The Real Christmas Chalet at Winchester Christmas Market

man standing by Christmas chalet

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If you simply want to sign up, please see “How can I get involved?” at the bottom of this page

Who are we?

The Real Christmas Chalet, formerly known as the Mission Chalet, is an opportunity to share the love of God with visitors to Winchester Christmas Market. The Chalet is organised by Churches Together Winchester by invitation from Winchester Cathedral. It was initiated several years ago by the Bishop of Winchester. Each year numerous Christians from Winchester and the surrounding area staff the Chalet over the period of the Christmas Market.

Stories from last year

The following anonymised entries from the Chalet log book give a flavour of what went on in 2018.

A man said “I came last year (from Wigan) and wrote out a prayer. I came later on the early part of the following year and visited Vineyard Church — and they read out my prayer! The one I had written! I was gobsmacked! Not only that, but my prayer was then answered when I got back to Wigan!”

Invited a young lady and man to write on a star. They were thoughtful and wrote on them. I asked if they had a faith of their own. He said ‘vaguely’. I offered a Luke’s Gospel saying it had the story of Christmas. Asked them to read it and ask God to reveal himself. They said they would.

smiling woman in chalet

Lots of good conversations and engagement with the nativity. Chatting about church and whether people go at Christmas. Good to engage with people!

Found a return train ticket. Prayed I would find the person whose ticket it was. Headed into the crowd and came face to face with a lady who had written a prayer star earlier – the ticket was hers!

Lots of conversations. It was really easy to chat to people. One young man, happy to write on a star.

On a wet, windy day 15-20 people wrote on stars. Most people took one look and saw we had nothing to sell then moved on. Others looked closer and asked how much it cost to have a star! Many friendly conversations.

How can I get involved?

Volunteers or potential volunteers, please read the following instructions carefully.

  • There were three training sessions, but if you couldn’t make them:
    • Be yourself and trust God to help you.
    • Invite people to tie a strip of fabric to the back of the chalet as a way of giving a burden to God or for something for which they are thankful, then invite them to take a “blessing” (a Bible verse) from the box on the left of the chalet.
    • Offer Luke’s gospels and/or tracts as appropriate.
    • Do not initiate conversations with under-18s (see below for safeguarding).
    • Cathedral security will open and lock up the chalet – you don’t need to be concerned with that.
  • Please read and abide by the Cathedral’s evangelism code.
  • If you have not done the course “Safeguarding: Basic Awareness (C0)” in the last two years, you must complete it before you attend the chalet.
    • The training takes about an hour.
    • Click here to access the CofE Safeguarding Training Portal. You will need an email address in order to create an account.
    • Unless you are part of a training institution, select the option ‘not part of a training institution’.
    • Please select the correct diocese.
    • For any difficulties in accessing the Safeguarding Training Portal please email: elearning@safeguardingtraining.cofeportal.org.
    • After taking the training, you may like to download and keep this Safeguarding Aide Memoire Leaflet.
  • Sign up online (you can leave this until after the training, especially if you are new).
  • Read the stories from last year (above) and be encouraged.
  • Pray for many people to volunteer this year and for all the visitors they will encounter.
  • Check out the volunteer stats – the more churches are involved, the better.

Here’s a photo from one of last year’s training sessions:

group of people waving