A year in review: 2023

As we reach the end of another year, delve into a 2023 mosaic as we reflect on the past 12 months — a year of impressive exhibitions, compelling live performances, wonderful heritage experiences and incredible social impact work.


In January, we said 'three cheers' to the Westy Beer Festival at the West End Centre in Aldershot. The event sampled a selection of 50 ales and ciders from some of the finest breweries in the UK, as well as delicious hot food and brilliant live music.

A sold out event in 2023, we're thrilled to be welcoming the Westy Beer Festival back in 2024 for the 10th anniversary event!

The Westy Beer Festival 2024 | West End Centre
Join us in celebrating TEN YEARS of the Westy Beer Festival with 50 cask ales and ciders from some of the finest Breweries across the UK, plus live music and food - what better wa


In February, we welcomed Shoes: Inside Out to the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery in Basingstoke. The exhibition showcased historic shoes and boots from Hampshire Cultural Trust’s nationally important collection with a small selection having been specially X-rayed – displayed alongside the corresponding shoe to uncover their construction, developments in design, or reveal an ethereal reminiscence of a life lived.

We were pleased to be able to bring Shoes: Inside Out to The Arc, Winchester - which will be on display until March 2024.

Shoes: Inside Out | The Arc Winchester – arts, reading and community
From the functional and practical to the fashionable and extravagant, shoes have played an intriguing role in our social history and modern lives.


In March, submissions opened for the Hampshire Young Poets competition, in partnership with the Winchester Poetry Festival. Overall, 2023's competition received 160 submissions from both individuals and schools and from all four corners of the county, from Fareham to Romsey, Waterlooville, Southampton, Andover, Basingstoke and Winchester.

The competition was open to young people who live or study in Hampshire in three age categories, 4 - 7, 8 - 11 and 12 - 16 years. The winning submissions can be read on our website.

Hampshire Young Poets 2023 | Hampshire Cultural Trust
THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED Theme: HOME Open to young people across Hampshire in three age categories:4 to 7 years | 8 to 11 years | 12 to 16 years

The search for Hampshire’s next poet laureate has begun (December 2023) – if you'd like to judge the next Hampshire Young Poets competition as the next Hampshire Poet, discover more below!

The search for Ham


In Easter, we hopped into spring with a series of family-friendly fun for all!

April marked Basing House's first Easter Egg Hunt, a fun-filled family event that we hope will become a staple in the seasonal programme of Basingstoke. We welcomed hundreds of families who explored the historic estate in a unique way, as they searched high and low to discover hundreds of eggs that we had hidden in every nook and cranny!

We're excited to see what 2024 will bring for the historic site, after sold-out Ghost Walks in October and unprecedented visitor and trade numbers at the Christmas Fayre in late November!


In May, Our Windrush Story opened at the Willis Museum and Sainsbury Gallery. We were proud to partner with the Basingstoke Caribbean Society and Friends, and Cultural Diversity Consortium, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the significant national event - HMT Empire Windrush's arrival at Tilbury docks in June 1948. The exhibition explored the journeys and the challenges the passengers faced starting new lives, recognising the contributions of the Windrush generation who have lived, worked and raised families in Basingstoke.

In October, we were honoured to have been chosen as 2023 Champion for Black History Month by the Basingstoke Cultural Diversity Consortium for the exhibition.

The voices of a generation: Our Windrush Story at the Willis Museum | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Our Windrush Story, a new exhibition sharing the powerful stories of B


In June, we attended Winchester Hat Fair with the ICE Heritage Floating Exhibition, which celebrates the creativity of young people across Hampshire and champions the positive impact art and creativity has on mental health. The hot air balloon showcases over 100 pieces of artwork by young people on the ICE Heritage project and Hampshire schools who have contributed artwork celebrating 75 years of the NHS, in partnership with Hampshire CAMHS.

The concept for the hot air balloon was inspired by the participants on the ICE Heritage project; a metaphor for overcoming mental health difficulties and gaining new perspectives on self and environment. Participants reflected on creative ways to raise awareness and museum facilitators involved in the project provided research into the heritage of balloons used in Hampshire in the mid-century. The balloon was designed by ICE Heritage Creative Champions through a series a workshops with artist, Jono Retallick.


In July, we saw the opening of two exciting exhibitions - Sandstories at Gosport Museum and Art Gallery, and Wash Days at Milestones Museum in Basingstoke.

Sandstories was inspired by ideas from the local community. An impressive 20 tonnes of sand was transformed into a unique 3D scene celebrating Gosport’s beautiful peninsula location – from the skyline to the bottom of the sea.

From sand to land, the Wash Days' install brought Milestones' social and domestic history collections to life, as a nod to our previous exhibition, Collections Corner. The exhibition remains on display until Spring 2024.

Wash Day exhibition | Milestones Museum
Discover the extraordinary in the everyday with our brand new Wash Day exhibition. From domestic living to household gems, what will you find?


In August, we saw a busy period at Hampshire Wardrobe preparing for Goodwood Revival. From '40s military to the swinging sixties, the Wardrobe boasts a fantastic range of styles and sizes available to suit all of your event and party needs - perfect for an event like Goodwood Revival!

Located in Winchester, our knowledgeable and friendly staff are on hand to help with styling advice so that you can find your perfect Revival outfit from our stock of original vintage and retro costume. Do you have an upcoming event? Consider Hampshire Wardrobe for all of your vintage and retro attire needs!

Hampshire Wardrobe | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Not your average dressing up box! Established in 1978 with a collection of costumes from the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, Hampshire Wardrobe now has over 10,000 items in our Winchester store. From ancient times to the 1980s you’re sure to find the perfect outfit for your production or special event.

The summer also saw a busy period for weddings at Basing House - our beautiful, rustic barn welcomed a number of couples tying the knot...and their pawfect pals, too!

Weddings at Basing House | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Many congratulations on your engagement and thank you for considering Basing House as your wedding venue. Set in heart of the picturesque village of Old Basing next to the River Loddon are the remains of Basing House. The perfect setting for a beautiful and peaceful wedding celebration. The romantic ruins, charming Jacobean Knot Garden, the Tudor Great Barn and nearby river walk offer the perfect backdrop to create the most stunning memorable wedding and plenty of opportunities for gorgeous photographs.


In September, it was confirmed that we would receive a grant of £200,000 from The Engert Watford Motor Museum to repair and restore three vehicles over three years in the industrial heritage collection we care for: The Little Giant, a Thornycroft J Type and a Morrison Electricar.

Once restored, the vehicles will be on permanent display or travel to selected events in the community!

Historically significant vehicles to undergo restoration thanks to £200,000 grant | Hampshire Cultural Trust
£200,000 grant will fund restoration of three historically significant veh


In October, City Museum celebrated 120 years since its 1903 completion as the first purpose-built museum outside of London, of which Alderman Jacob was instrumental in developing. Visitor Experience Assistant, Ellie, looked back on the last 120 years of the museum's history.

Celebrating 120 years of City Museum
This October, Winchester Museum celebrates 120 years since its 1903 completion as the first purpose-built museum outside of London. Discover 120 years of the museum’s history on #CultureOnCall!


In November, 878 AD celebrated its first anniversary with a series of award victories (and a bowl of delicious Anglo-Saxon honey cakes)!

The team behind Winchester’s newest visitor attraction, Anglo-Saxon experience 878

November also saw the start of Aldershot Military Museum vehicle restoration project, with a team of dedicated volunteers leading on the restoration of a series of armoured vehicles at the museum within our collections. We can't wait to see how this project develops into 2024!


In December, we saw the exciting announcement that Hampshire Cultural Trust will take on responsibility for running The Great Hall from spring 2024, with a vision to bring the city’s historic castle back to life as an integrated visitor destination!

Exciting development plans for Winchester’s historic Great Hall and Castle | Hampshire Cultural Trust
Exciting plans for investing in Winchester’s cultural offer are o

This month has also seen a wonderful, varied programme of festive-themed events, with trails, markets, live performances, workshops and so much more to mark the 'most wonderful time of the year'!

We'd like to take the opportunity to thank you for all of your support in 2023, and we can't wait to see what the next twelve months bring for Hampshire.

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