City-wide live advent calendar opens its first door in Winchester

This December the first ever Woolly Hat Fair will transform 24 doors in the city of Winchester into a live advent calendar

Each day from 1 to 24 December a door will open somewhere in the city behind which a small moment of festive magic will take place.

From performances, exhibitions and installations to story-telling and puppetry the Woolly Hat Fair Advent Calendar features weird and wonderful happenings for a festive lucky dip, and each surprise event is free.

It is the first year that National portfolio organisation Hat Fair are delivering this Christmas treat. Audiences can go online to find out which door will be opening where on each of the days of Advent and there is a hint for what kind of experience they can expect to encounter there but the exact details of each event will be a secret until the door opens.

Activities and events include Christmas themed poetry at Westgate Museum; an underground music gig in the Chesil Tunnel; children's Christmas stories at the Hampshire Wardrobe; and the Punter's Panto at Theatre Royal Winchester.

Michelle Walker, Artistic Director, Hat Fair, said: 'We're so excited to be adding to the Hat Fair tradition of bringing the city's streets to life with the launch of Woolly Hat Fair. Our first Christmas project will allow audiences to explore every corner of the city, from museums and theatre stages to hidden gardens and underground tunnels, even an old World War Two air raid shelter!

'We hope that the range of 24 different events offers something for everybody, with poetry, music, theatre and visual arts all making an appearance during the month, as well as plenty of quirky, playful events in the spirit of Hat Fair. There's a lot in store for families and young children as well, all for free. In the true spirit of Christmas, the Live Advent Calendar really will represent Winchester celebrating together.'

Hat Fair is the UK's longest running festival of outdoor arts. Founded in 1974 by Jonathan Kay, Hat Fair inspires and is inspired by the people, heritage and public spaces within the city of Winchester. Woolly Hat Fair is part of their vision to create a year-round programme of cultural celebration that encompasses theatre, site specific and outdoor art around the city and beyond.

Phil Gibby, Area Director, Arts Council England, South West, said: 'This is a great start to the season in Winchester. Woolly Hat Fair will animate the city with enchanting moments of arts and culture, bring the local community together in the festive spirit and open up new spaces to engage in and enjoy.'

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