Chichester to get its first-ever chalet-style Christmas market

Amid the worsening pandemic, there is hope for a much brighter Chichester Christmas next year with the news that the city is to get its very own Christmas market for the first time ever.

Emma Schwarz
Emma Schwarz

The RARE Brand Christmas Market at Chichester Cathedral will bring together around 50 to 60 wooden chalets on the Cathedral Green from late November to late December 2022.

It comes from RARE Life, the team behind the RARE Brand Market, the BARN Little London and Slow Food Sussex, working in collaboration with the Cathedral.

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RARE Life founder Emma Schwarz said she was keen to announce next year’s Christmas market now as things were all looking so uncertain again. The market will also be at Goodwood mid-November.

“It will have music and singing and shopping. It will involve that great Christmas wonder that we all want and it will put the Cathedral at the centre of Chichester’s Christmas.

“We can feel in the air at the moment that the festive cheer is starting to be dampened and we have got to accept a difficult few months coming up but we have got to hope that by this time next year, with all the boosters in place and having learned the lessons that we need to learn, we will really be able to enjoy something special.”

Emma said it had been four years in the planning. The pandemic had slowed things down, but the key elements had been getting all the relevant permissions, Emma said.

“We don’t want it to be your typical German hut-style Christmas market. We don’t want to have hospitality/food chalets involved where you can buy a complete meal. We don’t want to be competing with the hospitality that is already there in Chichester and that has been having such a disastrous time. About 40 per cent all of our chalets will be food and drink but it will be sampling only. We don’t want to take any of the business away from the restaurants in Chichester.

“We want it to be a super niche event, about a third the size of what you get in Winchester though we would like to think that we could grow it more in the future. There will be an element of lifestyle and non-food, ladies accessories and menswear and clothes that we would wear at that time. But what we are trying to do is to use our RARE Brand Market curation to make sure that we’re not competing with the high street, that we are in fact complementing the high street. It will give independent retailers and emerging brands the ability to trade at a time when perhaps they can’t afford to have a shop.

“We are also hoping to have a little stage and maybe get Chichester Festival Theatre to do some pop-up theatre. We might have some choirs singing there as well within the market. We have got plans to work with the Festival Theatre for sure and we are hoping to work with Pallant House Gallery and Goodwood and all the other people that are important to the area, to have them coming together around the Cathedral to make it a really great place to be next Christmas.

“We are still having to be very highly sensitive about the graves that are there. We have worked with the District Council very closely to make sure that whatever we put in place will, from an event management point of view, be hugely respectful to what is there.

“We are also trying to celebrate local as much as possible as we do with the RARE Brand Market. We’re trying to make sure that people can tick their shopping off their list and so if we can’t get local scarves and hats made by local makers, we will perhaps go further afield but really it will basically be the south of England triangle.”

If anyone is wanting to get in touch and find out about taking part next year, they can make contact through the website www.rarelife.co.uk.

The Very Rev Stephen Waine, The Dean of Chichester, said: “We are delighted to be collaborating with RARE Brand to present the Christmas market at Chichester Cathedral. We have worked closely with Emma and her team to ensure that this highly anticipated experience is fully considerate of the daily life of the Cathedral, and that the market is appropriate for the special nature of this sacred place of worship.”