The Winchester Christmas Market is really the heart of Christmas in Winchester. It is based on the traditional German Christmas markets with many wooden stalls in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral offering a range of high quality items that would all make excellent Christmas gifts or special treats for yourself. Plus, it is a great place to grab some more unique Christmas decorations and enjoy some festive food.
The Winchester Christmas Market also includes a special area for British craftspeople to take part in the market and sell their creations such as handmade jewellery, glass work, textiles and other unique items.
The Winchester Christmas Market opens on Monday the 20th of November and closes on Friday the 22nd of December. It is open from 10am to 6pm Sunday to Wednesday and 10am to 7.30pm Thursday to Saturday.
One of the star attractions of Christmas in Winchester and the Christmas Market is the Ice Rink in the middle of the market at the Cathedral inner close. The Ice Rink is a good size and recently become covered so even useable in the rain. Plus, the ice skater numbers are controlled well so you always have space to ice skate, or learn to ice skate, making it great for the whole family. Also, the Winchester Ice Rink includes several helper penguins for the little ones (and their parents) to hold on to until you gain confidence.
The Winchester Ice Rink is open from Monday 20th of November to Sunday 7th of January from 10am to 9pm each day. Tickets for the ice rink last 1 hour and this includes time to get fitted for ice skates so ultimately gives you fifty minutes on the ice. Tickets cost £11.50 per Adult and £9.50 for Children aged 8 to 18 and £6.95 for children 4-7.
Plus, if you are visiting Winchester with little ones the Ice Rink reserve the 10am session to Parents and Toddlers only allowing you the chance to get the little one confident on the ice.
While tickets can be purchased on the day it is best to get them in advance at the Winchester Cathedral Wbsite
Mulled wine (Gluvein), Bratwurst and Crepes are just some of the foodie treats on offer at the Winchester Christmas Market. There is an artisan food area providing traditional and modern Christmas Market treats and after an hour on the Ice Rink a mulled wine and stollen cake really hit the spot and provide some much needed warmth.
As well as the Christmas Market and ice rink, Winchester has a host of other exciting things happening over the Christmas period and here are just a few of the events planned.
The Cathedral Choirs will be putting on a Cathedral Carol Concert on the 15th of December hosted by local TV presenter Sally Taylor. Tickets can be purchased from the Cathedral box office.
On Sunday the 10th of December a performance of the Children’s classic The Snowman will take place at the Cathedral with live Orchestral music and the famous Cathedral Choristers singing. Tickets to the Snowman can be purchased at the Cathedral box office.
Between the 20th of November and 16th of December there will be twilight tours of the Cathedral towers providing not only the best views of the city and Christmas Markets but also a cup of tea and mince pie.
Just outside of the City the Science Centre and Planetarium will be running a special Santa and the Elves Christmas Science Experience. The Science centre is a fun and hands on place dedicated to getting kids interested in science and learning about how the world and universe work. For more details see their website.
From the 15th to the 18th of November the Winchester Opera Society will be putting on a performance of Irvin Berlin’s White Christmas with famous songs like Happy Holidays, Sisters and White Christmas. This is being performed at the Theatre Royal.
Little brother to the Summer fringe festival the Woolly Hat Fair will be returning to Winchester again with many free live performances and art throughout the city between the 20th of November and 22nd of December. For information check out the official Hat Fair website.
If you have been inspired by the Great British Bake or just love to cook, then you won’t want to miss the Stir-Up Sunday Baking demonstration at the Winchester City mill where they will be making traditional puddings from scratch.
As well as the food huts at the Christmas Market, Winchester has lots to offer for the foodie traveller and here are some of the best places to eat in Winchester at Christmas but we recommend you book in advance as they will get filled up.
The Chesil Rectory is a unique restaurant house in a 600 year old Medieval house that actually sits a few feet below the modern street level and has to be seen to be believed and enjoyed. It is a wonderful restaurant serving first class modern British food with good service. The Chesil Rectory also serves one of the best Gin and Tonics in Winchester and that is up against some stiff competition. The Chesil Rectory can be found at 1 Chesil Street and contacted on 01962 851555
The Black Rat is a Michelin Star restaurant that prides itself on innovative cuisine made from as much local produce as possible. Despite being a Michelin Star restaurant the atmosphere is a relaxed and homely one with the restaurant spread out over many rooms and floors with comfy seating. Also, if you have a large party or just want more piece you can book a private room at the Black Rat. The Black Rat is located at 88 Chesil Street and can be contacted on 01962 844465.
The Wykeham Arms is tucked away nicely between Winchester College and the Cathedral and has a large bar area serving bar meals and more formal restaurant out the back. It has a true cosy and traditional English pub feel with a touch of the upper class borrowed from the nearby college. It is in a great location to visit just as the Christmas Market winds down for the day serving a large range of beer, wines and ciders. The Wykeham Arms is at 75 Kingsgate Street and contacted on 01962 853834.
The King Alfred is the latest acquisition to the Little pub group who own a number of venues in the city. It offers a good range of up market pub food and range of beers and wines to wash it down with all while you sit in a large comfy chair enjoying the fire or in its restaurant area. The Kind Alfred pub is at 11 Saxon road and can be contacted on 01962 854370.
Stable Pizza in Winchester is so much more than just a pizza restaurant, of which Winchester has many, for starters it also server great pies. But the real difference, apart from the pizzas being delicious and fresh, is that Stable Pizza specialise in providing a range of craft ciders (60 in total) to enjoy including the option for a flight of ciders where you can buy three, five or seven smallish ciders to taste. Stable Pizza is located at 31b The Square and can be contacted on 01962 878333.
Dim T is one of our favourite restaurants in Winchester and it is a great place to take the family for a delicious range of Asian food including the likes of Malay Nasi Goreng, Chinese Dim Sum and Japanese Katsu Curry to name a few. Plus, they do a lovely molten chocolate dip for pudding if you can fit it in. Dim T is at 8 Jewry Street at the top of the City Centre and can be contacted on 01962 843000.
Koh Noi takes the concept of tapas and applies it to Thai food allowing you to fill up on lots of little plates of delicious Thai food washed down with a Changi or Singa Beer (Other beers and wines are available but why would you choose them?). Koh Noi can be found at 33 Jewry Street and contacted on 01962 843660.
Waggamama is a well-known chain of Japanese restaurants that server some great Ramen dishes and a great family option with many large tables and booths to sit at. Waggamama is located at Century house on Jewry Street and can be called on 01962 896234.
Rhimjhim is a large upmarket Indian restaurant serving a wide range of Indian cuisine and while you can order the old favourites it has plenty of new and exciting dishes on the menu to try and we would recommend the Old Delhi Chicken. Rhimjhim is located at 1-3 City Road and can be contacted on 01962 868352.
Winchester has a number of Italian style restaurants including Ask Italian, Zizzi and Prezzo with the first two being located in the main high street. They all have large restaurants and serve tasty Italian favourites and light pizzas. Plus, they will all be offering meal deals throughout the festive season and it may be worth looking at a taste card of similar to get the latest deals or simply subscribe to their newsletters to receive deals straight to your inbox.
The Porterhouse, named after its speciality dish this place focusses on providing some of the best steaks in Winchester. Forget fancy side orders (simple vegs side orders can be purchased) and gels etc this is all about the steak. Served with twice fried chips and a choice of two sauces and cooked to your liking over a hot grill. Plus, they have a great wine list to go with your steak. The Porterhouse can be found at 24 Jewry Street heading out of the city just passed the Theatre Royal. Additionally, throughout the week they offer special saver menus outside of peak times.
Rick Stein tops the bill for Seafood in Winchester and can be found at the bottom of the high street not far from King Alfred and the Guildhall.
To really enjoy Winchester at Christmas and the Christmas Market we recommend you stay right in the heart of the city at one of the following hotels.
This hotel sits right in the centre of Winchester next door to the Cathedral and Market. It has a small car park underneath the hotel and includes a restaurant which also serves afternoon tea.
As well as being a somewhat unique pub and restaurant the Wykham Arms includes a comfortable B&B.
A deceptively large hotel with good sized rooms for a city centre and parking options this place can be a heaven of tranquillity while keeping you in the heart of the action at Christmas in Winchester.
If the above centrally located hotels are all full then try one of these which are situated about a 15-minute walk from the city centre.
This is a large hotel with good parking, a gym and even a small swimming pool to rest your aching feet in after a hard day shopping and sightseeing in Winchester. The rooms are a good size and the hotel also includes a restaurant serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and you can get an afternoon tea and spa treatment as well at the hotel.
If you want to split your Winchester visit between the city centre and the wonderful countryside that sits on the outskirts, then consider booking either the Holiday Inn or Langston House hotel.
No matter where you decide to stay for your Christmas break make sure you book now as everything will get booked up even for a midweek break.
Winchester is located in Hampshire in the UK and can be reached by car via the A34 and M3 roads, by trains from Waterloo with South Western Rail and its nearest airport is Southampton but can also easily be reached from Heathrow airport with a taxi costing around £90 each way.
If you do drive to Winchester we recommend you make use of one of the many park and ride carparks just outside the city or alternatively be sure to book a hotel with parking such as the Mecure Wessex, Royal Winchester, or Winchester Hotel.
With so much to choose from it can be difficult to know what to do. That’s why we are here to help with a suggested plan for your visit to Winchester at Christmas. This plan assumes some travel time on day 1 with a hotel check in time of 2pm.
For this trip we recommend booking the Mecure Wessex Hotel for a two-night break. Then for an evening meal book the Chesil Rectory for Day 1 if you are traveling without young kids (under 10), or Dim T if you are. For Day 2 eat at the Wykeham arms on the Saturday night if traveling without young kids, or The Stables if you are.
Travel to Winchester and arrive at your hotel to check in or leave your bags until you can check in. Then take a slow walk around the Cathedral and into the Christmas Market and head straight for the left hand corner and the Mulled Wine. Grab a cup and then carry on your slow stroll around the Christmas Market as you enjoy your wine and checking out the various huts and seeing what’s on offer. Also, grab a quick bite to eat from one of the food stalls.
Next head out the back entrance of the Christmas Market through the old gates and onto College street. Head past, and take photos of, the College, Jane Austen's house and the Old Bishop’s Palace known as Wolvesey Castle (with an optional visit if you like). One past Wolversey Castle take a left at the fork and follow the footpath to the river. Take another left and walk along the river enjoying the site of the clear and fast flowing river Itchen. Five to ten minutes later you will come to a bridge with the Bishop on the Bridge Pub on your left and on the opposite side of the road the National Trust City Mill. Both are worth a visit but we wouldn’t recommend the Bishop on the Bridge is you have young children with you.
From here take another left and head towards the city centre and you will see the impressive statue of Kind Alfred and then Winchester Guildhall on the left hand side. By now it is likely dark and the Christmas lights will be on. So check out the high street and visit any shops that take your fancy or some of the vintage market stalls that can often be found in Winchester High Street.
Next head back to your hotel to chill out for an hour or two before heading out for your evening meal at the Chesil Rectory or Dim T.
After breakfast in your hotel, or at one of the many cafes in Winchester such as Café Monde, head to the Christmas Markets for some ice skating (be sure to book this in advance). Once off the ice grab a coffee to warm up and then take a walk around the Christmas Market again but this time buy the items you noticed the day before. Also, this is a market so don’t be afraid to haggle for some money off. The worst they can say is no and the best is money off so nothing to lose by trying.
Once your Christmas Market shopping is complete then drop it off back at your hotel and then go back to the Cathedral. But this time to visit the actual Catherdral. It has one of the most impressive and longest naives in Europe, has been used in films such as the Divinci Code, and contains a great collection of engravings, books and other treasures (including the grave of Jane Austen). Plus, throughout the Christmas period other event are taking place at the Cathedral including twilight tower tours so you may want to check that out as an option for your visit.
Following your Cathedral visit head into town for a bit more Christmas shopping before going on to your evening meal at the Wykeham arms or The Stables.
Depending on when you leave you have a number of options for day 3 including another visit to the Christmas Market, walking up to the top of the City Centre and the Crown Courts to see the Roundtable and Museum, or taking the little ones to the Pantomime at the Theatre Royal on Jewry Street (this year it is Peter Pan). If you have enough time, then maybe all three and potentially enjoying lunch at The Porterhouse next to the theatre.
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