The beautiful city of Winchester provides the perfect backdrop to the festive season with the stunning cathedral taking centre stage.
The excitement starts on 16 November with the Christmas lights switch on. Taking place from a stage on The Broadway, outside Winchester Guildhall. There is live entertainment from 4.30pm with HEART FM. Midway through the evening a local hero will take to the stage and flick the switch to light up the city.
Full details can be found here christmasinwinchester.co.uk
The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market starts the following day and is open daily until 21 December. It is recognised as one of the best in Europe. It has a bustling atmosphere, stunning location and handpicked high-quality exhibitors. These include a UK Makers’ Market and local independent retailers and food producers. If all that shopping has worked up your appetite, you can grab something delicious to eat and drink in the food court. You can enjoy your treats whilst watching performances on the Community Stage.
During your visit, take some time out and step inside the cathedral, which is a magical place at Christmas. There will be a range of seasonal services taking place from Advent Evensongs to Carol Services. A general admission ticket lasts a whole year, so you can return as many times as you like.
You can find more information, including details of the lantern parade at winchester-cathedral.org.uk/christmas/
Glow Marwell will see the zoo decked in half a million twinkling lights and illuminations. Event highlights include a 36 metre multicoloured light tunnel, a specially created enchanted tree, rainbow road and a magical glow forest. On premium nights surprise Glow acts including a giant illuminated swooping Barn Owl and a 7ft living Snow Globe will dazzle guests.
Father Christmas will also be on hand to spread some seasonal cheer in his festive grotto on selected dates. Glow Marwell is running from Friday 24 November to Saturday 25 November, Friday 1 December to Saturday 23 December and Wednesday 27 December to Saturday 30 December. It is open 1pm until 8pm and Glow Marwell tickets include freeaccess to the zoo (1pm until 4pm).
Tickets need to be pre-booked via marwell.org.uk
Santa is visiting the Planetarium at Winchester Science Centre this festive season. Between Saturday 16 and Saturday 23 December families are invited to blast into Cosmic Christmas. This is a live-action immersive space adventure. It includes live science, magical effects and an out-of-this-world journey through space projected on the Planetarium dome. A journey that will bring a brand-new original Christmas tale to life. Afterwards children get to meet Santa himself and receive a special Christmas gift.
Winchester Science Centre has planned a totally roar-cus festive season. You will be able to enjoy the sights, sounds and science of Christmas past…way past. Dinosaurs are returning for Science Dino-mite on weekends and school holidays between Saturday 1 December 2023 and Tuesday 2 January 2024. Families can join the excavation team in Dino Dig, handle some real fossils in Dino Discovery. They can also meet Trixie the baby Triceratops and be wowed by live science in The Dino Show – all free with admission.
To find out more about Cosmic Christmas and Science Dino-mite and to book tickets visit WinchesterScienceCentre.org.
Hampshire Cultural Trust has a vast array of Christmas activities. Try coin-minting at 878 AD and learn how the Anglo-Saxons made their currency. Watch your own coin being stamped right in front of your eyes and take home your own piece of history!
Pre-booking recommended via 878ad.co.uk/
Father Christmas will be dropping down the chimney at the Westgate Museum. See him on Saturday 9 to Sunday 10 December and Saturday 16 to Sunday 17 December. Find out if you made it on to the good list and receive a gift from the man himself. Then head down to Winchester City Museum to get stuck into a Christmas craft and trail! Finally, treat yourself to a hot chocolate to go – a Christmas day out complete with all the trimmings!
More details via hampshireculture.org.uk/westgate-museum
The Winchester City Museum is also hosting magic shows and workshops on Thursday 28 December. Whether you’re in need of a touch of magic or you are an aspiring magician, this performance promises to be fun for all! Each show will be followed up by a magic workshop, where you can learn how to perform some of the amazing tricks you have just seen.
For more information visit hampshireculture.org.uk/event/magic-show-and-magicians-workshop
The Arc will be hosting a range of children’s craft workshops. These include making reindeer ears, pom-pom Santas and a lolly stick gingerbread house decoration. All workshops cost between £6 and £8 per child, accompanying adults free. Refreshments available from Café at The Arc before and after the session. Suitable for ages 6+, children must be accompanied.
Pre-booking required via arcwinchester.org.uk/
Adults can get in on the craft action at Arc After Dark: Chocolate baubles with Chocolate Craft on Friday 1 December.Expert chocolatiers from Chocolate Craft, whose clients include Fortnum & Mason, will teach you fine piping techniques and information about the background of the chocolate too. All packaging is provided to ensure your finished products will wow your family and friends.
Book your spot via arcwinchester.org.uk/
Another very popular event for the grown-ups is Fairy Lights & Fizz. The Vineyards of Hampshire will come together in the suitably grand and bedecked Bapsy Hall at the Guildhall on Thursday 23 November. It’s a fantastic opportunity to find new wines, taste Hampshire fizz and mingle with the winemakers. There is also the all-important Fizz Shop to place your festive orders for takeaway or delivery. Look out for some Winchester wineries including Exton Park, The Grange, Hambledon, Hattingley, Louis Pommery England and Raimes.
Book your ticket here vineyardsofhampshire.co.uk
If you are looking for unique shopping and dining, Winchester BID has created a Winchester Independents Festive Map. This can be picked up at various locations across the city. It features great places to buy gifts and enjoy a delicious festive treat or meal out. You will also find some rather special independent shops, cafes and restaurants in our nearby market towns of Alresford, Bishop’s Waltham and Wickham. Pick up one of our Market Towns guides at the Visitor Information Centre for more details.
Getting to Winchester is easy by train as it’s just one hour from London. It is also well connected for cars and coaches via the M3 and major A roads leading to various park and ride spots close to the city. You can even reach us by plane or boat thanks Winchester’s proximity to Southampton Airport and cruise terminals.
For the latest news of Winchester’s Christmas events across the district go to christmasinwinchester.co.uk or follow us @visitwinchesteruk.