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Free festivities in Winchester

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This beautiful historic city and its surrounding district provides the perfect backdrop for free festivities this Christmas. Explore what’s on below!

🔔 Winchester Christmas Lights Switch On – 16 November

The annual Winchester Christmas Lights Switch On event will take place on Thursday 16 November 2023 on The Broadway outside the Guildhall from 4pm with live entertainment hosted by HEART FM. Enjoy the snow selfies at the Giant Inflatable Snow Globe which will be in The Square on the day from 12 noon to 8pm. You will have the chance to make a voluntary donation to Spare Change for Lasting Change, Winchester BID’s charity scheme which aims to help reduce street begging and rough sleeping in the city.

🔔 Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market – 17 November to 21 December

Taking place from 17 November to 21 December, Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market is renowned for its bustling atmosphere, stunning location, and handpicked high-quality exhibitors, which attracts visitors from around the world each year who come to shop at the pretty wooden chalets, situated within the historic grounds. There are a variety of Christmas Community performances taking place within the market area, so be sure to visit Winchester Cathedral’s website for further details.

Stall holder serving customer at christmas market

🔔 Winchester Cathedral Lantern Parade – 24 November

The annual lantern parade returns to Winchester Cathedral, and this year the theme is Angels. From 5pm, gather at the Cathedral where the Dean of Winchester, Catherine Ogle, will judge all the lanterns and pick her three favourites with a prize for all. Then from 6:30pm, parade through the city with your lanterns and light the way back to the cathedral, where you can come together to celebrate Christmas with music, lanterns, and the Christmas Market.

🔔 Alresford Christmas Lantern Procession – 24 November

To launch the festive season, The Watercress Line are organising a huge lantern procession in Alresford which everyone is welcome to participate in, young and old. It will start in Perins School Car Park at 5:15pm, passing along Jacklyn’s Lane, West Street and Station Road, where it will end at Alresford Station. Where the new Steam Illuminations Train will arrive in grand style.

🔔 The Great Hall Christmas Makers Market – 25 November to 26 November

Enjoy the festive atmosphere of The Great Hall and find unique gifts for your loved ones this Christmas. The Great Hall will be hosting a Christmas Makers Market bringing together local artists and crafts persons alongside independent businesses producing delicious food and drink.

🔔 Stir-Up Sunday at Winchester City Mill – 26 November

In Victorian times, families would gather together in the kitchen of their homes five weeks before Christmas – the last Sunday before Advent – to mix and steam Christmas puddings. This became known as Stir-up Sunday. Winchester City Mill are keeping the tradition alive and holding Stir-up Sunday for you to come and make a wish and stir the Christmas Pudding! This event is free, included in admission.

🔔 Christmas Storytelling Sessions at Winchester City Mill – 1 December to 9 December

Join Winchester City Mill for their Christmas Storytelling Sessions throughout the day on 1 and 2 December, and 8 and 9 December. Grab a festive brew from the café and get cosy for a little literary magic. These sessions are volunteer led and are subject to availability of their volunteer story-telling elves. This event is free, included in admission.

Candles and yuletide ferns

🔔 Wolf and Bear Story and Art Event at P&G Wells – 2 December

Join author and illustrator Kate Rolfe, winner of the V&A Student Illustrator of the Year Award 2022, at P&G Wells to take part in a drawing activity and to listen to the story of best friends Wolf and Bear. Wolf and Bear is a beautiful picture book which gently explores the topic of depression with kindness, empathy and hope. The Wolf and Bear Story and Art Event is taking place from 2pm, and booking is encouraged but not required online at P&G Wells.

🔔 Festive Makers Market at The Arc – 9 December

Take an opportunity to support local and handmade at The Arc Festive Makers Market 2023! At The Arc you’ll find wares from talented makers, artisans, drinks and snacks, all in time for the final Christmas shopping spree. Entry to the market is free, and festive treats will be available from the café during your visit.

🔔 The Alternative Christmas Makers Market at The Nutshell – 9 December to 10 December

Visit The Nutshell for a celebration of independent designers and makers from Winchester and the surrounding areas. The Alternative Christmas Makers Market will feature talented independent crafters, who will be on hand to discuss their creative process, tools and techniques as well as selling their finest products. This two-day event will run from Saturday 9 December and Sunday 10 December from 10am until 4pm. Visitors will be invited to join vendors for a social drink, enjoy live music from Hannah Castleman and ENCORE Youth Theatre and browse the stalls.

🔔 Cosmic Christmas at Winchester Science Centre – 16 December to 23 December

Christmas cheer has taken over the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium and Santa’s North Pole has come to Winchester. Young and old will be transported to an intergalactic wonderland as Christmas comes to life through an immersive theatrical experience like no other. Cosmic Christmas includes live science, magical effects and an out-of-this-world journey through space on the Planetarium dome. Then let your anticipation build as you meet the man himself and receive a special Christmas gift. This event is free, included in admission.

🔔 Glimmering Gardens at Chawton House – 16 December to 1 January

As the sun sets, wrap up warm and enjoy the Chawton House after dark with their Glimmering Gardens Christmas lights trail. After you have enjoyed the beautiful decorations in the House, explore the Gardens as they come to life in twinkling lights and spot the woodland creatures that call Chawton House home. Discover the Elizabeth Blackwell herb garden in the Walled Garden and don’t forget to stop for a moment on the South Lawn and enjoy undisturbed views of the night sky and the shining stars. This event is free, included in admission.

🔔 Winchester Cathedral Carol Services – 19 December and 21 December

Experience the grandeur of this spectacular traditional Carol Services sung by the Choir of Winchester Cathedral in the nave. As there is no booking required, a queue will form outside of the cathedral prior to doors open at 5.00pm so be sure to arrive early.

🔔 Unique shopping and dining

Winchester BID has created a Winchester Independents Festive Map, which can be picked up at various locations across the city. It features great places to buy unique 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.

For the latest news of Winchester’s Christmas events across the district go to


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