Embrace Victorian London at the 44th Dickens on the Strand in Galveston

dickens-on-the-strand-2019
Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation

Rekindle the spirit of Charles Dickens’ Victorian London at the 44th annual Dickens on the Strand in Historic Downtown Galveston from Friday, December 1 through Sunday, December 3, 2017.

Channeling 19th century Victorian London, Galveston’s annual, weekend-long, holiday street festival features parades, non-stop live entertainment on multiple streets, strolling carolers, roving musicians, bagpipers, jugglers, and a host of other entertainers and costumed revelers. Oh, and you can join the show too, if you’d like.

First-time visitors to Dickens on the Strand will likely be shocked at just how whole-heartedly the people of Galveston embrace this annual holiday tradition. Returnees revel in it.

People dress up in their Dickensian finest (or their most raggedy duds if they’re going for a working class look) and take to the streets to shop, eat, party, parade, and have a great time.

Dickens on the Strand | Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation

Although London’s Victorian era is the focal point, don’t be surprised to see variations, including steampunk attire, nods to Doctor Who, dusters from the old West, and more.

As you explore, you’ll encounter costumed vendors peddling their wares from street stalls and rolling carts laden with holiday food and drink, Victorian-inspired crafts, clothing, jewelry, holiday decorations, and other gift items.
Salute to Sunset Onboard the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA

Select Featured Events at Dickens on the Strand 2017

Dickens on the Strand weekend is jam-packed with events, activities, parades, celebrations, parties, costume contests, feasts, and more. Seriously, you can’t walk three feet without coming across entertainment, planned or otherwise.

But there are some highlights. Here are some of the key events and happenings, including several new additions for 2017.

Friday, December 1, 2017

  • Fezziwig’s Friday Night | FREE – In A Christmas Carol, jovial Mr. Fezziwig was everything Ebenezer Scrooge was not. His jovial personality makes for the perfect host at Fezziwig’s Beer Hall. On Friday night, admission is free. There will be speciality acts, hearty brews, and more, all hosted by Dickens descendant Jane Monk. There will also be a featured specialty cocktail, chosen from Cedric Dickens’ book Drinking With Dickens. 5pm to 9pm.
  • Holiday Handbell Concerts at the 1859 St. Joseph’s Church – Known for its amazing acoustics, the church opens its doors for three special handbell concerts highlighting holiday and Dickensian-era classics. These shows usually sell out in advance. $15. 5:30pm, 7pm, and 8:30pm. Click here to order tickets.
  • A Dickens Soiree at the 1892 Bishop’s Palace – A new addition to the Dickens lineup, this dinner and mixer is the formal kickoff to the weekend’s festivities. Over a carefully curated food and drink selection at the striking 1892 Bishop’s Palace, guests will be entertained with live music from 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. $75. Reservations required. 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Click here to order tickets.
  • Saint Arnold’s Strand Walking Tour – Learn about the history of the Strand National Historic Landmark District and enjoy some of Saint Arnold’s signature ales. Guests get three beer tokens good for complimentary brews, while learning about the rich history of The Strand and the people, places, and stories of early Galveston’s incredible history. $35. 7pm. Click here to order tickets.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

  • Saint Arnold’s Strand Walking Tours – Explore the Strand National Historic Landmark District while sipping some of Saint Arnold’s signature ales. $35. 11am and 4:30pm. Click here to order tickets.
  • The Queen’s Parade in Historic Downtown – The royal procession makes its first of two runs, featuring old-timey high wheel bicycles, marching bagpipe corps, carriages with Victorian-appropriate passengers, costumed fest-goers, old school pirates, appearances by Queen Victoria and Father Christmas, plus other local characters. Included with admission. 2pm.
  • Salute to Sunset Onboard the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA – The Texas Seaport Museum transforms to a London wharf for a toast to the end of the day and beginning of the evening. The Tall Ship ELISSA welcomes guests onboard for heavy appetizers, cocktails, cannon fire, and special guests, in advance of  Saturday night’s Pickwicks’s Lanternlight Parade. Reservations required. $50. 4:30pm to 6pm. Click here to order tickets.
  • Pickwick’s Lanternlight Parade – After the sun goes down, the authentic feel of old Victorian London kicks in. Marchers carry gas lamps, parade floats covered with hoiliday lights standout, and entertainment is in high form. Included with admission. 7pm.
  • A Muppet Christmas Carol Movie Screening at 23rd and Strand – Enjoy a free outdoor screening of the 1992 movie that cast Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, surrounded by a cast of Muppets, including Kermit the Frog at Bob Cratchit, his nephew Robin as Tiny Tim, and many, many other Muppets who fill in the rest of the cast, including Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie Bear, Sam the Eagle, and more. Included with admission. 7:30pm.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

  • The Queen’s Parade – The royal redux of Saturdays parade resumes, with a similar lineup of bagpipe corps, local bands, citizens of Victorian London, and (of course) appearances by Queen Victoria and Father Christmas. Included with admission. 2pm.
  • Saint Arnold’s Strand Walking Tour – Explore the Strand National Historic Landmark District while sipping some of Saint Arnold’s signature ales. $35. 3pm. Click here to order tickets.
  • A Dickens Costume Contest – This new addition to the festival’s wildly popular

    series of costume contests puts the focus squarely on the beloved characters from Dickens’ literary works. Think Ebenezer Scrooge, Fezziwig, Bob Cratchit, Oliver Twist, Fagin, Miss Havisham, David Copperfield, Madame Defarge, and more. The contest will be judged by visiting Dickens descendants. Registration is $10 for individuals and $15 for families. Interested competitors can sign up at the costume contest booth. Contest at 3pm.

Dickens on the Strand | Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation

Dickens on the Strand 2017

  • Dates: Friday, December 1 through Sunday, December 3, 2017
  • Times: Friday 5pm to 9pm; Saturday 10am to 9pm; Sunday 10am to 6pm
  • Location: The Strand Historic District, 2323 Strand Street, Galveston, TX 77550
  • Admission: Tickets are $13 for adults; $7 for ages 7 to 12 if purchased online before Friday, December 1, 2017. Tickets are $15 at the gate; $9 for ages 7 to 12. $8 at the gate for guests in Victorian-era attire.
Dickens on the Strand | Photo courtesy of Galveston Historical Foundation

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