COWfest 2023 – What's on offer?

This year, COWfest takes place on Saturday 11 February and the festival will have a hub at the ARC on Jewry Street with additional free activities offered at several venues across the city centre. There's plenty to do, so take a look at what's on offer, below.

We are most grateful for the support of Winchester BID, which has made this year's event possible and means we can continue to offer all COWfest activities for FREE to local children.


PLEASE REMEMBER – if you book a free ticket for an activity session and you can't make it, please let the venue know so they can release it for someone else!



Jewry Street, Winchester SO23 8SB

9.45-10.30 Relax Kids: 3–5 years PRE-BOOK HERE

10.45-11.30 Relax Kids: 6–10 years PRE-BOOK HERE

What to expect in a Relax Kids session – music and movement, fun mindfulness games, stretches, self and peer massage, child friendly breathing techniques, positive self-talk and affirmations, story visualisations, LOTS OF FUN and tips to relax :-) To be held in the ARC Performance Hall.

10.00-10.45 Moo Music: 18 months–4 years PRE-BOOK HERE

Moosical fun involving action songs with instruments, props and puppets. Moo Music is a creative and interactive music and movement session with over 100 fantastic songs written for it by professional children's song writer, Craig McLeish, who has also worked on hit West End shows like Les Miserables and Miss Saigon as well as many television favourites. Each class is cleverly designed to develop vital language, memory and co-ordination skills. Because Moo Music has been developed with the help of teachers and child development specialists, parents can be sure that their children are benefitting from a first-rate educational experience while they are moving and grooving! To be held in the ARC Learning Room.

10.00-12.00 Mimosa Montessori art and craft: all ages DROP IN

Crafty creations! Children and parents are welcome to drop in and make a paper creation together – will it be an animal, a robot, a dancer, or something abstract? All materials are provided to create your own artworks to take home. Just bring your ideas and get ready to be creative! To be held in the ARC Community Space.

10.00-12.30 Anglo-Saxon games: all ages DROP IN

Learn Viking Chess with a real Anglo-Saxon! One of the Anglo-Saxon locals from 878 AD has been let loose on the streets of Winchester and challenges you to a game of Taefl. They will teach you how to play the game, and can even teach you a little bit of Anglo-Saxon history as well! Will you be able to beat the best and take the crown of Taefl Champion? Our Anglo-Saxon will be available at the ARC in the morning and at Winchester City Museum in the afternoon (from 13.30–16.00).

10.00-13.00 Community Connections: all ages DROP IN

To be held in the study space behind adult fiction. Open to all sanctuary seekers for a chat, helpful information and signposting.

11.00 Storytime: ages under 5 DROP IN

To be held in the Children’s Library area. Parents/carers must remain with their child during this session.

11.30-12.30 Baby Massage: 6 weeks–6 months PRE-BOOK HERE

A calming session for babies, with Little Buds Nurture Hub. This session is a fantastic way to experience what it is like bonding with baby doing some gorgeous baby massage! It's the perfect way to help soothe and settle baby, to help with trapped wind and colic, and just to have some time to rest, relax and reset. The session will be calm and relaxed – and of course there will be lots of time to have some cuddles with baby, too! To be held in the ARC Learning Room.

12.00-14.00 District Sports inclusive and gentle sports: all ages DROP IN

Have a go at Boccia and New Age Kurling – both are easy to learn and play, for anyone of any age or mobility! The friendly coaches from District Sports will show you the ropes at this relaxed drop-in session. Turn up any time between 12pm and 2pm. To be held in the ARC Performance Hall.

12.00-16.00 Construction Club: ages 4+ DROP IN

To be held in the Children’s Library area. Come along any time between 12pm and 4pm, to play and build with lego! Parents/carers to remain in the library.

13.30-16.00 Climate Change crafting: all ages DROP IN

Get crafty with the children's library team and explore the theme of climate change. To be held in the ARC Community Space.

14.30-15.10 Treasure Gymnastics toddler gym: 2–3 years (with parent/carer assistance) PRE-BOOK HERE

15.15-16.00 Treasure Gymnastics toddler gym: 3–4 years (with parent/carer observation) PRE-BOOK HERE

Whether you see your little one as a future gymnast, rugby player or academic, the skills developed in Preschool gymnastics are invaluable! The ABC of movement (Agility, Balance and Co-ordination) once developed can be transferred to many other areas of life. We encourage our Little Treasures to take controlled risks to challenge their physical abilities and develop. Climbing, jumping, movement patterns and falling safely are all key elements of our programmes – with traditional handstands and cartwheels, too! Give it all a try at a free taster session as part of COWfest 2023. To be held in the ARC Performance Hall.

15.00-16.00 DoDo Dramatics puppet-making: 7–11 years PRE-BOOK HERE

DoDo Dramatics 'Heroes of the Sea': in this craft workshop suitable for children aged 7 to 11, participants will be able to make their very own sea creature puppet. This is a zero-waste craft session, meaning everything we use to create these magical ocean dwellers will be entirely pre-used materials, such as plastic bags, cardboard and bottle caps. To be held in the ARC Learning Room.

ALL DAY in the City Space gallery on the ARC mezzanine. 

Exhibition – ‘From One Place to Another’: all ages DROP IN

This exhibition is a collection of work created with the Winchester City of Sanctuary community including families, young people and partners. The work draws on a number of themes explored in Chagall’s ‘A Farewell To Art’ exhibition including journeys, families, love and loss. This exhibition provides an opportunity for people within the community to share their experience through their own narratives, visual and symbolic art, as well as connecting with historical collections. It hopes to provide a calm space for people to reflect and to build up a new community collective narrative.

Origami making – boats and cranes: all ages DROP IN

Inspired by local artist Hiromi Mangano’s ‘1602 Origami Peace Cranes’ created with people all over Winchester and exhibited in the ARC as part of ‘From One Place to Another’. Have a go at making your own origami boat or crane, and add it to the ARC community display. Origami paper and instructions provided (in English, Ukrainian, Pashto and Arabic).



P&G Wells – 11 College Street, Winchester SO23 9LZ

P&G Wells are planning an exciting day of free author events for children as part of this year’s COWfest. All events can be booked via Ticketsource here and will take place upstairs in our shop at 11 College Street on Saturday 11th February. Please note, all children attending need to have a responsible adult (parent/carer) remain on site throughout the event.

**SPECIAL COWFEST DISCOUNT**  Get 10% off children's, teen and YA books bought in the P&G Wells shop on 11th February if you mention the code 'COWfest'.

10.00-11.00 Creative writing workshop with Jo Clarke: ages 8-12 years PRE-BOOK HERE

Jo Clarke is the author of The Travelling School Mysteries series, Libby and the Parisian Puzzle and Libby and the Highland Heist. If you want to learn how to plot the perfect crime, create your own detective characters and understand how you can use clues to help your reader solve the mystery, then join Jo in this fun and interactive writing workshop. Numbers are limited for this workshop, and booking is essential.

The workshop will last 1 hour and afterwards Jo Clarke will be signing her books, Libby and the Parisian Puzzle and Libby and the Highland Heist. Contact P&G Wells if you want to pre-order your copies.

13.30 Reading and drawing activity with Zosienka: ages 3-7 years PRE-BOOK HERE

Author and illustrator Zosienka will give a reading and lead a drawing activity based around her beautiful picture book The Moon Keeper (as read by Christine and the Queens as the CBeebies Bedtime Story on New Year’s Day).

15.00 Reading and collage activity with Margaret Sturton: ages 5-8 years PRE-BOOK HERE

Author and illustrator Margaret Sturton will read from her books, A Fox Called Herbert and Two Can Play, and encourage children to get hands-on and make a collage.


AGC Museum – Peninsula Barracks, Romsey Road, Winchester SO23 8TS

ALL DAY from 10.00 to 17.00 (last entry 16.15). All ages. FREE museum entry and children's trail with a special craft activity between 10.30 and 15.00. Addy the Lion is lonely visiting the AGC Museum by himself! Help Addy by making your own handprint lion and find Addy hidden around the museum in our trail.


City Museum – The Square, Winchester SO23 9ES

ALL DAY from 10.00 to 17.00. All ages. FREE museum entry for children on the day of COWfest, along with a children's trail and craft activities. From 13.30 to 16.00, you can even learn Viking Chess! One of the Anglo-Saxon locals from 878 AD has been let loose on the streets of Winchester and challenges you to a game of Taefl. They will teach you how to play the game, and can even teach you a little bit of Anglo-Saxon history as well! Will you be able to beat the best and take the crown of Taefl Champion?


Westgate Museum – High Street, Winchester SO23 9AP

ALL DAY from 10.00 to 16.00. All ages. FREE museum entry for children on the day of COWfest – and have a go at brass rubbing.


Winchester Sports and Leisure Park – Bar End Road, Winchester SO23 9NR 

All free COWfest activities to be booked at the reception from Saturday 4 February onwards (in person or via 01962 848700) – with drop-in available on the day if space allows.

10.15-11.00 and 11.15-12.00 Active Antz: Under 5 years

Designed to give you and your child time to play and learn from each other, Active Antz encourages you and your child to try a variety of activities. Wear suitable clothing but shoes are not needed! The session is supervised but not led, and parents are required to take part and supervise their child.

15.00-15.45 and 16.00-16.45 Top Rock Climbing: Ages 4 to 18

We have 16 colourful walls with multiple routes to their peaks. All routes use an auto-belay, meaning climbers just need to harness up, clip on and climb! Climbers must be at least 4 years old and weigh 10kg.


Winchester Baptist Church, City Road, Winchester SO23 8SD

14.00-14.45 Jiggy Wrigglers: ages up to 5 years PRE-BOOK HERE

Jiggy Wrigglers' dance and movement classes offer an engaging combination of music, dance and creative activities to stimulate and entertain both you and your children! You won't be able to resist shaking your legs and having the time of your life with your little one.


Abbey Gardens, The Broadway, Winchester SO23 9BE

ALL DAY Enchanted Light Garden: All ages – this opens on the day of COWfest, so after your day of activities head down to Abbey Gardens as night falls for some magical displays!

Abbey Gardens will become a magical Enchanted Light Garden from 11 February until 5 March, with displays of light-up tunnels, fairytale creatures and flowery delights. Access to see the lights is free of charge. The best time to see the lights will be as night falls, but daytime visitors will still be able to enjoy the displays enhancing the natural beauty of their surroundings.



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