Winchester Christmas Market – 10 Essential Tips (from a Local!)

Winchester Christmas Market Exhibitors

Planning a trip to Winchester Christmas Market this year? Here’s everything you need to know, including how to plan your trip, where to stay in Winchester and what to get – it’s the ultimate Winchester Christmas Market guide.

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Winchester Christmas Market is widely considered one of the best Christmas markets in the UK– and for good reason. It’s lively, large and has some incredible exhibitors from all over the world.

Winchester Christmas Market is associated with Winchester Cathedral – the market is literally set in the heart of the city in the Cathedral grounds, which creates one of the best backdrops for a Christmas Market ANYWHERE. Seriously, the setting is absolutely magical.

Winchester may not be one of the biggest Christmas markets in Europe (like these ones!) but it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the UK from November to December – see dates here.

An up close view of the stalls at the Winchester Christmas Market
Winchester Christmas Market

Why visit Winchester Christmas Market?

Winchester Christmas Market is located in the historic grounds of Winchester Cathedral. It’s beautifully decorated, has a great atmosphere with lots of delicious places to eat, drink and over 100 pretty wooden chalets selling all manner of beautiful goods from hand-picked, high quality exhibitors.

The bustling atmosphere is often enhanced by the sound of Christmas carols from the Cathedral next door, and there’s often an aroma of cinnamon and warming chestnuts to complete the festive setting.

In previous years there was a fantastic ice rink, although this is being replaced for 2023 by a performing stage, a nativity scene, festive lighting, traditional german christmas markets and the rest of Winchester to explore, which is one of the best UK cities to visit in December. I was lucky enough to go to college in Winchester and it really is a beautiful city, with some fantastic shops, bars, restaurants and history! 

It’s also one of the best Christmas markets for families– there’s loads to do for kids (including the open-air ice rink), but nearby you have plenty of other fun Christmas activities for kids, such as Marwell Zoo, Santa steam train and more!

Don’t forget to pop into Winchester Cathedral and see Jane Austen’s grave and the Winchester Bible- even if you’re not religious, this is INCREDIBLE to see. It dates from the 12th century and the gilding on the letters is just as bright as it was 800 years ago!

Don’t miss the Star of Wonder illuminations and light show within Winchester Cathedral- often held the last full week before Christmas (check times of services before you plan your trip.)

Winchester Christmas Market exhibitors

The exhibitors vary yearly, but you can find all the usual Christmas market products that you’ll find at all of the best Christmas markets in England, things like candles, carved wooden ornaments, Christmas decorations, personalised handmade gifts and Christmas wreaths. You will also find more unique presents, like glassware, jewellery, rugs, blankets, scarves and photos. 

There’s a lovely focus on ‘Best of British’, with many exhibitors showcasing UK goods, foods and a large British crafts village. 

Here’s a list of traders at the Winchester Christmas Market this year.

A man making wine at the Winchester Christmas market.
Winchester Christmas Market Exhibitors

How much does Winchester Cathedral’s Christmas Market cost?

Nothing. It’s free to enter Winchester Christmas market. You do need to pay for the ice rink though (booking in advance is recommended.

What dates is the Winchester Christmas Market on this year?

You can see the exact dates and opening times for the Winchester Christmas Market here. It’s open every day of the week, including Fridays and Sunday mornings when services are on in the Cathedral.

When is the best time to visit?

If possible, visit Winchester market on a weekday in the morning if you want to shop. These are by far the quietest times with fewer visitors and you will actually be able to see things, browse and reduce queuing.

If you have to visit on a weekend, go in the morning. Again, it’s noticeably quieter before lunch. Many, MANY tours from all over the world visit Winchester market, so the earlier you can get there, the better. If it gets very busy, they may have timed entry or restrict numbers, so try to avoid peak times if possible.

If you want to enjoy the atmosphere, meet friends for drinks and feel festive, the evening on a Thursday- Saturday is a great time to visit. Just don’t expect much seating while you drink and use our expert tips to enjoy one of the best Christmas markets in Europe.

Winchester Christmas Market directions – how to find it!

Head to Winchester Cathedral. You’ll find the entrance (and probably queue!) near the main Cathedral doors. You don’t go inside the Cathedral, but down the path next to it. Don’t worry if you’re confused- it’s well signposted and there are lots of people around to help direct you. 

A festive holiday wreath made with pine cones and gourds.
Festive holudayWinchester Christmas Market Wreath

Where to park in Winchester

You can’t park right next to the Christmas Market, even if you’re a less-abled visitor. You’ll need to park in one of the city car parks, which are at least a 5-minute walk away. 

Alternatively, use one of the city Park and Ride buses- they can drop you off within a 2/3 minute walk. All are cleared sign-posted from whichever direction you’re travelling from and all are roughly the same. Just stop at the first one you come to, take note of which one you’re in, and ask the driver where the collection point to return is. Also, check what time the last bus back is!!

And yes, they have space for motorhomes and campervans and dogs are allowed on the bus.

Where to stay in Winchester

One option is to plan a UK road trip and either hire a campervan. There are plenty of great places to visit around Hampshire- you could turn it into a road trip. Alternatively, treat yourself to a night in a lovely Winchester hotel and have a mini-break. Winchester is easily accessible from London by both train or road.

We highly recommend the Winchester Hotel & Spa– the staff are friendly, rooms are lovely and it’s easy to access the city centre, but there are plenty of other options which might suit your budget better.

Are dogs allowed?

Surprisingly, yes, dogs are allowed in Winchester Market- although honestly, I’d be reluctant to bring mine. It is busy, noisy and crowded. Plenty of people do bring their dogs, but I don’t think my over-excited Spaniel would enjoy it too much! Dogs must be kept on a lead and under control at all times. 

Is there wheelchair access?

Yes. Ish. There are ramps, and the Cathedral does try to make all areas accessible to everyone, but it is an old, historic area, with cobbles and uneven paving and everything which goes with that! Also, it can be hard to see the ramps in the crowds. 

Are there toilets?

There are no toilet facilities inside the Christmas market. There are toilets (male, female, disabled and baby changing) just outside, but you’d need to leave the market and re-enter (and possibly re-queue!)

What to buy at Winchester Christmas Market

Whatever you like! There’s always plenty of choice. Personally, I always buy a Christmas wreath whenever I visit- it’s become a bit of a tradition. I also bought two of my favourite things from Winchester Christmas Market; a beautiful photo from a talented local photographer and my Christmas blanket, which I love so much it stays out all year so I can snuggle in it! 

Vendors selling Christmas wares at the Winchester Christmas market.
Winchester Christmas Market stalls

Is Winchester Christmas Market expensive?

Not to visit, no- it’s free! But, like many of the best Christmas markets in Europe, buying goods or food can be expensive. Winchester is a (very) affluent area and the local population have plenty of spare money to burn. Winchester is also a huge tourist area, with thousands visiting the Christmas market each year. 

Therefore, products are priced accordingly. So if you’re not lucky enough to have plenty of cash for fun (we don’t!) then might I suggest you go for the experience and atmosphere and save your shopping money for elsewhere. 

Winchester Christmas Market Review

All in all, Winchester is one of my favourite Christmas Markets in the UK. I LOVE the backdrop of the famous Cathedral (you can also pop into the Cathedral’s visitor’s centre), the beautiful setting, the atmosphere, the stalls- all of it. Visiting is one of our Christmas traditions (when we’re in the UK!) and why we consider it one of the best Christmas markets in the UK.

I hope you enjoy it too. Let me know what you thought below.

Looking for UK Christmas Market ideas? Winchester Christmas Market is one of the most unique Christmas markets in Europe! Set in the grounds of Winchester Cathedral, England, it's a beautiful place for Christmas shopping and festive atmosphere. There's also mulled wine and food!

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