This Christmas, shop local for festive gifts and support the district’s brilliant independent businesses, artists and makers (many appearing at this season’s markets). Read on for destination tips and stacks of gift ideas.
A Winchester Christmas wouldn’t be a Winchester Christmas without a visit to Winchester Cathedral’s famous Christmas Market – recognised as one of the best in Europe. Running until 22 December, peruse the wooden chalets and pick up some gorgeous and unique presents, or stop for a catch up with family and friends over a delicious mulled wine.
Head to one of the district’s beautiful market towns to see what they have in store market-wise. Head to Wickham on 5 December for their fair with free entertainment. Don’t miss Father Christmas as he will be making a special appearance in Alresford on 8 December at a festive event with carols and late night shopping until 8.30pm.
Look out for Hampshire Farmers’ Markets, where you’ll find delicious local and seasonal produce, to make your festive meals extra special this year. Meon Valley Christmas Trees also attend the markets – if you’re still looking for your a real Christmas tree.
Alternatively, if you fancy journeying a little further afield, from 10 – 12 December, Beaulieu – home to the National Motor Museum – holds The Artisan Collective Christmas Fair, where there will be independent makers and producers, gourmet street food and live music. Plus, a ticket to the fair gives you admission to the Beaulieu attraction too. Bonus!
Gilbert White’s House in Selbourne is holding a Christmas Market on 4 December, inviting visitors to enjoy games and raffles, festive entertainment, food, mulled wine and a spot of Christmas shopping.
If you’re in Winchester city centre, Winchester Visitor Information Centre – on the ground floor of the Guildhall – is a great place to buy local, with Christmas cards from Winchester artist Josephine Chisholm and cards and decorations from freelance illustrator Jonathan Chapman.
If candles are a loved one’s thing, find advent and angel design wax candles from Mrs B’s Bees in store too, or visit the family business’ website for other festive themed treats. Plus, browse the centre for scented candles and wax melts from Hampshire Candles. Their website also lists an array of products that will fill your home with the rich seasonal aromas of mulled wine, fir trees and gingerbread – or whiffs of Santa’s socks!
Looking for food and drink treats? The information centre stocks the very popular and delicious Fordingbridge Fudge, which also comes in eco-friendly compostable bags! Try sea salted caramel or Bailey’s flavours. Or head online to read about Remarkable Drinks‘ engraving service (their drinks are sold in store) – they will personalise a bottle of their flavoured gin, rum or vodka for a loved one. Plus, don’t forget man’s best friend – the centre stocks dog treats from Dudley and Sage.
It also sells a range of gift packages available through ShopAppy, which contain an assortment of locally brewed beers and spirits; delicious honey, fudge, and rich preserves; and luxurious pamper products. Go online to find the package that works for you. Individual items can be found in store.
For a really special gift, consider getting an original artwork or print, favourite vinyl record, or beloved family portrait framed for posterity by Bell Fine Art’s picture framing service (in Bell Fine Art on Parchment Street). Or buy a colourful animal-themed ink illustration or festive card from artist Anna Wright, who works out of her studio in Winchester.
Pop in to family-run Cornflowers Gift Shop, in Kingsgate Village, for everything from fashion accessories to plants, soft toys, even a range of Winchester College memorabilia. Or Pavia-Lee, on Parchment Street – whose owner could never find the right thing to give as a gift – selling perfect presents for the home and loved ones, like candles, figurines, soaps, mirrors and jewellery etc.
Gifts you can eat and drink always raise a smile – and Char Teas, at the bottom of the High Street, stocks over 150 high quality loose leaf teas that their experts have discovered and imported from around the world. Big kids (young and old) will love a selection of old-fashioned and modern sweets from Old Fashioned Sweetie Shop, at the top of the High Street – which stocks boiled sweets, jellies, fudge, chocolate, even gluten free, sugar free and vegan treats. Alternatively, The Sweet Treat Company (near the train station) sells pick n mix; they make one and two tier celebration sweetie cakes (made entirely of sweets) and letterbox gift boxes. For a nice bottle of Italian wine and deli gifts, head to Toscanaccio, on Parchment Street. Treat a coffee lover to a gift voucher from Coffee Lab UK, in Little Minster Street.
What better way to get your little’en (and even yourself) excited about the festive season than to read them a Christmas story? P&G Wells Booksellers is the place for classics like Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas, A Christmas Carol or The Night Before Christmas, as well as modern seasonal stories and craft and sticker books. Or check out a very special illustrated children’s book – Santa is Coming to Winchester – by Steve Smallman.
And if you head out to our market towns – or you’re shopping online – Alresford Beauty has a Christmas shop selling festive themed reed diffusers, bath salts and fizzers, candles, liquid soaps, fashion accessories and more. Susie Watson Designs has festive cushions, stockings, tree decorations plus everything you need to dress your dinner table and home ready for Christmas Day. The Alresford Gift Shop is another one-stop shop for quirky decorations and traditional presents like jigsaw puzzles, items of jewellery and ornaments. For delicious artisan bread, cheese, cured meats and preserves to give as gifts or eat yourself, check out family-run Mange2Deli. And for old and new wines from around the world pop into The Naked Grape.
Baytree Gifts in Wickham – which was established 30 years ago – stocks a range of books, games, fashion and wellbeing items, and eco-friendly and vegan products – including a cross body bag and handmade, natural soap. Visit Confiserie Verdonk (aka the Wickham Chocolate Shop) for luxurious Belgian chocolates (and over 100 flavours) and beautifully wrapped chocolate gift boxes. Or for something really special for your baby or little one, check out Sienna’s Baby Boutique – selling pretty shawls, blankets and babygros, bobble hats and accessories, and outfits complete and ready to wear on Christmas Day.
If you’re in Bishop’s Waltham, Tashinga stocks gifts for him, her, baby and the home – including trinket boxes, socks, original art, and mugs. The Toy Box stocks baby’s first and bath toys, traditional toys (think cars, dolls, lego), educational toys (science experiments, nature discovery kits) and joke gifts (whoopee cushions!). Plus, arts and craft items, books, plush toys, puzzles, games and everything to play outdoors. For something a little different, check out The Merchant of Magic – the UK’s largest magic shop. their sales team are Magic Circle members and they sell tricks, books, DVDs and accessories to professional and amateur magicians.
Finally, if your family and friends enjoy visiting a particular attraction or restaurant in the Winchester district, buying a gift voucher or membership for their favourite place would make both a thoughtful present for them and support that destination. Marwell Zoo also gives the option of adopting an animal!
If that wasn’t enough, visit here for even more shopping inspiration from businesses across the district.