Winchester Christmas Market is widely considered one of the best Christmas markets in England– 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 Cathedral grounds, which creates one of the best backdrops for a Christmas Market ANYWHERE.
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 in December.
Why visit Winchester Christmas Market?
Winchester Christmas Market is located right next to Winchester Cathedral. It's beautifully decorated, has a great atmosphere with lots of delicious places to eat, drink and over 100 wooden chalets selling all manner of beautiful goods.
In 2019, Winchester Christmas Market was voted The BEST Christmas market in the UK by booking.com and voted in the top 15 Christmas Markets in Europe by the New York Post.
There's also an ice rink (you need to buy tickets in advance!), a nativity scene 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!
Winchester Christmas Market exhibitors
The exhibitors vary yearly, but you can find all the usual Christmas market products like candles, carved wooden ornaments, 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 crafts.
Here's a complete list of exhibitors at the Winchester Christmas Market this year (may not be available until November)
Winchester Christmas Market dates 2020
Thursday 19th November- Tuesday 22nd December 2020
How much does Winchester Christmas Market cost?
Nothing. It's free to enter Winchester Christmas market.
Opening times for Winchester Christmas Market
10am- 6.30pm Sunday- Wednesday
10am-8pm Thursday- Saturday
When is the best time to visit?
If possible, visit Winchester market on a weekday in the morning if you want to shop. Those are by far the quietest times and you will actually be able to see things, browse and time your time.
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 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!!
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.
Where to park for Winchester Christmas Market
You can't park right next to Winchester 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!!
Where to stay in Winchester
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 at Winchester Christmas Market?
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 at Winchester Christmas Market?
Not inside the market, no. There are toilets (male, female, disabled and baby changing) just outside, but you'd need to leave the market and re-enter (and re-queue!)
What to buy at Winchester Christmas Market
Whatever you like! 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!
Is Winchester Christmas Market expensive?
Not to visit, no- it's free! But, like many Christmas Markets around 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 Cathedral, the beautiful setting, the atmosphere, the stalls- all of it. Visiting is one of our Christmas traditions (when we're in the UK!)
I hope you enjoy it too. Let me know what you thought below.