Dickens on the Strand, A Holiday Tradition: Dec. 1st-3rd

Make history at Galveston’s world-famous Victorian holiday festival, Dickens on The Strand! Held December 1st-3rd, the 44th annual festival is produced by Galveston Historical Foundation and is a holiday tradition with great family programming, special holiday performances, and newly created events all weekend long. This year’s festival begins Friday, December 1st with free admission to the kick off event, Fezziwig’s Beer Hall, 5-9pm; and continues with ticketed admission Saturday, December 2nd 10am-9pm, and Sunday, December 3rd 12 noon-6pm.

If you haven’t gotten your tickets to this year’s event, there’s no time like the present! Advanced tickets are discounted until December 1st and are $13 for adults and $7 for children ages 7-12. Tickets purchased at the gate are $15 for adults and $9 for youth. Discounted tickets for GHF members are available for $10 in advance or $12 at the gate. Tickets are available online at dickensonthestrand.org, by calling (409)765-7834, or at all area Randall’s stores beginning November 5th. Attendees in Victorian costume will be admitted for $8. Many of this year’s special events, concerts, and tours have limited seating, so get your tickets early.

“Our 2017 Dickens on The Strand promises to be a welcomed celebration away from the events of the early fall,” states GHF Executive Director, Dwayne Jones. “With renewed interest and focus on Charles Dickens, we hope to inform visitors more about this great writer, but also to have a lot of fun. Visitors of all ages will be met with street entertainers, musicians, and special events to kick off our holiday season on the Gulf Coast. Whether you have been to Dickens before or it’s your first time, the annual holiday festival will bring cheer and delight to the entire family. Join us again as we return to the historic downtown Strand and celebrate our holiday amidst Galveston’s great architecture and heritage.”

The annual holiday street festival, based on 19th-century Victorian London, features parades, non-stop entertainment on multiple stages, strolling carolers, roving musicians, bagpipers, jugglers, and a host of other entertainers. Costumed vendors peddle their wares from street stalls and rolling carts laden with holiday food and drink, Victorian-inspired crafts, clothing, jewelry, holiday decorations, and gift items.

Three descendants of Charles Dickens will grace the festival as GHF welcomes Mark Charles Dickens, a great-great-grandson; Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, a great-great-great-granddaughter; and Jane Dickens Monk, a great-great-granddaughter. All descendants will be at numerous events throughout the weekend.

“Returning to Galveston for Dickens on the Strand is a very exciting prospect, not least because this year I’ll be launching my new book, ‘Dickens and Christmas,’ at the festival,” says Lucinda Dickens Hawksley. “I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and to making new ones, as well as to discover what new activities GHF has planned for us. This year, there’ll be three members of the Dickens family present, so come and say hello!”

New In 2017

A Dickens Soiree at the 1892 Bishop’s Palace – Featuring specialty acts, award-winning performers, and carefully curated food and drink options, this new kickoff to the annual festival is not to be missed! Held at the breathtaking 1892 Bishop’s Palace on Friday, December 1st, attendees will enjoy live music by Houston’s Two Star Symphony, a special acrobatics presentation by Cirque La Vie, and appearances by special guests including a reading by Mark Charles Dickens, great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens. Tickets are $75 and reservations are required.

Dickens Costume Contest – What fun is a Dickens festival if you don’t have the characters? This new addition to the wildly popular costume contests puts the focus squarely on the beloved characters from Dickens’ literary works. Held on Sunday, December 3rd at 3pm, and judged by the visiting Dickens descendants, registration will be open for individual and family costumes. Registration is $10 for individuals and $15 for families. Interested competitors can sign up at the costume contest booth.

Saturday Night Showing of “The Muppet Christmas Carol” – It’s been called the greatest puppet-based holiday film of all time, and at this year’s Dickens on The Strand, guests can catch a free showing of “The Muppet Christmas Carol” on Saturday night. Free for all attendees, the holiday classic will show at 7:30pm on Saturday night. The Muppets perform the classic Dickens holiday tale, with Kermit the Frog playing Bob Cratchit, the put-upon clerk of stingy Ebenezer Scrooge (Michael Caine). Other Muppets, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, and Sam the Eagle, weave in and out of the story, while Scrooge receives visits from spirits of three Christmases: past, present, and future. They show him the error of his self-serving ways, but the miserable old man seems to be past any hope of redemption and happiness.

Returning Favorites

Breakfast with Dickens – The great-great-granddaughter of Charles Dickens, Jane Monk, isn’t just coming to this year’s event to take in the sights and share her heritage, she’s also there to cook a traditional English breakfast. Join Jane and an award-winning chef at the beautiful 1859 Ashton Villa on Saturday, December 2nd or Sunday, December 3rd. Tickets are $60 and reservations are required.

Fezziwig’s Friday Night – Mr. Fezziwig was everything Ebenezer wasn’t, and we pay tribute to his jovial personality at the Fezziwig’s Beer Hall. Join in Friday evening, December 1st, 5-9pm for specialty acts, hearty brews, and new friends all hosted by Dickens descendant Jane Monk. There will also be a specialty cocktail chosen from Cedric Dickens’ book “Drinking With Dickens.” Admission is free for this lively start to the 44th anniversary.

Dickens Children’s Writing Contest – Could you be the next Dickens? This year’s festival will give you the chance to ride in a carriage with both of the Dickens descendants if your story is the winning selection. Lucinda Dickens Hawksley will personally select two stories, one from a 7-9 age range and one from a 10-12 range, for the winner to accompany them as their special guest during a Dickens parade. Stories are limited to 100 words and can be on one of three topics. Details and submissions are at dickensonthestrand.org.

Victorian Bed Races – Fortune and glory await one lucky team at the 2017 Dickens on The Strand! The annual Victorian Bed Race, held Sunday, December 3rd at 4:30pm is always a crowd favorite and pits 5-person teams against each other for a foot race down Galveston’s historic streets. Complete rules and regulations are available online. Awards will be given to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams as well as a special crowd favorite award for the best-decorated bed.

Oliver’s Alley Children’s Area – Children by the thousands come each year to the parades, petting zoo, and more. This year’s event will feature an expanded Oliver’s Alley children’s area, presented by the Galveston Children’s Museum, where specialty programs and events will be scheduled all weekend long.

Festival Highlights

The festival weekend also hosts a multitude of spirited fun with events such as the crowd favorite Whimsical Whisker Revue, a facial hair contest for the bearded and the dandy, the Dickens Victorian Bed Races, Victorian Costume Contest, and daily parades through Galveston’s National Historic Landmark Strand District.

Also, daily special events include:

Saturday, December 2nd (4:30pm) – Salute To Sunset Aboard the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA – The Texas Seaport Museum transforms to a London wharf for this toast to the end of the day and beginning of the evening. The Tall Ship ELISSA welcomes you aboard for heavy appetizers, cocktails, cannon fire, and special guests leading up to Saturday night’s Pickwick’s Lanternlight Parade. Tickets are $50 per person and reservations are required.

Friday, December 1st (5:30pm, 7pm and 8:30pm) – Holiday Handbell Concerts – The 1859 St. Joseph’s Church, the state’s first wooden built church, well known for its exceptional acoustics, hosts three holiday handbell concerts. Tickets are $15 per person and reservations are required.

Friday, December 1st (7pm), Saturday, December 2nd (11am and 4:30pm), and Sunday, December 3rd (3pm) – Saint Arnold’s Strand Walking Tours – Learn about the history of The Strand and enjoy some of Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s signature ales during this new tour. You’ll visit three festival pubs as you walk through the National Historic Landmark district with your guide. Tickets are $35 per person and include three complimentary beers. Advanced registration encouraged.

For more info on Dickens on The Strand, Galveston Historical Foundation, or to purchase advance tickets, go to galvestonhistory.org or call (409)765-7834. For more festival info, contact Will Wright, Director of Communications and Special Events at (409)765-3404 or will.wright@galvestonhistory.org.