Making Merry Open Studios - Christmas Shopping with a Difference

Press Release: 14/11/2005

Long known for its ancient treasures and public art, Winchester has steadily been establishing itself as the home of modern talent. This month, local people and visitors alike have the opportunity to meet a range of artists and craftspeople across the District as they open their doors for a special weekend of demonstrations, festive cheer and unusual Christmas present ideas.

Taking place on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 November, Making Merry Open Studios is a celebration of contemporary art on a Christmas theme, co-ordinated by Winchester City Council's tourism service as part of the annual Winchester Christmas Festival.

This year sees a huge increase in the number of artists taking part in the Winchester District - an impressive forty-eight to be exact - from as far afield as Micheldever Station, to Wickham, Droxford and North Boarhunt, as well as plenty in the city centre itself, all offering a fantastic selection of jewellery, textiles, glass, ceramics, paintings and sculptures. If you can't wait to see what is on offer, a selection of work is already on display in 'The View' on Bridge Street, Winchester.

Winchester City Council's Special Events Officer Elaine Robbins said, "We all need added inspiration at Christmas time and the Making Merry weekend promises plenty of fresh ideas. There's also something very special about talking to the artist and finding out how and why the object was made: it adds the personal touch to an individual, hand-made present. I am amazed at how the event has grown over the years; it's very satisfying to see that Winchester's artists enjoy Making Merry as much as the public."

From cards and prints at very modest prices to bespoke items to lavish on your nearest and dearest, Making Merry promises treats to suit all pockets. In addition to gift ideas, some of the artists are offering refreshments from tea and biscuits to warming mulled wine and mince pies.  Others are giving demonstrations and advice, or offering discounts during the weekend on production of the Making Merry programme.

The Mayor of Winchester's Christmas Craft Fair is also taking place on Saturday 19 November, raising funds for the Mayor's Charities and coincides with the Making Merry weekend. There will be 18 stalls offering a wide selection of gifts for sale, including handbags, jewellery, prints and Christmas cards, all in the auspicious surroundings of Abbey House, the Mayor's official residence. 

Winchester City Council's Portfolio Holder for Culture, Heritage and Sport, Cllr Therese Evans, said, "I can't think of a more relaxing or imaginative way to tackle the annual gift list. We are lucky to have so many fine craftsmakers and artists in this area and I am delighted that they have all joined together to provide such an unusual weekend.

"Many residents are probably unaware of the range and quality of crafts on their doorstep, and a number of these craftspeople don't regularly open their doors to the public: so this seems the perfect Christmas marriage of novelty and need. I am delighted that the Mayor is opening Abbey House too as part of the weekend."

The weekend is also a perfect way for both residents and visitors to get out and explore the District.  A full list of participating venues, opening arrangements and access for visitors with disabilities can be found in the Making Merry programme available from Winchester Tourist Information Centre, telephone 01962 840 500 or email, or from the website