With December’s salary quickly plundered, a mini break to a German Christmas market soon gets relegated to the one day wish list. But this year why not swap Wuerzburg for Winchester Christmas market which attracts a staggering 350,000 visitors every year. Nestled below the impressive façade of Winchester Cathedral, the market is a treasure trove of quirky artisan wares where you can warm your cockles on gluhwein, bratwurst and stollen.
Located a ninety minute journey from the capital, Winchester is ideal for a day trip or an afternoon/ evening visit. As England’s ancient capital and the former seat of King Alfred the Great, Winchester oozes history. Must-sees include the legendary Arthurian Round Table and Winchester College – England’s oldest running school.
The Winchester Christmas market was founded in 2006 and now includes a compact arena composed of over 100 wooden chalets. There’s also an ice skating rink where you can wobble off the Bratwurst.
The chalets offer diverse wares ranging from exotic lanterns to old-school satchels and swish South American suede handbags. For those seeking new Christmas decorations there’s no end of baubles, glinting glass stars and zesty citrus-scented wreaths.
Foodie temptations include indulgent slabs of fudge, German teacakes, wax cheddar truckles and my favourite Georgie Porgie’s steamed puddings. The market’s main attraction for me is the artisan crafts section where you’ll find intricate wood carvings, quirky wooden chopping boards, pottery, textile designs and this amazing Rooster which definitely caught my eye.
With hunger pangs biting, I head off to the food section which is disappointingly small particularly in comparison to Bath Christmas Market. Bratwurst, burgers, grilled cheese toasties, mince pies and stollen are the order of the day. Wash it down with quirky Meade concoctions including hot buttered cranberry punch, continental beers or gluhwein. (The queues for food can be lengthy particularly between 6.00 and 7.00pm.)
One of the big advantages of visiting the market in early evening is that you can nip in to the Cathedral (Mondays to Saturday at 5.30pm) to catch Evensong. As the heavenly strains of the Cathedral Choir ricochet around the stained glass windows, it’s starting to feel a lot like Christmas.
The Winchester Christmas Market runs from the 19th November until the 22nd December.