Every year around this time, Winchester Cathedral transforms into a bustling hub of festive activity as the annual Christmas Market and open-air ice rink come to town, and this year it’s all kicking off next Thursday.

The market will be running for 32 days this year from Thursday 22nd November until Sunday 23rd December 2012 and will be open every day (10am-6pm Sunday to Wednesday and 10am-7.30pm Thursday to Saturday).

Inspired by the traditional German and European Christmas Markets, this outdoor extravaganza attracts around 350,000 visitors. A fantastic, real ice rink covers the grassy area at the side of the cathedral and is surrounded by dozens of wooden chalets selling a variety of wacky, wonderful and unique Christmas gifts and delicious hot snacks and drinks. The market is particularly exciting for us art students as it champions British craft trade and encourages as many British craftspeople as they can to take part. There are always home-grown jewellers, textile artists, painters and glass makers selling their original, handmade wares.

The ice rink is an extremely popular attraction at the Christmas Market with various hour-long sessions running throughout the day. Get there early to avoid queuing but usually you won’t have to wait too long to get onto the ice. Whether you’re an ice-skating rookie or could have been an extra right out of ‘Blades of Glory’, everyone is guaranteed to have a laugh on the ice rink and you can even have a drink or a bite to eat at the little indoor cafe next door.

The Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market is a must-see for everyone. You can look for a special Christmas gift, have a go at ice-skating or warm up with a glass of mulled wine and a mince pie. In Winchester, the Christmas Market is definitely the place to be during the festive season!

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