THIS year’s hat festival is on course to be bigger, brighter and better than ever according to organisers.

Bridport is hosting its third hat festival again this weekend and the town is preparing for an invasion of visitors.

Even in its first year the brain child of hatter Roger Snook attracted around 4,500 people.

And last year that number swelled to nearly 9,000 – and helped earn Mr Snook his award for the most significant contribution to tourism.

He said: “As long as everybody enjoys themselves that is all we are bothered about.”

The festival this year is supporting Brain Tumour Research and Whizz-Kidz.

The three-day festival started on Friday and committee members Monica Snook, Sandy Malpas, Derek Bussell, Christine Bussell, Rob Malpas and Roger Snook, have collated the programme.

New this year will be a £100 incentive to wear the quirkiest hat you can, with £50 for the runner up and £50 each for the best creation worn by a boy and girl.

The event started with a hat exhibition from the private collection of Jay Ann Knox of Bridport Museum.

Jay said: “Hats are a wonderful creation – they make us walk tall, they give us confidence and anyone can look great in a hat.”

Livingstone Textiles is hosting a free ‘interactive’ exhibition of hats for dressing up in and for a donation to charity you can have a studio photo taken.

Today, Bridport Museum will be displaying a fireman’s helmet belonging to town fireman Edward Seaman Reynolds and between 10am and 4pm, Martin Cox will share some of his fire brigade memorabilia which will include a range of helmets that have protected fire fighters over the last 100 years.

Before the grand gathering in Bucky Doo Square at 12.30pm there’s a children’s hat making workshop from 10am to noon at the Bridport Conservative Club with Sarah Butterworth, a theatre maker specialising in headdresses and giant puppetry.

There is a cocktail hats talk by London milliner Isabelle Mazzitelli at 2.30pm at Bridport Town Hall followed by 1950s afternoon tea buffet.

There is a cabaret and disco in the arts centre in the evening or the band Pronghorn in the Ropermakers.

New this year is psychic Robert Day offering hat readings for £10 for 15 minutes.

Sunday’s delights include the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at The Lyric, Horace the Travelling Pliosaur Cinema on the Millennium Green and Zora and the Tatsmiths at The Ropemakers.