with meditations on this year's theme and a sing-song by members of Play to the Crowd, which organises the Hat Festival.

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Then there was a techno dance routine performed by members of the Blue Apple Theatre.

It was all capped off by Autin Dance with a performance of their original show, Parade – The Giant Wheel, a moving performance featuring a 12-foot tall wheel and inspired by the impact of people working together.

This year the acts at Hat Fair will include NoFit State Circus, Bailey’s Original Seaside Imaginarium and Raggle Taggle Arts. Plus, two Hat Fair returners – Tit for Tat Circus and Jeanefer Jean-Charles.

Punters can expect circus, storytelling, stunts, physical theatre, clog dancing, singing, sword fighting, eccentric juggling, contemporary dance and Caribbean choreography.

For more information about the Hat Fair and the performers this weekend, visit