There’s always something new going on in Winchester – so whether you are a first time visitor or just couldn’t resist the temptation to come back, here’s our pick of top things to do in 2020.
1. Discover Winchester’s connection to the Mayflower voyage
2020 marks the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing from Plymouth to America. Hampshire has a direct connection to the Mayflower as local boy Stephen Hopkins was one of those pilgrims. Look out for a new leaflet following Hopkins’ story from his baptism at All Saints’ Church in the Test Valley village of Upper Clatford through to his family life in Hursley and Winchester.
2. Find your inner peace and harmony
Looking for a pamper day or spa break? Make plenty of time for the new Ana Spa at Holiday Inn Winchester. Relax in the hydro therapy pool with energising bubble loungers and warm up with a full thermal experience comprising of a Himalayan salt sauna, sensory shower, steam room and foot spa.
3. Prepare for a supersized brick adventure
Marwell Zoo will be home to dozens of new species, as it becomes the first attraction in the world to host a brand new collection of supersized toy brick creatures. SUPERSIZED! An astonishing larger than life brick adventure will feature up to 40 models of curious real-life creatures with an explosion of colour and size landing on the 4 April to 3 September 2020.
With more than two million toy bricks and some of the deadliest and most deceptive creatures in the world, all blown up to enormous proportions, highlights will include a three metre tarantula, a towering two metre spitting cobra and a new UV toy brick experience for the summer holidays.
4. You’re invited to a birthday party!
2020 celebrates the 300th anniversary of the birth of naturalist, Gilbert White. Born on the 18 July, on the same day this year admission will be free of charge to Gilbert White & The Oates Collections. A programme of exhibitions and events celebrating the pioneer who shaped our everyday view of relations between humans and nature will be happening throughout the year.
5. Meet the masons and try some stone carving
The Stone Festival returns to Winchester Cathedral’s historic Inner Close this summer, with an exciting programme of free events and activities celebrating the art of stone masonry.
6. New cafés on the menu
Theatre Royal Winchester’s Café Bar is now serving specialist coffee, artisan teas, cakes and light bites seven days a week. Set in the beautiful surroundings of the only surviving cine-variety theatre in the country, the Café Bar is dog friendly, has plenty of pram and buggy parking, free WiFi and laptop and USB charging points. You may even stumble on the odd pop-up performance…
At the other end of the High Street visitors to Winchester City Mill and National Trust members can now sit and take in over a thousand years of milling history whilst enjoying a bespoke seasonal menu at Benham’s Bakehouse.
7. Ten years of the South Downs National Park
Plans are underway to celebrate the ten year anniversary of the establishment of the South Downs National Park. So hop on your bike or pull on those walking boots and explore the rolling hills and panoramic views on Winchester’s doorstep. Start from the official gateway at Winchester City Mill.
8. 75th anniversary of VE day
The anniversary will be marked in Winchester by a piper and bell ringing at Winchester Cathedral plus a new commemorative event on the Watercress Line over the May Day Bank Holiday – 8 to 10 May.
9. British Museum touring exhibition comes to the city
Spanning almost one hundred years of modern art, the British Museum exhibition Living with art: Picasso to Celmins, showcases highlights from the wide-ranging collection of Alexander Walker (1930–2003), longstanding film critic for the Evening Standard newspaper, bequeathed to the British Museum in 2004. Covering the period from 1908 until 2002, Living with art will include 30 works by prominent artists from Pablo Picasso to Henri Matisse, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. Opening at the British Museum in January 2020, the exhibition starts its UK tour in Winchester at The Gallery, Winchester Discovery Centre from the 4 April – 28 June.
10. New era for Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium
An exciting transformation project will see a new multi-sensory exhibition and experience that will delight visitors and spark curiosity in STEM. The Science Centre will relaunch in July with a re-designed welcome area, café and shop, and the creation of a sensory room, live science demo area and invention studio.