When is the Science Centre open?

Winchester Science Centre is open seven days a week, excepting 24 - 26 December when it is closed.

Standard opening hours:

10am - 4pm Monday to Friday

10am - 5pm Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays

Look out for extended opening hours during Hampshire school holidays. These will be advertised on the main ticketing information webpage.

Evening lectures and events (including Saturday night planetarium shows) can be found on the the What's On guide.

There are occasional school days when the planetarium cinema is not available due to special events or private bookings.


How long should I plan to be in the Science Centre?

It depends on your stamina! Some people spend all day at the Science Centre but most probably spend about half a day, including a visit to the planetarium cinema. As well as the hand-on exhibits and the planetarium there are indoor and outdoor picnic areas, a café and a shop.

You might also like to explore the butterfly conservation area behind the centre and the outdoor play facilities.

Learn more! Why not download a free visitor worksheets linked to the exhibits and the curriculum in advance of your visit to enable deeper learning to take place. Look on the Free Visitor Worksheets page for a range of downloadable resources for a range of ages.


What does my admission ticket cover?

General Entry covers entry to the Hands-on Exhibition, which offers two floors of hands-on exhibits. There are often free events within the exhibition during school holiday periods; check the What's On guide for information.

The admission ticket does not include entry to the planetarium cinema, but it gives you a reduced rate when adding planetarium cinema shows to your visit.


Why is the planetarium not included in the admission ticket?

Not everyone wants to go into the planetarium (eg families with children under 5 yrs) so visitors have the choice rather than automatically adding this cost to every entry ticket. Also some people might want to see more than one show.

However, your ticket to the Hands-on Exhibition gives you a discount from the standalone price should you wish to add a planetarium show.


Can I just come to the planetarium cinema without paying for the exhibition?

Yes: any standard daytime show can be bought as a planetarium-only cinema ticket. Also Saturday Night at the Planetarium tickets and some special events are for the planetarium cinema only.

Please be aware that planetarium-only cinema tickets do not allow entry to the exhibition area.

For show times, prices and further information, see the planetarium schedule.


Can I advance-book tickets?

Yes - you can book online (discount available for online bookings), by phone on 01962 891925 during opening hours, or in person at the tills. There may be specific periods where pre-booking is not available, but these will be advertised on the website. 

Advance booking is also available if you are a school or other registered group (eg Brownies, Women's Institute).

If you would like to buy a ticket as a gift then the Science Centre can provide a gift voucher. The voucher will not have a specific date so the recipient can choose when to visit. Call 01962 891902 to arrange this.


Is Winchester Science Centre suitable for under-5s?

The exhibition is designed to be ideal for ages 5+, although younger children can have a fine time playing with the exhibits in a less structured way. Many parents appreciate having a safe, interesting environment in which their children can express their natural desire to explore. Steps are available for younger children to stand on, although toddlers may have to be lifted up to the level of some exhibits.

The planetarium cinema is not recommended for children under 5 yrs as the experience can be quite overwhelming, but if you'd like to bring them in then Chatterbox Shows are the best - these are special showings where children can chat or even call out without being asked to leave. Chatterbox Shows are available every day during holidays and weekends and are marked with a pink circle with a 'c' in the What's On guide.

On busy days (eg February & October half-terms, or rainy days during other holidays) the exhibition space can get quite busy and loud. The quietest times are usually school-day afternoons. Hampshire schools holiday dates can be found here.


Is there a café?

Yes, the café offers a variety of hot and cold food and drinks. 


Is there anywhere to eat a packed lunch?

Please feel free to bring a packed lunch with you: there is an outside picnic area (with tables) accessed from the café with views of the South Downs National Park.

There is also an indoor picnic area downstairs which visitors are welcome to use. Please note space is limited so at really busy times like half-term it may not be possible to provide enough room for all visitors. At all other times there should be sufficient space, unless there is a special event in the centre (eg World Space Week in October).

Please note the café needs its tables for customers so these are reserved for those eating café food only.


Can I be sure my favourite exhibit will be working?

All exhibits are checked by technicians every morning, seven days a week, and also a number of times throughout the day. A display board by the main entrance tells customers what percentage of exhibits are working that day.

The exhibits are designed to be robust (some have had nearly a million uses!) and the staff work hard to keep them functioning. However, as they have moving parts and are used by many visitors there will always be a point at which they need attention. Once an exhibit is reported as damaged it is allocated a technician who finds out what the fault is and will work that day to attempt to mend it. If new parts are required then these are ordered and the exhibit is taken out of use until it is ready.

If you find an exhibit that does not seem to work then please let the team know; they can then check whether the exhibit is damaged, or show you how to make it work. Any exhibit that is already known to be faulty will be clearly signed as such.

No hands-on science centre can guarantee all its exhibits will be functioning, but the Science Centre's average is 99% which given that there are over 150,000 visitors a year is pretty good.


How is the Science Centre funded?

Winchester Science Centre is an independent educational charity which does not receive subsidy from Winchester City Council or Hampshire County Council. The income generated from visitor admissions, the shop and corporate facility hire is used to cover running costs and to subsidise the work undertaken with schools.

Winchester Science Centre relies on fundraising to generate the money needed to develop new exhibits, to refurbish the ones already here, and to purchase new planetarium cinema shows.

If you or your organisation are able to offer any support then please get in touch!


What is Gift Aid?

If you are a UK taxpayer and you make a donation that is 10% more than the standard admission charge, then the Government will give the Science Centre an extra 25% on top of your donation. The government rules were changed from the previous systems, hence you are asked to add 10% to the standard admission charge: this is the same for all charities.

This extra income makes a massive difference to charitable attractions like Winchester Science Centre. The extra money goes towards the upkeep of the site, building and new developments. See 'How is the Science Centre funded?' for more information about the Science Centre's income streams.


What is STEMNET?

The term ‘STEM’ groups together the subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These are all interlinked in solving many of the challenges facing modern society.

Winchester Science Centre is the STEM contract holder for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. This means that Winchester Science Centre is able to give schools advice about the STEM enhancement and enrichment schemes with which they can become involved, and to inform them about local and national activities and help identify which opportunities can best inspire students in the STEM subjects. Winchester Science Centre also is able to provide a matchmaking service between schools and 800+ STEM ambassadors in Hampshire and IOW (volunteers who are either working in a STEM industry or have recently retired and wish to inspire students in their subject).


How can I become a volunteer at Winchester Science Centre?

There are a variety of volunteer opportunities available, especially during school holidays. If you would like to volunteer then please contact us, telling the Science Centre a little about your background/experience and when you might be available to help.


Can I buy a Gift Card?

Yes! Gift Cards can be purchased and pre-loaded with any sum of money you wish. Please call the reception team on 01962 863791 and they can help you with this. Please note Gift Card terms and conditions:

Winchester Science Centre Gift Card Terms & Conditions

  1. Validly activated gift cards purchased via Winchester Science Centre are redeemable in full or part payment for services or merchandise from Winchester Science Centre (Excluding the Chompers Cafe). Gift cards cannot be used for online bookings.
  2. Winchester Science Centre reserves the right to refuse the use of gift cards for specific one off events which are run at the centre.
  3. Winchester Science Centre gift cards may not be exchanged for cash, vouchers or as a deposit
  4. No change or refund will be given but any remaining balance may be applied to future purchases.
  5. The gift card will expire 24 months after the last use or balance enquiry and any remaining balance will be deducted.
  6. A Winchester Science Centre gift card remains the property of Winchester Science Centre.
  7. Winchester Science Centre gift cards are not cheque guarantee, credit or charge cards.
  8. Winchester Science Centre cannot be held liable for gift cards, once activated, which are subsequently lost, stolen, damaged or defaced.
  9. Winchester Science Centre reserves the right to amend these terms and conditions from time to time where it reasonably considers it necessary to do so (e.g. to change the scope of the gift card service, notify of the service's withdrawal or in the event of circumstances beyond its control). Reasonable notice of such changes will be given where possible.