The Christmas market promises to be devoid of ‘light’.
Christmas officially begins this week with the switching on of the Christmas lights and the first day of the Christmas Market on Thursday 16 November 2023. The Christmas Market will run until Tuesday 2 January 2024 giving everyone the chance to enjoy it after the family celebrations are over.
The free Christmas countdown event, organized by GO! Southampton will be extended, including the official lighting of the lights, with free entertainment during the opening weekend. Find the full schedule of events at Visit Southampton.
On Thursday, November 16, Christmas characters will roam the streets during four hours of entertainment starting at 4 p.m. Total karaoke sensation Massaoke will also be in full swing starting at 6 p.m.
To officially mark the start of the city’s Christmas festivities, the legendary Christopher Biggins, star of this year’s Mayflower Playhouse, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” will turn on the Christmas lights. Christopher Biggins will be joined by Scrooge himself, played by 15-year-old Alex Lockhart, in MAST Mayflower Studios’ production of “A Christmas Carol,” but he promises there will be “no bullshit” in sight.
As for the lights themselves, everyone loves twinkling Christmas lights and they don’t come any brighter. A stunning light show will illuminate the historic Bargate area and will take place every 30 minutes, between 5pm and 9.30pm every night until December 24, with the first show on Thursday at 7pm.
The light show is managed by Projection Studio, a projection company that has broken a double Guinness World Record and is a supplier of large format projectors for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
But that’s not all that makes the Christmas market bigger and better this year. In addition, there will be tours of Guildhall Square extending the Christmas market to this area of the city centre. These will include one of the UK’s tallest Ferris wheels and the gravity-defying AtmosFear wheel, which swings riders up to 80 feet into the sky, while spinning 360 degrees.
For younger visitors, there’s a dedicated Christmas fun house for kids at the Bargate with rides, crafts and a Father’s Day weekend.
The market itself will once again feature picturesque, individually designed chalets in the Alpine style. There are over 30 independent stalls offering a range of gifts including candles, clothes, jewellery, handmade Christmas decorations and of course plenty of food stalls. You can find all the details about the stall owners.
But there’s more going on this Christmas in our city. WestQuay once again hosts an ice rink, GO! Not only has the City of Southampton prepared four days of entertainment for the switch event, but they have also organized a Christmas Trail and there are a range of family activities at the City Art Gallery and Sea City Museum.
On its opening weekend, there’s ‘Gonks at the Gallery’ at Southampton City Art Gallery on Saturday 18 November. A free family Christmas craft activity where you can create your own Christmas toy to add some festive flair to your home. Attend anytime between 10.30am – 3.30pm.
Santa Claus will also be present at the Tudor House & Garden. You can find dates and times on the Tudor House website.
Council President, Councilor Satveer Kaur, said:
“We’re very excited to announce all our fantastic plans for Christmas this year, and I’m particularly looking forward to the free light display in Bargate. We know that Southampton is a top destination for both locals and visitors alike, attracting dozens of people. Thousands to our city During the holiday period, which contributed greatly to our local economy.
“We’ve been working hard with partners to ensure the festive season is bigger and better than ever this year, with something for everyone, of all ages and backgrounds, but also with more free activities, so no one misses out.”
Stanley Reeves, Managing Director of S&D Leisure, commented:
“This year’s market will be bigger and better than ever before. Southampton has a real treat in store with a daily light display that will light up the Bargate spectacularly and is set to music. Christmas is a time of twinkling lights and we will have lots of lights.” This is in addition to free entertainment for the whole family.”
Stephen Mannion, CEO at GO! Southampton said:
“Christmas in Southampton is always a magical time and with lots of fun and excitement for all the family, this year’s larger market will attract even more locals and visitors to the town centre. This is great news for our retail and hospitality businesses.”