THE boxing gloves are off as Salisbury goes head to head with Winchester in the battle to win Christmas shoppers.

A billboard advertising Winchester’s festive market has gone up in Castle Street, Salisbury, so the city’s businesses have hit back with their own huge poster in the heart of Winchester.

Ian Newman, chairman of Salisbury City Centre Management, said: “Last year the city’s business community told us that we needed a Christmas market to help attract more people to the city in the all-important run up to Christmas.

“We have listened to them and have pulled out all the stops to bring a market to Salisbury this year.”

The advert in Winchester, funded by City Centre Management and Visit Wiltshire, is near the city’s railway station and five minutes from the High Street.

The battle of the billboards comes as the two medieval cities try to entice Christmas shoppers and their cash.

It will be the first time Salisbury has had a Christmas market and business leaders in the city are determined it will be a success.

One of the main aims of the market is to bring a substantial boost to the local economy by attracting thousands of new visitors to the city who might not otherwise have considered visiting Salisbury to do their shopping.

The Christmas market will have 55 decorated wooden chalets selling high quality gifts, food and drink, and there will also be entertainment each day.

The event is set to be a major community event, with 18 local charities sharing a chalet to promote themselves and sell their goods each day.

Help for Heroes will have a chalet for 18 days and Well Child, a charity for sick children, will be supported through the Father Christmas grotto.

There will also be performances by 17 school choirs, eight adult choirs, one silver band, one brass band, two military wives choirs, one quintet, two big bands, one church choir and a youth orchestra.

And schoolchildren, Scouts, Guides, Cubs and Brownies have been getting involved, making paper lanterns for the opening night lantern procession next Thursday.

The market will be in the Guildhall Square from Thursday, November 29 to December 16.

The Christmas market will normally be open from 10am to 6pm every day but opening times will be extended to 7pm on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.