If you enjoy visiting Christmas markets, then you’re sure to enjoy Winchester Christmas Market. Set in a unique location next to Winchester Cathedral, this festive market is one of the best in the UK. For some festive cheer, head to England’s Christmas capital. Here are our tips for getting the most from your visit, where to eat and how to snap up some wonderful Christmas gifts.
Winchester Christmas Market Guide
Winchester itself is a very picturesque city in Hampshire, England. Known for its Gothic cathedral, Winchester is also home to The Great Hall.
This medieval building was once part of Winchester Castle and showcases the Round Table. It was thought to be the legendary Round Table of King Arthur although testing has revealed that it dates from the 13th century.
Winchester Christmas Market is held every year and has become one of the most popular Christmas markets in Great Britain. These are the confirmed dates for Winchester Christmas Market 2023:
19 November to 22 December
Read on for the best tips on when to visit, where to eat and what to buy at Winchester Christmas Market this year.
Winchester Christmas Markets History
This Christmas Market was founded in 2006 and has grown from 40 stalls to around 112 today. Awarded one of the top 8 Christmas Markets in Europe by The New York Post, it has over 400,000 visitors each year.
Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market takes inspiration from traditional German Christmas markets. The traders come from all over the UK and are hand picked for the quality of their products.
In 2020, there was a virtual Winchester Christmas Market for the first time ever. Due to the tightening of government restrictions, this was one of the alternative ways to help local businesses. Now the much-loved Christmas market is back after a difficult year, with the ongoing support of the community.
Winchester Market Location
The market is situated in the Inner Close of Winchester Cathedral. Bear in mind that when you arrive at Cathedral Close, the Christmas market isn’t immediately visible.
There are a few stalls in front of the cathedral itself, and if you don’t know Winchester town centre very well you might think that this is the extent of the festive market. A sign indicates to visitors that they should go right but with the crowds it’s easy to miss Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market.
However, if you follow those crowds through Curle’s Passage to the right of the Cathedral, you will find the Inner Close and the majority of the wooden chalets. Named after Bishop Curle who commissioned the passage in 1632, this archway gave pedestrians a route to the Inner Close.
Before that, they had to walk through the cathedral to get there. The passageway is quite narrow and at peak times it can get congested so arm yourself with patience and plenty of time.
Winchester Christmas Market address: Winchester Cathedral, Inner Close, Winchester, Hampshire SO23 9LS
Winchester Christmas Market Cost
There is no entry fee for Winchester Christmas Market and you can exit the market and reenter with no difficulty.There is also no timed entry, so queuing may be necessary at busy times.
Food and Drink at Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market
You have plenty of choice for where to eat at Winchester Christmas market.Many of the stalls serve festive foods and mulled wine.
Winchester Christmas Market Food Court is a selection of food stalls rather than a food court, with options including German bratwurst sausages, British fish and chips, French raclette cheese, mulled wine and other delicacies. This is the most atmospheric way of eating at Winchester Christmas Market. However, there is nowhere to sit and there are no covered areas so if it’s raining, then it’s best to head to the Refectory.
Winchester Cathedral Cafe is located before you go through Curle’s Passage. This self service cafe has plenty of space indoors and in the courtyard terrace garden. It is open from 10 am to 4.30 pm. The cafe has disabled access and toilet facilities.
If it’s really busy, you might prefer to eat at one of the cafes or restaurants nearby. Here are a few of our favourites located near to Winchester Christmas Markets:
- The Dispensary Kitchen – a casual all day eatery located on The Square.
- The Ivy Winchester Brasserie – in the middle of the High Street, it is beautifully decorated for the festive season.
- The Winchester Orangery – possibly the most Instagrammable cafe in Winchester!
Shopping at Winchester Christmas Market
As the retailers are each selected by the Winchester Cathedral team, they are all high quality exhibitors. You won’t find any tacky gifts here!
The stalls vary each year and in fact some of them are only exhibiting for half of the event. New stalls set up on 7 December.
On the date of our visit at the beginning of Winchester Christmas Market, there were some great exhibitors including Pollyfields, who make handcrafted wreaths and table decorations. Their products smell amazing and they were recently awarded best stand at the separate Country Homes & Interiors Magazine Fair.
We also like the range of clothing stands, and we snapped up a couple of reversible shawls – one as a a gift and one for ourselves! The Polish crockery stand is another good one for presents.
British Crafts Village
Another nice feature of the fair is the British Crafts Village. This section of the market features unique gifts by British craftspeople. It’s easy to find, as there’s a big red sign in front of the cloisters where these stalls are located.
Among the small independent retailers there are glassmakers and textile artists, together with stalls selling handmade Christmas tree decorations, wooden animal sculptures and jewellery.
Winchester Nativity Scene
At the end of the British Crafts Village there’s a charming nativity scene, reminding all of the message of Christmas. It was designed by local schoolchildren and is a popular photo spot.
Winchester Cathedral Performance Stage
Taking the place of the Winchester Christmas Market Ice Rink once again this year is the Winchester Cathedral Performance Stage. There will be free musical performances including jazz groups, local choirs, city buskers and community bands.
These will take place on certain dates from 18 November to 22 December.
Visiting Winchester Christmas Market
We recommend that you visit during the week if at all possible. It gets very busy at weekends, so if you have to come then, try to visit in the morning.
Winchester Christmas Market is open from 10.00am – 6.00pm Sunday – Thurday and 10.00am – 8.00pm Friday – Saturday.
Whilst you are allowed to bring dogs to the Christmas Market, they must be kept on a leash or carried. It’s strongly recommended not to bring dogs at the weekend as it’s usually so busy.
Coach parties are asked to book in advance. Winchester Cathedral provides a meet and greet service for groups and will assist in booking tours of the Cathedral. Winchester Tourist Information Centre can also assist with itineraries or suggesting places to stay. Contact Winchester Cathedral Visitor Team on +44 1962 857 225 or by email email@example.com and Winchester Tourist Information Centre on 01962 840 500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s advisable to come by public transport or to use a Park and Ride bus. There are car parks in the centre of Winchester but they tend to be very busy when the market is open.
There aren’t any toilets inside the Inner Close, however if you’re a client of the Cathedral Refectory, there are public conveniences located there. You can also find toilets with disabled access and baby changing facilities in the Cathedral Visitors’ Centre, for which there is a charge.
The main sections of Winchester Fair in the Inner and Outer Close are accessible for wheelchair users. The British Craft Village is located within the historic cloisters up a flight of stairs.
Winchester Christmas Market Events
There are lots of other interesting events in Winchester at Christmastime. No wonder the town is known as England’s Christmas capital! The following list is not exhaustive:
- Light of Hope Installation – in the Cathedral nave until 1 January 2023.
- Lantern Parade – from 5 pm on 18 November.
- The Nutcracker and the Mouse King – ticketed puppetry performances on 19 November.
- Special Christmas Rooftop Tower Tours – for panoramic views of Winchester and the market. Taking place from 21 November to 21 December. Purchase your ticket in advance from the Box Office – tel. +44 1962 857275.
- Waynflete Singers with the London Mozart Players Gloria – ticketed event on 3 December at 7.30 pm.
- Christmas Silversmithing Workshops – ticketed events on 7, 10, 14 and 17 December.
- Chamber Choir Concert – ticketed event on 10 December at 12 pm.
- Star of Wonder Sound and Light Show by Luxmuralis – ticketed event from 13-18 December.
- Children’s Christmas Craft Workshops – ticketed events from 8-21 December.
- The Choral Foundation Christmas Concert – ticketed event at 7 pm on 15 December.
- Winchester Cathedral Carol Services – 19-22 December at 6.30 pm.
- Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols – ticketed event on 21 December at 4 pm.
- Christmas Floral Centerpiece Workshops – ticketed events on 20 and 22 December.
Other Things to Do in Winchester
Winchester is the county town of Hampshire and a real foodie and shopping hub. At Christmastime, Winchester High Street has a large illuminated tree and the shops are beautifully decorated.
The first king of England, Egbert, was crowned in Winchester. The city was the capital of England until 1066 when it was transferred to Westminster.
Visitors can’t help but be impressed by the wealth of historical attractions here, including:
- Literary Walking Tour – discover the links between famous authors such as Jane Austen and John Keats with Winchester.
- The Great Hall – founded in 1067, it houses the Round Table of King Arthur, which actually dates from the 13th century.
- The Hospital of St Cross – the oldest almshouse still in use in the UK, it dates from 1132.
- Traditional Pubs Walking Tour – visit the best pubs in Winchester and learn about their history during this 2.5 hour small group guided tour.
- Winchester Cathedral – this medieval castle is the resting place of Jane Austen, Saxon kings and also contains the 12th century Winchester Bible.
- Winchester College – this boarding school is thought to be the oldest continually running school in the UK.
- Winchester Military Museums – including The Gurkha Museum in Peninsula Barracks.
- Wolvesey Castle – the ruins of the Old Bishop’s Palace are located next to Winchester Cathedral.
Winchester Christmas Market Hotels
We recommend staying in Winchester for at least one night to get the most out of your visit. Here are the best centrally located apartments and hotels near Winchester Christmas Market.
- Hotel du Vin– just 6 minutes walk from Winchester Cathedral, with a lovely outdoor terrace.
- The Old Vine– this mid range option has an award-winning oak beamed bar and a restaurant.
- The Winchester Hotel and Spa– has an award winning restaurant and a great spa.
- Wykeham Arms– stunning bedrooms in a historic pub with log fires.
If you’re coming by car,Lainston Houseis a great choice. This magnificent Georgian country house is set in 63 acres of parkland and is a30 minute drive to Winchester centre.
Getting to Winchester Christmas Market
It’s easy to get to Winchester – here are some of the best options:
Car– take the M3 or A34 and consider using a Park and Ride car park as it gets very busy in the centre of Winchester.
Train– from London Waterloo to Winchester via South Western Rail.
Private Tour– seeJane Austen’s House Museum And Historic Winchester on a Private Tour From London.
Small Group – take aSmall-Group Day Trip to Stonehenge, Glastonbury, and Winchester from London.
We hope that you’ve found this guide to the Christmas markets in Winchester helpful. It really is a wonderful time of year to visit the city and Winchester Christmas Market is without doubt one of the best UK festive markets.
Final Thoughts: Winchester Christmas Market
Winchester Christmas Market is a great place to find charming gifts and decors. With its festive atmosphere, the market definitely gets you into the holiday spirit.
For more ideas of places to visit in the UK, be sure to check out our other articles.
Read all our UK travel guides here
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