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 Saturday the 17th of November and closes on Thursday 20th of December. It is open from 10am to 6pm Sunday to Wednesday and 10am to 7.30pm Thursday to Saturday.
The star attraction 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 Saturday 17th of November to Wednesday 2nd 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 roughly fifty minutes on the ice. Tickets cost £11.00 per Adult and £8.95 for Children aged 8 to 16 and £6.95 for children 2-7.
However, the best value ticket for famililes is to grab a Parent and Toddler ticket where teh two of you can skate for £11.00. The restriction on this ticket is that you must skate at 10am and it only available until the 20th of December. 10am is actually the best time to skate anyway as the rink will be much quieter than at other times of the day and is restricted to parents and little ones.
Just think after an hour on the ice you would have really earnt that cup of mulled wine and a mince pie.
Tickets can be purchased on the day but we recommend you buy them in advance to avoid dissappointment. Buy your ice skating tickets at the Winchester Cathedral Wbsite
One fun area for kids at the Winchester Christmas Market is the Nativity Scene.
This always brings a smile to the Travelbetter kids and it is a great photo stop for them as they can sit in the nativity scene.
The food is probably my favourite part of the Winchester Christmas Market (not a susprise if you follow us on Instagram). There is just so much delcious and indulgent food to enjoy from Bratwurst to Crepes to Salt Beef to Artisan chocolate.
Then wash it all down with a Mulled Wine or Cider, or one of the many many Coffee shops Winchester has.
Food can be found dotted around the Market but mainly in the dedicated foodie corner. Just follow the delicious smells.
As well as the great food at the Christmas Market Winchester has lots to offer for the foodie traveller. So here are some of the best places to eat in Winchester at Christmas.
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 your visit to Winchester at Christmas take a couple of days and stay at one of these great hotels.
For more details on each of our recommended hotels take a look at our Winchester Christmas Market Hotel Guide
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. To help with your trip take a look at this map of the parking options in Winchester.
Only a couple of things really. The first is that the Market closes at 6pm most days so no nice evening strolls with a warm mulled wine and Christmas lights to look at. The second is that it gets very crowded and really isn't a good place for a push chair or pram but this is common to most Christmas Markets.
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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