Galveston’s 37th Annual Dickens on The Strand Victorian Holiday Festival Set for This Weekend, Saturday, December 4 and Sunday, December 5
Festival to Unveil Wide Array of New Events Including Alternative Victorian “Steampunk” Bazaar, Circus, Street Ball
Galveston’s Dickens on The Strand, an annual holiday street festival filled with costumes, music, food and wares based on 19th-century Victorian London, is set for this weekend, Saturday, December 4 and Sunday, December 5 in Galveston's restored historic downtown. Festival organizers anticipate the favorable weather forecast and the unveiling of many new events will bring pre-Ike sized crowds back to the 37-year-old street festival.
The Dickens festival is always held the first weekend in December in a 10-square-block area of Galveston’s historic downtown. Festival gates are open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Guests who wear Victorian costumes receive half-price admission at the gate. Tickets to the festival and all related special events are available online at www.galvestonhistory.org. Festival Tickets are also available at all area Kroger food stores.
Headlining the lineup of new festival events is Airship Isabella, an alternative Victorian “Steampunk” group of performers who will host an edgy bazaar, circus and street ball. Besides the Steampunk performances, other new festival offerings include Albert’s Whimsical Whisker Revue—a facial hair contest with the following categories: Rip Van Winkle (best full beard), Most Impressive Picadilly Weepers (sideburns), Finest Gatter Soaker (moustache), Noblest Toff (best groomed), and Hairiest Maiden in the Land (ladies). The facial hair contest will be judged by members of the Austin Facial Hair Club www.austinfacialhairclub.com and will be held Saturday afternoon directly following the traditional costume contests.
Her Majesty’s Royal Romp, A Race Fit for a Queen—is a new event inspired by an old Monty Python video (see original at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktYMkxD0Fzc). In the Galveston version, contestants dressed as Queen Victoria will race down Mechanic Street through an obstacle course.
Dodger’s Artful Lane is a new section of the festival where art students create a chalk London on Galveston’s streets. Oliver’s Alley is a new children’s area that will feature Victorian games; a monster mural and Scrooge’s Scavenger Hunt.
Christmas at The Oaks, Saturday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. will highlight the new Menard Hall and the expansion and improvement of the grounds and facilities adjacent to the historic Menard House. This event, at $15 per person, features an open house with Christmas quilts courtesy of the Island Quilters Guild adorning the candlelit historic house. There will also be continuous entertainment and light refreshments at the new Menard Hall.
Besides all the new offerings, many of the festival’s old favorite features are being revamped. Dinner with Dickens will be held at Ashton Villa, the oldest mansion on Broadway, with the entire main floor open during the event. During dessert, Lucinda Dickens Hawksley will speak about the impact of “A Christmas Carol” on holiday celebrations across the world since its publication. Festival goers may also meet Hawksley at the Dickens Country Breakfast scheduled for both Saturday and Sunday mornings at Garten Verein.
The popular Victorian Bed Race, introduced at last year’s Dickens festival, will be held again this year. Voted best new event in its budget category in the International Festivals and Event Association competition in September, the bed race features teams of contestants wearing Victorian sleeping attire pushing Victorian-dressed beds on wheels down Galveston’s Mechanic Street as onlookers cheer. Interested in forming a team? Go to www.galvestonhistory.org/Dickens_Victorian_Bed_Races.asp
Other festival highlights include parades, non-stop entertainment on five stages, strolling carolers and roving musicians, bagpipers, jugglers and a host of other entertainers plus a snow yard for children. Costumed vendors will 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.
For a full list of festival highlights, go to www.galvestonhistory.org/Dickens_Festival_Highlights.asp
For a full list of separately ticketed special events, go to www.galvestonhistory.org/Dickens_Special_Events.asp
For more information about the Steampunk movement, go to www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1945343,00.html
For more information about the Dickens headline Steampunk performers Airship Isabella, go to www.airshipisabellaproductions.com/
Advance tickets are $9 for adults and $4 for children 7 to 12. They are available online and must be purchased on or before Dec. 3 for advance discount. Tickets at the gate are $12 for adults and $6 for children 7-12. Children 6 and under enter free. Go to www.galvestonhistory.org for full ticket information or to sign up online to volunteer at the festival. For groups of 20 or more, please call 409-765-3409.