December is the time when my favourite cities transform into the most beautiful of places. One of these old favourites is the cathedral city of Winchester, the ancient capital of Wessex and home to the quaintest corners. Every cobbled street is decked with twinkling lights, each pub warm and inviting. Festive displays line the high street, enticing shoppers with delightful gifts, the surroundings full of character.
When twilight coats the city in a velvety blanket of dusk, it transitions into a magical backdrop: charming scenes sit hidden behind sash windows, an orange glow radiating warmth and spilling out onto the streets where a biting chill rests in the air. Everything looks dazzling and enchanting, like a scene from a fairytale.
A highlight of the city at this time of year is the beloved Winchester Christmas Market, snaking its way around the cloisters of the majestic Cathedral. Artisans exhibit their graceful crafts and intricate creations in wooden stalls while foodies revel in the comforting scent of roasted chestnuts and hot chocolate drifting between stands. On weekends, the atmosphere is bustling and lively, feet shuffling slowly along with the flow of the crowd.
Escaping the cold with a tipple in one of the cosy nooks dotted around the city centre is most appealing, but finding a spot to perch on is not always guaranteed. Some of the best watering holes are hidden from the main tourist trail and make huddling with a soothing cup of liquid more of a possibility. We finished our day tucked away in a snug corner in the bar at Hotel du Vin, a pretty tree to one side and a sparkling ambience of festivities to come. Oh, if only Winchester house prices didn’t rival those of London!