Christmas Market: One week in

November 25, 2016

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It barely seems possible that it is a week since the Christmas Market and Ice Rink at Winchester Cathedral were formally opened and the Boy Choristers of the Cathedral skated on the rink in their cassocks in front of a dozen members of the local and national press.

Over 100 stalls surround the rink, and it has been a joy to welcome new faces as well as more familiar ones from previous years. What looked like a collection of garden sheds a fortnight ago has been transformed into a cornucopia of Christmas goodies and a smorgasbord of tasty treats. Evening times are particularly special as the lights on the chalets seem to twinkle and an enhanced lighting effect picks out the detail of the Close that surrounds them.

The rink now boasts its much-anticipated clear-span roof, a brave innovation for the tenth anniversary aimed at guaranteeing a rain-free skate. The weather last weekend could not have been more challenging for an ice rink, but the roof performed excellently so people can book ahead confidently in the knowledge that they will not be disappointed on the day.

“After almost a year of planning we are delighted to have opened the market and ice rink in our tenth anniversary.” says Annabelle Boyes, Receiver General at the Cathedral. “We’re looking forward to welcoming thousands of visitors and skaters over the period of the market. We’re also thrilled that the new roof has performed so well over the last few days, despite some really very nasty weather.”

As well as demonstrating some excellent skating skills, the choristers of the Cathedral Choir are limbering up their voices for a busy Advent and Christmas Season. Between them the 16 boys and 17 girls will sing over a dozen special Christmas services and four concerts (in the Cathedral and elsewhere) in addition to continuing to lead the daily worship, which they do all year round. On the up-side their reward will be four Christmas Dinners and that’s before they get to go home on Christmas Day!

That reminds us, of course, that the Christmas Market wouldn’t be a Christmas Market without Christmas and the ‘greatest story ever told’. As far as the market is concerned, this comes in the form of a Nativity scene in one of the chalets in the Craft Village – the way is appropriately pointed out by three kings on a wall. There is a Mission Chalet, run by Churches Together in Winchester, and a Charity Chalet, which is occupied by different charitable organisations over the period. Music abounds outside as well as in and, as Christmas Day itself draws closer, there will be regular carol singing from groups of all ages in and around the market.

And so, despite it feeling remarkably early to do so, why not join the expected 350,000 visitors from around the country and, indeed, the world at what is widely recognised as one of the best Christmas Markets in the country.