The Summer’s Just Starting in Winchester

With the school term started and nights starting to draw in, it’s easy to feel that summer is over. But September 2008 will be different in Winchester, as the city centre lights up with two weeks of early evening activities.  Organisers of Open Up - Lighten Up Winchester are inviting everyone to enjoy a continental-style experience, with extended shopping hours, entertainment and plenty of café culture starting this Thursday 18th September.

Open Up - Lighten Up Winchester presents five early evenings of inspiration, colour and social opportunities, as the city centre comes alive at what has traditionally been a very quiet time between 5pm and 7.30pm.  Visitors to Winchester may even think they are in continental Europe, as they wander through the High Street and The Square to enjoy a feast of live music and dance, workshops and early evening guided walks. The event culminates on Friday 26th September with a lively lantern procession through The Square and along the High Street. The good news is that most of these activities are also free of charge.

Performances include bands, dance groups and street performers, and there are free workshops ranging from circus skills to salsa and from singing to tea dancing.  The entertainment will take place inside local pubs and out on the street, and the line-up even includes a run with the local Hash House Harriers. The two Thursdays bring extended opening hours at shops, the tourist information centre and the City Museum as well as two themed tours by the Winchester Area Tourist Guides Association.

A day of willow and tissue sculpture making workshops at the Discovery Centre takes place on Sunday 21st September, with the sculptures themed around flowers and flames. They will be designed to incorporate the vibrant colours of the Cultural Olympiad and to decorate shop windows in time for the Friday evening procession.

Open Up - Lighten Up Winchester is the city’s way of marking the launch of the Cultural Olympiad, the four year celebration of the best of British arts, culture and heritage leading to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.   The City Council is working with Hat Fair and with local event organizer Clive Burgess to deliver the five night programme, and has been well supported by the City Centre Partnership.

The City Council, whose 2012 Framework is currently out for consultation, is keen to ensure that the opportunities of London 2012 benefit local people.

The Council’s Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture and Sport, Cllr Patricia Stallard, said:

"Winchester is a cultural hotspot in the South East, and it seems only natural to be participating in the Cultural Olympiad from day one.  There is, of course, a serious side to the project which we hope to grow from this pilot into a bigger event in future years to stimulate our early evening economy. I hope that plenty of people will take this opportunity to step out of their offices and enjoy the atmosphere, or indeed bring the family into town for a tea time treat.”  

Full details of Open Up - Lighten Up Winchester can be downloaded from  Alternatively, visit or call Winchester Tourist Information Centre on Broadway, tel 01962 840 500 or email