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ImagePostcard-pretty Winchester provides a constantly attractive backdrop to the UK’s oldest street arts festival and after the washout of 2012, this year the Hat Fair was jam packed and blessed with sunshine. The quantity of work is very dense, hardly a street corner or an intersection goes unprogrammed and outside the cathedral you can barely move for shows packed cheek-by-jowl over the lawn. Many old street art favourites are there alongside commissions and new pieces, a good mix of easy fun and edgy pieces. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Lords of Strut parading in their shorts again, taking oriental tea and magic with Dorothy Soo’s Identi-Tea, being slightly baffled (in a good way) by Kiwi Comedy Productions and having a spiritual automobile session with The Brooklyn Healer. I surprised myself by a nerdy fascination with Spinney Hollow’s woodwork workshops and I never say no to the company of Goronwy Thom, Richard Garaghty or Fraser Hooper. It’s terrific seeing how much local buy-in there is to the Hat Fair – local volunteers and local businesses are an integral part of what is a fun, lively and well-planned festival.

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