Saturday is Santaday as Winchester’s first grotto proclaimed success

Press Release: 13/11/2015

Christmas Grotto

This year the City Council’s Visit Winchester team hosted their first Father Christmas grotto – based on artwork in the children’s picture book The Night Before Christmas by internationally renowned children’s illustrator Christian Birmingham.

At a special taster event timed to tie in with Winchester BID’s light switch-on local children visited Santa Claus in his magical grotto in the Tourist Information Centre in the Guildhall.
Sarah Harfield, Winchester Tourist Information Centre Team Leader, said:

Every year so many visitors to the tourist information centre ask if there is a grotto in the city centre as there is a demand for family-friendly fun. As a result we’ve been working extra hard and managed to convince Father Christmas to visit us in the run up to Christmas. With Coca Cola’s Christmas truck also coming to the city and the Winchester charity Christmas cards now on sale we’re looking forward to a particularly festive season.


Cllr James Byrnes, Portfolio Holder for the local Economy, said:

2015 is a high profile year for the Perfect Christmas campaign as it is the 10th anniversary of the Cathedral’s market and ice rink and the City Council wanted to mark this in a way that engaged our youngest citizens. It is not a profit-making exercise –we are charging a nominal fee to cover the costs of creating the grotto and Candy Cane Lane and hope that it will become an established event going forward.

The response so far has been extremely positive. It was gratifying to see the look of delight on so many children’s faces – we have had many parents saying that it is the best grotto that they have ever been to!


The Winchester Grotto will be open on the four Saturdays leading up to Christmas. Pre-bookable tickets are available between 10am and 1:15pm. From 1:15pm – 4:30pm the grotto will be operating on a first-come first-served basis; tickets are purchased on arrival at the Grotto and cannot be sold in advance. Tickets cost £5 per person.