WINCHESTER Cathedral’s Christmas Market is planned to go ahead this year despite the coronavirus pandemic, but there will be no ice rink.

Organisers have lodged an application with the city council expand the footprint of the market to allow for social distancing.

In order to welcome similar visitor numbers to previous years, the event is proposed to “spread out over a far greater area” such as the Outer Close including around the war memorial, The Paddock – the area immediately north of the Cathedral adjacent to the Old Minster and the Inner Close.

The cathedral has said that the ice rink will not be open this year as a part of its plan, with the food court being moved into the space it normally occupies to increase the standing area available.

“Although the area used will be close to three times the size of the usual market, the number of chalets will remain the same or below those of previous years. This increase in footprint will allow visitors to be spread out over a far wider area than has traditionally been the case,” the application says.

The market will take place between November 19 and December 22, with over 120 exhibitors attending across the 34 days in up to 112 chalets.

Set-up of the chalets will begin at the start of the second week of October in the Inner Close, with construction in the Outer Close delayed until after Remembrance Sunday.

The application continued: “Winchester Cathedral Christmas Market has become one of the leading Christmas markets in Europe and attracts many thousands of visitors from across the country and beyond.

“The benefits of working closely with the city ensure that a huge range of businesses across the city and beyond benefit from this uplift in trade.

“This year more than ever, it is important that this event that is central to the prosperity of some many local businesses is able to go ahead under a revised format.

“The cathedral will be a focal point within the community as we all heal and recover from the current situation, this will be more important than ever at Christmas time.”

Meanwhile other Christmas markets across the country including Bath and Lincoln have decided to cancel in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak.