Winchester has a myriad of seasonal treats on offer and we’ve picked just a few of our favourites…
The Square has been described by the Telegraph as “the beating heart of chic Winchester”. Cadogan & Co has certainly earned this reputation. Featured in Vogue’s 100 best shopping destinations outside London, it’s a treasure trove of couture, sumptuous service and the perfect spot for those wanting to enjoy the act of trying and buying clothes. This independent retailer of designer menswear, ladieswear and homeware has been run for over 20 years by Alex Edwards, and the skillful, comfortable elegance of his welcoming approach, along with that of his staff, makes this the type of shop people will travel back to Winchester to seek out. Celebrity clients include Hugh Bonneville, Colin Firth, James Martin, Isabella Anstruther Gough-Calthorp among many others.
The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Carol Concert could send a shiver through even the most hardened humbug’s spine, with its stunning Cathedral Choir and candle-lit magnificence. The main concert will take place on Friday 12th December at 7pm, conducted by Andrew Lumsden with guest appearances by Stephen Gadd and Claire Rutter, international opera and concert singers and presented by BBC’s South Today Sally Taylor. If you don’t manage to get tickets, there will also be Britten’s Ceremony of Carols lunchtime concert at 1pm on 23rd December or of course midnight mass on Christmas eve (starting at 11.30pm).
Burcott Farm is “fanatical” about Christmas trees, involved in both growing as well as selling them. Typically you’ll take home a Nordmann Fir between six and nine years old, although Burcott also offer traditional Norway Spruce ranging from 3 – 12 feet, along with tree stands, natural fruit and cone decorations and festive wreaths.
The family outing
The famous Winchester Christmas market in Cathedral Close boasts its open-air ice rink, which is a suitably festive family trip out (open from 20 November 2014 to 4 January 2015). For those who are less Torvill and Dean, more mulled wine and stollen, there are plenty of other festive distractions on offer in the beautifully lit Germanic fairytale cabins, including holiday food and Christmas gifts. Speaking of which…
Winchester is a pretty perfect Christmas shopping destination, with its blend of big name shops and independent retailers. Aside from the Christmas market and the fabulous Cadogan & Co, if you linger in the Square you could find some specialist kitchenware for those budding British Bake-off friends or family members at Dinghams. Or if you’re a bit Gen Y trendy, head into The Hambledon for vintage, clothing and homeware. If you want pure vintage, climb up the hill to Stardust Years for authentic ladies fashion and accessories. For something special you might like to pop over to Parchment Street to Boudoir Blush, which offers luxury lingerie with free gift wrapping. Chococo is a must for edible gifts, and we urge you to stop off for a hot chocolate whilst there. Finally, don’t forget the tucked away gem that is Kingsgate Village for Kingsgate Books & Prints, Cornflowers Gift Shop, P&G Wells Booksellers or Kingsgate Wine and Provisions. And there are many more hidden boutiques or purveyors of luxury items so get some walking boots on, boycott the online retainer whose name we dare not speak and dig out some hand-picked treasures.
The festive tipple
Sitting in an ideally central location, across from the Cathedral and in the heart of the Square, is The Old Vine hotel, bar and restaurant. Managed by Austin, the Grade II listed 18th-century inn is the perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the busy christmas markets and and shops. They have a well kept bar, competitively priced menu and a warm seasonal atmosphere.
The award-winning Beachcroft farm shop near Crab Wood on Sarum Road isn’t really a secret anymore. A much-loved destination for local produce, with homegrown lamb, beef and pork courtesy of the small and wonderfully friendly family-run farm, Christmas orders are now being taken and you can download an order form online. Locally-reared turkeys are also on offer, along with all the trimmings. You can also purchase gift hampers or vouchers for fellow lovers of fine-quality Hampshire fare. The farm shop is open on Friday: 10am – 5.30pm, Saturday: 9am – 5pm and over Christmas, Mon. 22nd Dec 10am-5pm, Tues. 23rd Dec 7.30am – 5.30pm and Wed. 24th Dec 7.30am – 12pm. And you’ll also be able to catch Rachel or one of the team at the Winchester famers market on Sunday 14th December.
It’s time for panto. Oh no it isn’t! Oh yes it is, and the Theatre Royal is treating us to ‘Sleeping Beauty’ between Tues 9 Dec 2014 – Sun 4 Jan 2015. Embrace the festive audience participation with fire-breathing dragons, live music and original songs.
The Good deeds
Christmas is all about the giving, and there are lots of ways to get involved with local charity projects. On 13th December there’s the Winchester & District Young Carer’s Charity gift wrap in the Brooke’s centre. The Hampshire Chronicle Christmas Toy appeal allows you to donate a toy for a toddler up to a 13 year-old child with three local charities benefitting: Winchester Basics Bank, Friends of the Family and Home-Start Winchester. Finally, earn the forthcoming culinary indulgence with the Santa Fun Run, a 5k walk or run dressed head to toe as St Nic, in support of Naomi House and Jacksplace hospices for children and young adults on Sunday 7th December.
We’ll be bringing you more festive tips soon. Meanwhile, don’t forget the guide to parking as things get busy in our fair city.