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 21 November until 22 December this year, 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 mulled wine 🍷
It is quite the festive attraction with the sound of Christmas carols, people having fun on the ice skating rink and the scent of mulled wine and spiced orange in the air as you walk around the brightly 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, one of the first chalets 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 a firm 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 is no exception. It’s a covered area, so no chance of rain, and skaters can utilise a large rink centred around a huge Christmas tree. What could be more festive? Check the website if you are interested in skating, as 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 spirits, (toffee vodka anyone?) and many independent local companies are represented.
Firm favourites are: The Great British Bee Company which sell a range of candles, chocolate, honey and beeswax balms. All of these are lovely, but the best bit is that the company donate a percentage of their profits to UK Bee research.
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.
Silkwood Traders. Selling Vietnamese lacquered wood, all the creations on this stall take a minimum of 3 months to make using centuries old techniques. I bought some incredibly beautiful bowls and vases made out of bamboo and eggshell! They make wonderful presents!
After all that shopping has worn you out, there are plenty of stalls selling flavoured mulled wines, (and even one this year selling Edinburgh Mead!) 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, head to the food section of the market which offers an array of 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. See their menu in the picture below!
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? ❤️🍷
Winchester Christmas Market 2019
Thursday 21 November – Sunday 22 December 2019 Opens 10am each day. Closes 6:30pm Sunday – Wednesday, and 8:00pm Thursday – Saturday.
Crowds – weekends are extremely busy and queues at entry points to the Christmas Market should be expected. If you can visit during the week from Monday – Friday you will experience a more leisurely visit and better opportunities to browse the 100 plus chalets.
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.
Toilets – toilets and disabled toilets and baby changing facilities are available in the Cathedral visitors centre. There are no toilets in the main area of the Christmas Market.
Dogs – dogs are allowed within the Christmas Market but must be on a lead or carried at all times. We do not recommend you bring dogs to the Christmas Market at weekends as the site is very busy.