2024 is nearly upon us, and with that comes talk of dreaded New Year’s Resolutions. This year, Visit Winchester are saying farewell to resolutions and hello to the 2024 Winchester Wishlist, packed full of wonderful walks, sensational shows, and everything you could wish for to start your new year in true Winchester fashion!
Winchester is lucky enough to be nestled into some of the most beautiful countryside the South has to offer. If you fancy a stroll around the city’s green spaces, download our Tree Trail Map, where you can learn about over 20 species of trees dotted across the city. For those looking to avoid steep hills and hard-to-access nooks, Winchester’s Accessible Trail Map is the perfect way to explore with confidence. Further afield, The Itchen Navigation Heritage Trail will guide you along the winding waterways of the district and beyond, while King Alfred’s Way cycle route will take the seasoned cyclist through the heart of Hampshire and historic Wessex.
Winchester also has some glorious gardens to see. Visit Gilbert White’s House and Gardens for the cottage, herb and kitchen gardens, as well as sweeping lawns and a wildflower meadow. Throughout 2024, a series of ‘Gilbert’s Garden’ tours will show you some of its hidden gems. The grounds at Chawton House have also been restored to their 18th century beauty. Be sure to explore the Walled Garden, built by Edward Austen, and the Elizabeth Blackwell Herb Garden while you are there.
From the outdoors to dinosaurs, Winchester Science Centre is the perfect place to brush up on your pre-history. Kick off your 2024 with The Dino Show, where the dino rangers will take on the mammoth job of finding out how similar we are to dinosaurs in sessions that come free with admission! For the budding astronomers, Night Sky Live is the chance to learn the skills you’ll need to identify the stars above the South Downs National Park.
For more family fun, head to 878 AD, the award-winning immersive Anglo-Saxon experience. After discovering the stories and artefacts of King Alfred’s Winchester, use the 878 AD: Winchester Revealed app to explore the city. While here, Winchester City Museum and Westgate Museum can complete your historic journey through Winchester’s past. With the ‘Winchester Trio Ticket’ you pay once for a whole year of visits to all three museums!
I wish… I could indulge in a delicious meal.
Whatever you’re craving, Winchester has a delicious place to grab a bite to eat! For a pre-theatre dinner or a romantic meal, Rick Stein Winchester offers a hint of Cornish heritage in the heart of Hampshire. For authentic Japanese cuisine, including a renowned sushi and sashimi selection, Kyoto Kitchen is the perfect place to enjoy a weekday lunch or a more leisurely dinner. To experience a quintessential country pub in the heart of the city, The Wykeham Arms is the place for you. With roaring fires and award-winning dining, you can tuck a slice of Winchester’s history in this 17th century gem.
I wish… I could get creative.
If you are interested in getting crafty, The Arc has plenty of workshops to get the creative juices flowing in 2024. In The Arc’s 10-week art class, you’ll have the freedom to explore, experiment and learn new artistic skills in a supportive and inspiring environment. They are also offering workshops to learn plant pot painting, stitching, rug tufting and more, each led by expert artists!
Why not get inspired at Bell Fine Art, one of Winchester’s finest independent galleries? Across two floors, explore original contemporary and period paintings by artists from the UK, Europe and further afield, together with prints, limited editions and local views. All art is available for purchase, so you can bring a piece of Winchester home with you after your visit.
The Theatre Royal Winchester is a one-stop-shop for all kinds of performances, and the 2024 programme does not disappoint. For the National Theatre lovers, watch a screening of James Graham’s play examining the connection between football and nationhood, Dear England, or see Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan take centre-stage in Skylight. To tickle your funny bone, check out the UK’s top comedy magician in Pete Firman: TrikTok or the 2023 Britain’s Got Talent winner in Viggo Venn: British Comedian. Musical connoisseurs can enjoy tunes from jive to rock and roll with lively band, The Jive Aces, and the musical journey through the career of Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, Oh What a Night! Family fun is never lacking at the Theatre Royal, and with Hat Fair Cabaret, every generation can enjoy an indoor extravaganza of mayhem and laughter.
Winchester is a book-lover’s dream, with its fascinating connections with the likes of Jane Austen and John Keats, as well as a wealth of contemporary authors calling the city their home. Step back in time and experience a book shop as Jane Austen would have at P&G Wells. This 18th century booksellers and stationers is the perfect place to find your next read. After, you can pop by the Deanery Bookshop, nestled in Winchester Cathedral’s inner close, for a treasure-trove of pre-loved books. Be sure to say hello to the resident pug, Bustle, while you’re there!
Once you have had your fix of reading, why not visit the homes that inspired much of Jane Austen’s work? Jane Austen’s House in Chawton is artfully restored and filled with relics from the author’s life. Chawton House, which was owned by her brother, is also just a stone’s throw away and boasts magnificent gardens and a library bound to inspire all burgeoning readers.
In 2024 we should all be thinking greener. Luckily Winchester has plenty of sustainable and bcorp-certified businesses to choose from. Aspiga is a boutique where every decision is geared towards minimising their impact on the planet. From plastic-free packaging to ethically sourced fabrics, this shop is determined to offset carbon emissions with every purchase. Earthian Zero Waste Shop is the go-to location for a sustainable food shop. They are officially Carbon Neutral and are currently working towards Zero Waste To Landfill accreditation through their sustainable business practices.
For a sustainable day out, be sure to visit conservation award-winning Marwell Zoo. Their team of conservation experts and partners are working to help restore nature and promote sustainable living. Recently, they celebrated having helped brought the scimitar-horned oryx back from the brink of extinction, as well as the birth of a Critically Endangered African wild ass in the Zoo.
After the hustle and bustle of Christmas, there is nothing quite like a few nights away from home. So, whether you are looking for a unique city break or a breathtaking stay in the Hampshire countryside, Winchester has something for you. Step into the 16th century Winchester Royal Hotel for a luxurious stay in the heart of the city. Or enjoy the modern and relaxing Mercure Wessex for a view of the stunning Winchester Cathedral. If you prefer the cozy and eclectic, a room above The Wykeham Arms is the perfect bolthole for your city stay.
If you would like a stay in the South Downs National Park, while benefitting from a fantastic route into the city, visit the Holiday Inn. Just pop on the 64 bus from outside the hotel for a 10-minute journey into Winchester. For a complete countryside retreat, book a cottage or glamping at Wallops Wood. Perfect for a getaway for the whole family (including furry friends!) Wallops Wood offers pool facilities, private hot tubs and a stunning view across the Meon Valley. It is a home away from home!
Find more events, places to stay and places to eat around Winchester in 2024.