England, UK, Wanderlust

Family day out: Winchester Cathedral Christmas market

I love Winchester – I was there earlier this year visiting Winchester Cathedral with one of my best friends, while Minnie saw her first Christmas market there on a day trip to the city three years ago.

Exterior of Winchester cathedral in Hampshire, with Winchester cathedral Christmas market in its grounds - visiting Winchester Christmas market with kids

I love the history, I love the old buildings and twisty streets, I love the big statue of King Alfred raising his sword over a roundabout. And I especially love the Winchester Christmas market in the shadow of the cathedral, its little stalls dotted around an ice rink with festive music and spices in the air.

After reading about Christmas markets galore around the UK and Europe over the past few weeks, I was determined to visit one last weekend. So Winchester Cathedral Christmas market was the obvious choice.

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For once it was a family outing – which also meant I got to have some gluhwein as I didn’t have to drive back – and I had big plans to introduce Minnie to ice skating, complete with one of those helpful penguins for balance, as well as enjoying a leisurely browse.

I’d forgotten that I’m not the only person who loves Winchester Christmas market though… after negotiating the traffic, tracking down a parking space (as all the car parks were full) and navigating the crowds around the stalls, we discovered the skating slots were booked up until later that evening. The perils of being spontaneous.

But it was still huge fun: the queues were never too big, the mulled wine kept me snug and warm, there were food stalls to keep three very different appetites happy and a constant soundtrack of Christmassy music.

Unlike some other UK Christmas markets, I always seem to spy something a little bit different here too – some gorgeous gloves and scarves, garlands of dried fruits and other tempting stocking fillers.

Wandering back through the park behind the historic Guildhall, we even had chance for Minnie to check out the playground while I listened to the water of the river flowing past nearby.

And while we didn’t have much time to explore Winchester itself, it’s a city I always love to wander – on our first visit, I added the family-friendly City Museum and the Westgate Museum in the city’s medieval gates to my list.

Both alas closed when we visited in midwinter so they’re still on my wishlist, as is the Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium.

You can also explore the Great Hall, the only remaining section of Winchester Castle, including the round table, which dates back to at least the 14th century.

The cathedral itself is unmissable too – wandering under those soaring arches, discovering what happened to the ancient royalty buried there and some of the quirkier aspects to discover within the ancient walls.

But whether I explore the historic streets or not, when it comes to my favourite UK Christmas markets, Winchester is one which easily makes the list.

For more ideas of visiting Christmas markets with kids, check out my pick of the London Christmas markets, as well as a day out at Marwell Zoo or Winchester Science Centre nearby and a treasure trail at Salisbury cathedral if you’re looking for days out in Hampshire with kids


A visit to Winchester Cathedral Christmas market with kids - one of England's loveliest Christmas markets in the shadow of Winchester cathedral, the first capital city of England. We spotted the statue of King Alfred then strolled around drinking mulled wine and listening to carols for a great family day out #winchestercathedral #winchesteruk #ukchristmasmarket

Images and video copyright MummyTravels