Dickens on the Strand, the annual Victorian-style holiday festival transforming downtown’s historic district next weekend, offers more than just vibrant costumes and lively parades. The Galveston Historical Foundation’s flagship event, celebrating its 50th anniversary or Golden Jubilee this year, provides an opportunity to delve deep into the Victorian era’s rich tapestry. Beyond the mainstream attractions, we’ve uncovered some hidden gems within this expansive festival that may not always grab the spotlight but are certainly worth exploring. Additionally, we can’t help but emphasize its excellence as a one-stop destination for holiday shopping.
1. Short Story Contest:
While Dickens may not be a conventional literary festival, it boasts literary elements, including a short story contest open to Galveston schoolchildren aged 7 to 12. With a limit of 100 words, participants can choose from themes like Christmas, Pets, or Ghosts. Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, Charles’ great-great-great granddaughter and a celebrated author, will select two winners. Every entrant receives a free festival pass, while winners enjoy a carriage ride with Dickens descendants in one of the parades.
2. Fezziwig’s Friday Night:
For a reasonable entry fee of $25 (regular tickets) or $100 (VIP), attendees can experience this recent addition named after Scrooge’s amiable former employer in “A Christmas Carol.” The expanded Fezziwig’s Beer Hall, hosted by Charles Dickens himself, offers hearty ales and period musical performances. As a bonus, the festival includes a Saint Arnold’s Architectural Walking Tour for $35.
3. Canterbury Theatre of Varieties:
For an additional $60, indulge in an evening of Victorian finery and frivolity on both Friday and Saturday at the Buckingham Palace VIP area. Expect surprise elements reminiscent of London’s late 19th-century music hall, with speciality acts promising an unforgettable experience.
4. All the World’s a Stage:
Dive into the diverse performances on the festival’s seven stages scattered around, showcasing everything from high-school choirs to circus troupes, fife-and-drum bands, jugglers, a cappella singers, madrigals, and even an Edgar Allan Poe impersonator. Explore the festival map/schedule for a comprehensive guide to the array of entertainment.
5. Elevenses on the Pier:
Join Polly Olivia Boyd, another of Dickens’ great-great-great granddaughters, for this quintessentially British tradition. For an extra $60, savor light refreshments with tea or coffee against the picturesque backdrop of the 1877 Elissa, a square-rigged iron barque and National Historic Landmark. Online registration is required for this exclusive event.
6. Victorian Bed Races:
Stick around until the festival’s climactic conclusion to witness the most thrilling event – the Victorian Bed Races. Teams of four, appropriately costumed, push a rider on rolling beds decorated and themed after Victorian Christmas. With a midway costume switch, this 700-foot spectacle promises excitement until the very end.
As Dickens on the Strand commemorates its 50th year, these lesser-known facets add depth and variety to an already captivating celebration of Victorian charm.