CHRISTMAS at Winchester Cathedral will be without its ice rink to allow space for social distancing.

Winchester Christmas Market organisers have said the ice rink has been replaced this year by a stage for free performances to take place during the market weekends.

The market opens on November 19 with increased social distancing throughout, with wider walkways and monitoring of the number of people who attend.

A spokesperson from Winchester Cathedral said: “After careful consideration, the decision was made to replace the ice rink with a stage.

“While the stage allows for increased space for social distancing, the Cathedral is delighted to be offering a variety of exciting, free performances throughout the duration of the Christmas Market.

“Throughout the day, across all weekends, local acts from Hampshire, including choir groups, community bands, school choirs, city buskers, jazz groups and more, will come together to perform on the stage to entertain this year's festive visitors.”

As previous reported in the Chronicle, city centre buskers will be able perform during the Christmas Market after two were challenged by the Cathedral for where they were playing, with both being resolved.

Alison Evans, Chief Operating Officer at Winchester Cathedral said: “The Christmas Market will have something for everyone with the many unique gifts and treats on offer from the wide variety of chalets, along with live performances and additional space for visitors to safely relax with delicious food and drinks in the historic grounds of the Cathedral.

“The return of the market is also an opportunity to put the difficulties and challenges of last year behind us and to be able to look forward to a wonderful and hopeful Christmas.

“We look forward to welcoming visitors back this year, with a programme of events and services that will bring festive cheer to all.”

The Christmas Market will be open daily from November 19 – December 22 from 10.00am, until 6.30pm Sunday to Wednesday and 8.00pm Thursday to Saturday.