Christmas in Winchester: Markets, Shopping and Shows

Christmas in Winchester: Markets, Shopping and Shows

Winchester is dubbed ‘England’s Christmas Capital’, and for a great reason. In mid-November, the ancient city shines brightly with colourful lights and comes to life with fun activities throughout the festive period right into the New Year. Gather the whole family for this season’s can’t-miss events.

Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market and Ice Rink

Wonderful gifts, decorations and festive foods make this Christmas market one of the best in Europe. Visitors can expect a bustling atmosphere and high-quality exhibitors in abundance. A giant Christmas tree will also take centre stage on the cathedral’s ice rink to fill skaters of all ages with festive cheer.

Christmas Market Opening Times: Sunday to Wednesday, 10:30 am – 6:30 pm Thursday to Saturday, 10:30 am – 8 pm

Ice Rink Opening Times: 10 am – 9 pm daily (last entry at 8 pm). One-hour skate sessions, including time for fitting your skates. 

Parent & Toddler only sessions available Monday ­– Friday until 20 Dec.

Ice Rink Prices: Adult – £11, Child (aged 4 to 7) – £6.95, Parent & Toddler – £11, Concession – £10, Child (aged 8 to 16) – £8.95, Family – £37.50

Parent & Toddler Season Ticket – £79.50, Off-Peak Season Ticket – £89.50

Christmas Rooftop Tours

Experience the best views over Winchester, the Cathedral Christmas Market and the ice rink from high atop Cathedral Tower, followed by tea, coffee, mulled wine and mince pies.

Prices: Cathedral Tower Tour – £15/ Twilight Tower Tour – £20

Details available from the Cathedral Box Office.

Christmas at Marwell Zoo

“Christmas at Marwell” is a magical experience for all the family.  Enjoy tasty refreshments with the elves, join Mother Christmas for Neverland stories, and make your own Christmas present bag before receiving a special gift from Father Christmas. Then capture the perfect family photo as a lasting memory of the day.

While you’re there, don’t forget to wish season’s greetings to all the animals, from ring-tailed lemurs to pygmy hippos and more.

When? 18, 19 Nov (10:30 am – 3:30 pm); 24, 25 Nov (10:30 am – 5:45 pm); 30 Nov (3:30 pm – 6:30 pm); 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 Dec (weekdays, 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm);

1, 2, 8, 9, 14 – 24 Dec (10:30 am – 5:45 pm)

Prices: Adult – £25.50, Child – £28.50, Toddler – £15.50, Babies – £7.50

Winchester Discovery Centre: Footprints in the Snow

Inspired by the mystical tales of Scandinavian folk stories, Wind Song Theatre presents a brand new treat for children and their families. Discover the delightful tale of little Maya as she travels into the wilderness in search of her little sister’s only Christmas wish: a blanket of fresh white snow.

Recommended for children aged 3+, but adults and older kids will love the performance too.

Prices: £8 each or 4 for £28

When? 15 Dec – 24 Dec 2018

Sat 15 Dec – 11 am, 2 pm; Sun 16 Dec – 11 am, 2 pm; Mon 17 Dec – no shows;

Tue 18 Dec – 11 am (Relaxed Show); Wed 19 Dec – 11 am (Relaxed Show)

Thu 20 Dec – 11 am, 2 pm or 4:30 pm (TBC); Fri 21 Dec – 11 am, 2 pm or 4:30 pm (TBC); Sat 22 Dec – 11 am, 2 pm, 4:30 pm; Sun 23 Dec – 11:30 am, 2 pm, 4:30pm; Mon 24 Dec – 11 am

Meet Father Christmas at the Great Hall

Leading up to the big day in the historic Great Hall, little ones can meet Santa, receive a festive gift, and take part in themed craft activities. A pop-up café will serve delicious drinks, including hot chocolate, along with a selection of yummy treats.

Prices: £10 per child. Pre-booking is essential.

When? 21 – 23 Dec 2018

Theatre Royal’s Christmas Classics, Shows & Pantomimes

Celebrate the delights of Christmas with a full line-up of drama, music, dance, comedy, children’s theatre, and pantomime – right in the city’s cultural heart.

This year’s schedule is jam-packed with holiday spirit:

  • Beauty and the Beast – A Traditional Family Pantomime
  • A Victorian Christmas with Robert Powell and Susan Jameson
  • Christmas Classics with Blake
  • The Scummy Mummies Christmas Show
  • Santa’s Christmas Party
  • The Spitfire Sisters’ Christmas Special

Visit Theatre Royal Winchester for details, show times and prices.

Where to Stay

Mercure Winchester Wessex Hotel is set mere steps from the glorious cathedral – ideal for visiting local attractions and exploring the beautiful Hampshire countryside.

What’s more, the hotel is open 24/7, welcomes pets, and provides connecting rooms for families with young children. There is also a restaurant and bar within the hotel – everything needed for a cosy, care-free stay.

Wonderful Independent Shops Next Door

Beyond the obvious eating and drinking around Christmas, Winchester has lovely independents shops to help you find the perfect presents, from fashion and jewellery, home and lifestyle, to toys, games and gifts.

Find out more: What’s on in Winchester this Christmas

About Discover Winchester

A city steeped in history, Winchester is England's ancient capital and former seat of King Alfred the Great.

Today Winchester combines the best of city life with the freshness of the surrounding countryside. One hour from London, this is England as it used to be.

With world class attractions and architecture including a magnificent Cathedral, award-winning pubs and restaurants and a tempting array of independent shops. This culturally rich medieval city is surrounded by idyllic Hampshire villages and the fabulous rolling countryside of the South Downs National Park.

Discover Winchester
Tourist Information Centre
Winchester Guildhall
High Street
SO23 9GH