Winchester Christmas Market is known around the world as one of the best Christmas markets in the UK thanks to its historic Medieval location, German-style wooden chalets and high-quality produce.
In this guide, you can find confirmed dates for 2023, opening times and the market specialties.
This popular Christmas event attracts more than 400,000 visitors annually, with many people visiting from around the region of Hampshire and from afield.
You can even visit on a day trip from London by taking the 1-hour 30-minute train journey from Waterloo station. Having said that, I’d recommend staying overnight to experience the Christmas lights and decorations that the city is renowned for.
Winchester Christmas Market 2023
At Winchester’s heart is the Medieval Winchester Cathedral, and this is where you’ll find the city’s Christmas market.
Unique among Christmas markets, the main attraction here lies in its spectacular location – nestled in the shadow of the Winchester Cathedral in the Inner Close.
With over 100 charming chalets brimming with high-quality artisan gifts, you’ll be certain to find something special.
Add to this an all-weather ice rink positioned beside the cathedral, and it’s clear why the market draws in crowds from across the country.
Dates and Location
Winchester Christmas Market dates: 17th November to 21st December 2023.
Location: Winchester Cathedral Inner Close.
Opening times: Sunday to Thursday: 10am to 6pm. Friday and Saturday: 10am to 8pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free. Tickets are only required if you want to visit inside Winchester Cathedral.
Cathedral tickets: Book online before you go.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 17th November 2023 at 6pm.
Ice skating: Yes, at Winchester Cathedral.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: Yes, but not recommended. Dogs are not allowed inside the cathedral.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: Christmas carol concerts, Star of Wonder artistic light show (inside the cathedral). In 2023, stallholders have been selected based on sustainability goals that include fair trade, locally produced and low and zero waste.
Recommended tour: King Arthur and Winchester Cathedral walking tour.
Specialities: Organic and low-emission food, mulled cider, British sausages and Wayfarer’s Dole.
Where to stay: You can’t stay closer to the cathedral than at The Old Vine.
Hotels near Winchester Christmas Market
Winchester Cathedral is located within the historic centre of Winchester, just off the high street. Anywhere in this area, from the Buttercross Monument to the Winchester City Museum, is ideal for visiting the city.
I suggest staying at The Old Vine as it’s directly across from Winchester Cathedral.
Alternatively, my guide to hotels near Winchester Christmas Market lists several well-located hotels for all budgets.
Plan your Christmas holiday with my Christmas markets 2023 UK guide. Discover where to go, things to do and the best ways to experience British food, history and culture.
Location of Winchester Christmas Market
Christmas in Winchester
Christmas Specialties in Winchester
Roast Turkey: In many homes across the UK, the Christmas Day meal centres around a roast turkey. Alongside the bird, you can typically find stuffing, roast potatoes, vegetables, pigs in blankets and cranberry sauce. The final touch often involves gravy.
Nut Roast: A firm favourite for vegetarians, the nut roast is a blend of mixed nuts, breadcrumbs, and vegetables, often including onion, celery and carrots. It’s typically served with the same trimmings as a traditional roast turkey.
Christmas Pudding: Sometimes referred to as “plum pudding,” this dense, rich dessert is traditionally made on “stir-up Sunday,” the last Sunday before Advent. To add moisture, it contains suet, flour, breadcrumbs, sugar, a mix of dried fruit, and treacle or beer. It’s customarily flambéed at the table and served with brandy butter or cream.
Yule Log: Originally a Nordic tradition, the yule log has been embraced in the UK. It’s a roulade dessert made from a chocolate sponge roll layered with cream. The outside is covered with a chocolate ganache to resemble bark, making it look like a miniature log.
Stilton Cheese: Often known as the ‘King of Cheeses’, Stilton is particularly popular around Christmas in England. This blue cheese is crumbly and creamy, and has a distinctive rich, tangy flavour. It’s commonly enjoyed with crackers or incorporated into a variety of festive dishes.
Food at the Christmas Market
Mulled Wine: In Winchester’s Christmas Market, a warm cup of mulled wine is a popular choice to stave off the cold. This traditional drink is made by heating red wine with various spices, orange peel and sugar. It’s served steaming hot and often comes in a decorative mug.
Roasted Chestnuts: As you wander through the market, the comforting aroma of roasting chestnuts is hard to resist. Vendors often sell them in paper cones, and they make a perfect warm snack as you browse the stalls.
Bratwurst: Although originally from Germany, bratwurst has become a Christmas market staple in the UK. These hearty sausages are usually grilled and served in a bun with a range of sauces. It’s simple, filling, and utterly delicious.
Hog Roast Sandwiches: Reflecting the UK’s love for roasted meats, many stalls at Winchester’s Christmas Market sell hot sandwiches filled with slow-roasted pork, crisp crackling, and a dollop of apple sauce. It’s a traditional, savoury treat that is sure to warm you up.
Stollen: This German Christmas bread is also popular at the market. Packed with dried fruit, nuts and often marzipan, it’s dusted with powdered sugar for a festive finish. Some stalls may offer their own unique twists on this classic recipe.
Mince Pies: Mince pies are a British Christmas classic, and you’ll surely find many stalls selling these sweet treats.
Fudge: Homemade fudge is a common sight at the Christmas market in Winchester. You’ll find it in an array of flavours, from classic vanilla or chocolate to more festive tastes like cinnamon or gingerbread.
What to Buy
Handcrafted Jewellery: You’ll notice stalls displaying intricate pieces of handcrafted jewellery. Often made by local artisans, these items range from beautifully simple designs to more elaborate pieces that showcase the jeweller’s skill.
Ceramic Pottery: A number of Christmas stalls sell pottery and ceramics. Ranging from practical items like mugs and bowls to decorative vases and ornaments, each piece is unique, reflecting the style and technique of the individual potter.
Local Artwork: Local artists use the market as a platform to sell their work. You’ll find an eclectic range of styles and subjects, often inspired by Winchester and its surroundings. Whether you’re a fan of watercolours, oils, or printmaking, you’re likely to discover a piece you love.
Christmas Decorations: It wouldn’t be a Christmas market without festive decorations. Among the stalls, you’ll find handmade ornaments in a variety of styles and materials, from traditional wood-carved nativity scenes to glass baubles and intricately woven wreaths.
Gourmet Food Hampers: Many stalls sell pre-packaged food hampers filled with locally sourced or homemade treats. These can include a selection of cheeses, chutneys, biscuits, or sweets. Perfect for gifting, they provide a taste of Winchester’s local produce.
Handmade Soaps and Candles: Beautifully scented and carefully made, the handmade soaps and candles available at Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market are a delight. Often made with natural ingredients and essential oils, these make perfect stocking fillers or a little indulgence for your own home.
Crafted Leather Goods: At the Christmas markets in Winchester, you’ll find stalls selling a variety of crafted leather goods. These products combine traditional craftsmanship with modern style, from elegant wallets and belts to hand-stitched handbags and journals.
Visit Hampshire is the best resource for discovering Winchester and the region. You’ll find information on events and the best ways to experience Winchester at Christmas.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Winchester is home to one of the most sustainable Christmas markets in the UK. Implement some or all of these responsible travel measures during your visit.
Shop Mindfully: When visiting Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market, remember to consider what you genuinely need before making purchases. This reduces unnecessary waste and supports mindful consumer habits. For instance, if you’re looking for a gift, consider whether the recipient will truly value and use it. If you’re buying for yourself, think about whether you have something similar at home. If you already have enough Christmas decorations, consider buying experiences or consumables like local food products instead.
Walk, Cycle and Use Public Transport: Winchester is a compact and pedestrian-friendly city. If you’re staying within the city, consider walking or cycling to the market instead of driving. If you’re coming from afield, use public transport options like trains and buses. This reduces your carbon footprint and can be a more enjoyable way to travel, as you can sit back, relax, and avoid the stress of finding parking.
Stay in a Sustainable Hotel: If you’re staying overnight in Winchester, consider choosing a hotel that prioritises sustainability. There are several accommodation options in and around Winchester that use renewable energy sources or have energy-saving measures in place.
Eat Locally Sourced Organic Food: The market offers a wide range of food vendors. Look out for those that use locally sourced and organic ingredients. This supports local farmers and businesses, reduces food miles, and can provide a fresher, tastier meal.
Limit Your Consumption of Meat and Dairy: Consider trying some of the vegetarian or vegan food options available at the market. Reducing your consumption of meat and dairy is one of the most effective ways to reduce your environmental footprint. Plus, you might discover a new favourite dish.
Be Open to Diverse Cultures and Experiences: The Winchester Christmas Market attracts vendors and visitors from various cultural backgrounds. Embrace this diversity by trying food from different cultures, buying handmade goods from international vendors, or engaging in conversation with stallholders and fellow visitors.
Explore More Than Just the Main Tourist Areas: While the Christmas Market is a major attraction, don’t forget to explore the rest of Winchester. Discover its historic sites, take a walk along the beautiful River Itchen, or explore the shops and eateries in its quaint side streets.
Support the Arts and Attend Local Events: Alongside the market, other events often take place in Winchester. Check out any local concerts, plays, or art exhibitions happening during your visit. Supporting the arts contributes to the local economy and enhances your overall experience.
The Winchester Christmas market starts on 17th November and continues until 21st December 2023.
The Christmas market opens Sunday to Thursday: 10am to 6pm. Friday and Saturday: 10am to 8pm.
The Christmas market closes at 6pm except on Fridays and Saturdays when it closes at 8pm.
The Christmas lights are switched on at 6pm on 16th November 2023.
It’s recommended to avoid driving to the Christmas markets due to the crowds and the potential for air and noise pollution in the area. If you must drive, there is a Park & Ride service that is inexpensive or free for bus pass holders. There is disabled parking at the Colebrook Street car park.
The Christmas market is free to enter, and tickets are not required.
If you have visited Winchester in winter or want to leave a review of Winchester Xmas Market, please comment below.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Winchester, UK. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.