The best summer festivals in Winchester this year
PUBLISHED: 16:39 10 June 2019
Whether a music lover, a budding writer, a foodie, or simply looking for a great family day out, Winchester is rapidly becoming Hampshire’s festival capital. Mark your diary with some of this summer’s hottest tickets
Winchester Writers' Festival - 14-16 June
"We are delighted to welcome writers of all genres, and at every level, to the festival," says acting director Sara Gangai, ahead of the festival.
A thought-provoking highlight is sure to be the award-winning children's author and keynote speaker Katherine Rundell, with: 'Why you should read children's books, even though you are so old and wise'.
As Sara observes: "The University of Winchester is the ideal location for the Winchester Writers' Festival, not only because of our reputation for excellent creative writing courses, but also because of the beauty, charm and history of the city and surrounding countryside: one cannot but be inspired by the sweeping view of the nave of Winchester Cathedral and St Catherine's Hill from the campus."
Winchestival - 15 June
Harnessing Winchester's new-found fame as the happiest place to live in the UK, a mere five minutes' walk from the historic High Street brings audiences to Devils Island, North Walls Recreation Ground, for a day of entertainment and fun for grown-ups and kids big and small.
According to one of the festival's founders, Gary Bennett: "Winchestival was conceived by three local lads. With five stages of entertainment, which will be headlined by the likes of The Magic Numbers, Milton Jones and Allister Whitehead, Winchestival is in the city, for the city."
Tickets cost £25, children 5-17yrs £13 and under 5s go free.
Hat Fair - 5-7 July
The UK's longest continuously running festival of outdoor arts celebrates its 45th anniversary in 2019. Last year, an estimated 55,000, of all ages, enjoyed the free weekend, with Sunday reserved for an all-day family picnic at North Walls Recreation Ground, served with a buffet of live entertainment.
Director Andrew Loretto says: "Hat Fair shows no signs of growing old quietly with performance surprises to delight you all over Winchester city centre.
"Explore dance along river walks, castle spaces and in beer gardens. See spectacular performance in the back of a bus station. And, join a dusk promenade to Winchester Cathedral. Hat Fair is hugely successful due to a combination of its beautiful location, outstanding local, national and international performances and unique friendly spirit."
Winchester Festival - 5-13 July
The BIG one. Now in its 22nd year, this week-long celebration of the arts is staged in venues city-wide. Headliners include: fabled mountaineer and best-selling author Sir Chris Bonnington, art historian Sir Simon Schama and fellow Knight of the realm and national treasure, Michael Palin.
Also striking a high note, will be the Royal Choral Society with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tallis Scholars and the Winchester Cathedral Chamber Choir, together with some of the best new young musicians.
Boomtown - 7-11 August
Imagine a fictitious city, featuring 12 unique 'districts' and hundreds of actors and circus performers bringing dozens of film-like street sets to life, fused with a diverse multi-genre musical line-up across no less than 27 main stages. This is Boomtown which, over five mesmeric days, invites the audience to become part of its evolving storyline.
Held at the Matterley Bowl within the heart of the South Downs National Park, during the past decade Boomtown has grown to become one of largest independent festivals of its kind in the UK. New for 2019 is Area 404, dedicated to techno, house and acid music; the Lighthouse stage, set to host jazz, soul and funk; and Psytrance, in the heart of an illuminated forest. From US rap rock super group Prophets of Rage and British hip hop sensation The Streets, to electronic legends Groove Armada, it's going to be epic.
Twisted Village - 16-18 August
Providing an alternative 'twist' to mainstream family-friendly offerings, this boutique festival rocks up to the former Blissfields site at Woodmancott, just 10 miles outside of Winchester. A veritable cabinet of curiosities, featuring everything from cabaret and dance to workshops and live mural painting, the Southsea roots of organisers' Heather Todd and Steve Fitzgerald are evident in the well-known south coast DJs and bands added to the music line-up.
Their respect for the planet sees reusable water bottles, solar power and bio-diesel, actively embraced, with the post-festival aim of leaving behind a tiny sparkle and lots of happy memories.
Cheese and Chilli Festival - 17-18 August
Make it a hot, hot summer whatever the weather, when the UK's only dedicated festival to these favourite food heavyweights returns for a packed weekend of amazing tastes, colours and experiences. With a range of local and regional produce to sample, plus free cooking demos, a beer tent and live entertainment, there's the added attraction of £20 worth of discount vouchers on the door.
The festival is open between 10am and 5pm on both days at North Walls Recreation Ground.
For all the latest info about the city's jam-packed calendar of festivals throughout the year go to: visitwinchester.co.uk/whats-on/festivals