Winchester Christmas Market is one of those things that you have to do at Christmas if you live in Hampshire, (or further afield for that matter). Set in the grounds of majestic Winchester Cathedral, it runs from 17 November until 20 December and is everything you would want in a Christmas a Market with numerous wooden chalets selling handmade crafts, decorations, jewellery and gifts. And don’t forget the mullled wine….
It’s quite the festive attraction with the sound of Christmas carols, people laughing and having fun on the ice skating rink and the scent of mulled wine and spiced orange in the air as you walk around the decorated chalets. OK, so it gets a bit busy and yes it’s probably a tad pricey, but as Christmas Markets go, it is among the best you will find in the UK. As you round the Cathedral corner and step into the market, the first chalet is a wonderful orange spiced creation selling decorations and Christmas wreaths. It certainly sets the mood. (I imagine that is not by chance.)
Christmas markets originated in Germany, but are now very much a fixture in the UK with Winchester, Bath, Edinburgh, London and Manchester among the best. The history of Christmas markets goes back to the Middle Ages and originated in the German-speaking part of Europe and The Holy Roman Empire. The original Christmas markets were held in the early fourteenth century. Apparently, Vienna’s “December market” can be dated back to 1298.
Most Christmas Markets seem to have a skating rink and Winchester’s is no exception. It’s a covered area, so no chance of rain, and skaters can utilise a large rink centred around a large Christmas tree. What could be more festive? Check the website if you are interested in skating, as I believe it may require pre-booking.
With regards to shopping, the wooden chalets number approximately 110 and are located in 3 separate areas (not all of which are wheelchair accessible). I particularly love the handmade jewellery that is available and always buy some new decorations for the tree or our home. There are various chalets selling local gins and some independent local companies are also represented.
Firm favourites are: The Great British Bee Company which sell a range of candles, chocolate, honey and beeswax balms. All those are lovely but the best bit is that the company donate a percentage of their profits to UK Bee Rearch.
Winchester Gin. This Gin is delicious! And comes in the most beautiful bottle with ornate stopper. Very festive and quite the impressive gift.
Maxine Jones Silver Jewellery. I’ve got into the habit of buying some silver every year from Maxine Jones jewellery. Her handmade silver earrings, bangles and rings are very simple with clean cut lines. Just my style.
Once all that shopping has worn you out, there are several stalls selling flavoured mulled wines and the aroma is in the air as you walk around, which is absolutely fine with me. There’s nothing like the taste of delicious hot mulled wine when it’s cold and you are shopping. (Wine and shopping, two of my favourite things brought together!)
If you are feeling a little peckish after all that wine, look no further than the food section of the market which offers a tantalising dishes from a variety of European countries. My favourites are the sautéed hot potatoes with sausage, onions and cheese and the incredible cheese toasty stall, which may sound a bit basic, but is anything but.
Visit Winchester Market if you can this year. It’s a great experience and will get you in the mood for Christmas. No “Bah Humbug” here, the atmosphere is wonderful and you can literally feel the Christmas spirit in the air. Even all the Christmas shoppers look happy… or is that because they had one too many mulled wines.?🎄
Saturday 17 November – Thursday 20 December 2018
Open from 10.30am – 6.30pm Sunday – Wednesday and 10.30am – 8.00pm Thursday – Saturday
Wheelchair users – the Christmas Market is situated in the Cathedral Inner and Outer Close. Although we have worked hard to provide wheelchair access throughout the site some of our chalets remain inaccessible to wheelchair users. We have a team of stewards on duty at all times who are happy to provide assistance if requested. Please be aware that at weekends the Christmas Market is very busy and although level access and ramps are in place the crowds can make these hard to identify and utilise. Please take great care when visiting the site as there are areas of uneven ground and pavements which can be hazardous.