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*UPDATE: Please note that following the Government’s announcement on 31 October of new national Coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions between 5 November and 2 December, the Winchester Christmas Nutcracker Trail will now begin 3 December.

*FURTHER UPDATE: Following the Government’s announcement on 23 December that Winchester and most of Hampshire will move to Tier 4 restrictions from 26 December some of the Nutcracker Kings are in locations which may not be accessible after this date (for example, those in The Square, Cathedral and Kings Walk). These locations can be left blank on your trail sheet and completed sheets can be returned via the post box of the Winchester BID office. Please see below for more information.

Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) have announced their plans for the festive season, which will include coordinating the city’s spectacular Christmas lights and new for this year – the Winchester Nutcracker Christmas Trail.

Each year Winchester BID coordinates Winchester’s city-wide festive lighting scheme and the annual Christmas Lights Switch On event which marks the start of the festive season. This year, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Christmas Lights Switch On event which usually attracts thousands of people, will sadly not be able to go ahead. However, the BID will be organising alternative ways to celebrate the lights being switched on this year.

The Christmas lights will be switched on during November, ensuring that the city will be looking it’s best at Christmastime and bringing some festive cheer after what has been a difficult year for many. Winchester BID will be filming fun and festive video content which will be shared online throughout the season, featuring breathtaking shots of the city centre and its festive lights. There will also be behind-the-scenes footage showing the installation of the lights and the 38 ft tall Christmas tree in the High Street.

New to the 2020 festive season, people in Winchester will be able to enjoy the Nutcracker Christmas Trail from Thursday 3 December (originally advertised as Saturday 14 November before the announcement of national COVID-19 restrictions) to Monday 4 January! Find the names of the 14 Nutcracker Kings and enter a draw to win a special prize. Self-guided trail booklets are available to download or to collect from the Visitor Information Centre. The Nutcracker Kings will be positioned at different locations across the city centre, encouraging people to discover more of Winchester this festive season. Following the trail will enable participants to see all the wonderful festive lights while Christmas shopping and enjoying Winchester’s fantastic shops, eateries and other businesses along the way.

A digital version of the Nutcracker Christmas Trail has been created by Visit Winchester:

Sarah Davis, Projects and Operations Manager at Winchester BID, said:

“While we are sad not to be able to organise our usual Christmas Lights Switch On event this year, which is such a wonderful community event to kick start the festive season, we are excited to be exploring new ways to celebrate Christmas in Winchester. As well as the festive lights and the Nutcracker Christmas Trail there will be lots of different activities taking place both online and in the city centre. We are working closely with Visit Winchester, Winchester City Council, Winchester Cathedral, the local business community and local people on alternative plans this year to help raise spirits and celebrate the festive season.”

For the latest updates, please follow #FestiveWinch and Winchester BID on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

To find out about what else is happening in Winchester during this year’s festive season, please visit the Visit Winchester and Winchester Cathedral websites.

*T&Cs apply – To be entered into the prize draw, your trail sheet must be fully completed and returned to the Visitor Information Centre by 4 January 2021. A winner will be drawn week commencing 11 January and be contacted accordingly. Please check the latest opening times for the Visitor Information Centre before travelling and at times when it is closed completed trail sheets can be returned via the post box of the Winchester BID office (Winchester Business Centre, 10 Parchment Street, SO23 8AT).

Video: Winchester Christmas Lights video added to this post on 2 December 2020.

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