Yes, today the festive season really begins in Winchester, as the magical Christmas Market and ice-rink open in the grounds of the stunning Cathedral for the 10th year running!
And yes, we know it’s only November, but even the most cynical shopper would find it hard to resist the magical spirit that exudes from this market in particular. Pulling in visitors from all corners of Britain, what makes Winchester such a success, year after year?
Is it the backdrop of the striking cathedral? The twinkly lights illuminating chocolate-box, German-inspired market stalls? The excitement of the skaters whizzing around, whilst shoppers watch on, enjoying mulled wine and freshly made waffles?
Well, of course, it is all of this combined – but there seems to be an extra dash of sparkle here and we’ve finally put our finger on it; it’s that overwhelming sense of community – that Hampshire folk do so well – which spreads infectiously amongst the crowds. The atmosphere is alive with chatter, laughter and friendly exchanges, and there is so much to see and experience, all ages are kept happy.
If you’re looking for a gift that’s a bit quirky and different, you’re bound to find something from the high quality exhibitors here. From leather handbags to sparkly fairy wings, decorative candles to French cheese, handmade pottery and jewellery to spectacular gingerbread houses – there’s plenty of choice this year. And if that’s not enough, the eclectic shops of the Square and Parchment Street are only round the corner.
If you’d like to try a spot of skating, you need to book a time slot in advance – they do get booked up, so it’s worth getting yourself organised early.
The Christmas Festival in neighbouring Southampton is also open this week – from 12 November - 23 December 2016. Likewise, this market does a great job of getting shoppers into the festive spirit, with a wide variety of Christmas gift stalls, sizzling sausages and even a flying Santa who makes an appearance every day! Plus you have the benefits of the well-stocked WestQuay shopping centre just next door.