Christmas is just around the corner, and ‘England’s Christmas Capital’ of Winchester is brimming with a huge variety of festive events. While seeing the brightly decorated city is more than enough to get in the spirit, there are many can’t-miss celebrations for the all the family to enjoy.Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market & Ice Rink
A bustling atmosphere, high-quality exhibitors and festive foods make the Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market one of the best in Europe. Last year, the Christmas Market attracted more than 400,000 visitors and filled them with holiday cheer.
This year, you’ll find wonderful decorations, gifts and goodies, plus over 100 chalets selling festive favourites, such as mulled wine, bratwurst, mince pies and stollen. The wooden chalets surround one of the UK’s top 10 open-air ice rinks, and the Cathedral is lit up after twilight to provide the perfect winter playground for children and adults alike.
Christmas Market Opening Times
Saturday 17 November – Thursday 20 December
Sunday to Wednesday, 10:30 am – 6:30 pm
Thursday to Saturday, 10:30 am – 8:00 pm
Ice Rink Opening Times
Saturday 17 November – Wednesday 2 January
10:00 am – 9:00 pm daily (last entry at 8 pm).
Sessions last one hour, including time to fit skates.
Parent & Toddler only sessions available Monday – Friday until 20 December.
Winchester Cathedral Events
As well as the Christmas market and ice rink, Winchester Cathedral will host a series of Christmas events.
Thursday 29 November: Christmas Lantern Parade
Make your own lantern with Bella Crafts and join a fun family parade starting from the Cathedral and processing around the Outer Close.
Saturday 8 December: Waynflete Singers – A Christmas Fanfare
An exciting programme of choral and brass music, courtesy of Onyx Brass, described as “easily the classiest brass ensemble in Britain” by BBC Music Magazine.
Friday 14 December: Cathedral Carol Concert
Entitled Star Shine: an evening with the stars, this event promises music, laughter and delight as boys, girls, lay clerks and the bright stars of the Cathedral Choir sing Christmas music.
Throughout the concert, contemporary Christmas-themed readings and reflections will complement traditional performances and light-hearted carols. A highlight of the evening will be a premiere of ‘Queen Elizabeth’s Winchester Carol’, composed by Roderick Williams and commissioned by the Friends of Winchester Cathedral.
Saturday 15 December: The Snowman Tour 2018
Watch two enchanting films, The Snowman and The Bear and the Piano, accompanied by a live orchestra. Other rollicking treats during the concert, including a fun introduction to the orchestra, make this the ideal winter outing for the whole family.
Tuesday 18, Wednesday 19, Friday 21 December: Christmas Carol Service
A wonderful service filled with beautiful music sung by the Cathedral Choir.
Friday 21 December: Christmas Story-Telling
On the first day of winter, join the Cathedral for a festive craft activity and hear the story of the first Christmas.
Theatre Royal’s Christmas Cultural Gift
The city’s best theatre brings an impressive line-up of drama, music, comedy, children’s theatre and pantomime to the cultural heart of the city.
The next two months are packed with celebratory Christmas spirit:
Saturday 1 December – Sunday 6 January: Beauty and the Beast – A Traditional Family Pantomime
Sunday 9 December: A Victorian Christmas with Robert Powell and Susan Jameson
Tuesday 11 December: Christmas Classics with Blake
Thursday 13 December: The Scummy Mummies Christmas Show
Monday 17 December: Santa’s Christmas Party
Thursday 20 December: The Spitfire Sisters’ Christmas Special
Visit Theatre Royal Winchester for details, show times and prices.
Christmas at Marwell Zoo
Make your family’s Christmas magical and join the elves in the enchanted world of Marwell. Be charmed by Mother Christmas in Pirate Cove and listen to Neverland stories inspired by Peter Pan.
Kids can create their own present bag in the elves workshop, meet Father Christmas and receive a special gift before posing for a family photo.
The experience will last around 60-80 minutes and includes zoo entry.
Winchester Science Centre Christmas Experience
Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium is the South of England’s interactive science and technology centre with the UK’s largest standalone planetarium. The Science Centre’s programme of events this festive season combines the magic of Christmas with the excitement of science, promising a fun-filled family day out.
Santa and the Elves Christmas Experience: Treat the family to the ultimate Christmas experience including a magical live science show inspired by classic children’s tale Jack and the Beanstalk, an elf-led activity, Christmas planetarium show and chance to meet Santa.
Storytime with Santa: Brand new for this year, a fun and relaxed experience designed especially for toddlers and pre-schoolers. Enjoy a Christmas story told by Santa himself, an exciting live science demonstration from Magnificent, Santa’s Chief Elf, and a charming ‘Little Stars’ sensory planetarium show.
Reindeer Round-up in Space: A fun presenter-led planetarium show taking the audience on a journey through the Solar System in search of Rudolph and his fellow furry friends to help save Christmas.
Christmas Cinema: Watch your favourite festive film in the unique setting of the planetarium. The programme includes Elf, The Polar Express, Arthur Christmas and The Muppet Christmas Carol.
Visit the Winchester Science Centre website for event details, times and prices.
Festive Fun on the Watercress Line
The Mid-Hants Railway Watercress Line offers a 10-mile train journey all year round, but for Christmas, there are two special events not to be missed!
Santa Special: Travel on a magical train carriage where Santa and his jolly helpers visit you in your seat with a gift. Grown-ups get treated to white wine and mince pies, whilst children enjoy a soft drink and a gingerbread man.
Christmas Leave: Post-Christmas, the Watercress line invites you to experience the atmosphere of a WWII Christmas on the railway with civilian and military re-enactors
Christmas at Guildhall Winchester
Head to Winchester’s striking Victorian building, located in the city centre, for an exciting programme of live entertainment.
Saturday 15 December: Winchester Gin & Prosecco Festival
Friday 21 December: The Caribbean Christmas Party
Father Christmas at the Great Hall
Meet Father Christmas at The Great Hall from 21 – 23 December. There will be a pop-up café serving refreshments and a Christmas craft activity table for families. Time slots are divided into morning and afternoon sessions: 10:00 am – 12:30 pm, 2:00 – 4:45 pm.
Tickets can be booked online. The ticket price is £12.50 per child. Each child will get to meet Father Christmas and receive a special gift. The first 2 children in a party are £12.50 with additional children at £10.00.
Charity Christmas Card Shop
Browse a huge selection of charity Christmas cards in the tourist information centre. You can also buy everything from stamps, souvenirs, local produce and sparkling wine through to stocking fillers and great books for the kids.
Find out more: What’s on in Winchester this Christmas