With a nod to the ghost of Dickens past and an eye towards the future, the 40th anniversary of Galveston’s world famous Victorian holiday festival returns to Galveston Island Dec. 6-8, with an additional day and a host of new events and activities. 

The event is produced by Galveston Historical Foundation.

“The 40th anniversary of Dickens on The Strand will be an extraordinary event. Over the years, Dickens has become a cherished part of many families’ holiday experience and a way to enjoy a part of our heritage of Southeast Texas. The feeling of Dickens is animated and magical, and simply fun for all,” states Galveston Historical Foundation Executive Director, Dwayne Jones. “We look forward to making 2013 an exceptional experience with Dickens characters, Queen Victoria and her royal entourage, and visitors from the Dickens’ Museum in London. You will not want to miss the celebration.”

The annual holiday street festival, based on 19th-century Victorian London, features parades, non-stop entertainment on five 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.

Two descendants of Charles Dickens himself will once again grace the festival as GHF welcomes Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, great-great-great-granddaughter of Dickens, and Jane Monk, great-great-granddaughter. Both women will be at numerous events throughout the weekend starting with Dinner with Dickens.

"I'm really looking forward to my return to Galveston and am thrilled to have been asked to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Dickens on The Strand,” says Lucinda Dickens Hawksley. “It's going to be even better this year as it is starting a day earlier than normal and there are some great new ideas. Galveston is such a pretty and historic place to hold a festival that it lends itself perfectly to the very special atmosphere that makes up Dickens on the Strand."

New in 2013

Held this year for one night only on Friday, December 6 at the Tremont Ballroom of The Tremont House x, “Dinner with Dickens” will welcome guests as they are treated to an evening of fine food, grand storytelling and royal company as the festival’s Queen Victoria makes her annual entrance. Tickets are $80 per person, and include a complimentary pass to Friday night’s festival. Reservations are required.

Charles Dickens’ beloved “A Christmas Carol” turns 170 in 2013 and Dickens on The Strand is the perfect backdrop to showcase it. Enjoy a live play, held in Saengerfest Park on Friday evening as actors recreate Dickens’ masterpiece for the public. The event is free to the public with paid admission to Friday night’s festival.

Back in her berth at Texas Seaport Museum, the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA will once again host attendees throughout the weekend and with a special “Salute to Sunset” on Saturday, December 7 beginning at 4:30 p.m. With her recent deck restoration to be completed in November, the ship will serve as the perfect location for guests to enjoy heavy appetizers and cocktails as the ending of the day gives way to the second evening of Dickens on The Strand. The event concludes in time to view the evening’s beloved Pickwick’s Lantern Parade as it makes its way through downtown. Tickets are $45 per person. Reservations are required.

A Dickens Pub Crawl and Walking Tour, beginning at 4:30 on Saturday, December 7 will give those interested in enjoying spirited libations the opportunity to learn more about the architecture and history of the National Historic Landmark Strand District as they venture to three of the festival’s pubs. Tickets are $20 per person and reservations are required.

What would a weekend celebrating Victorian England be without tea? Dickens’ “Tea with the Queen” will serve as the official ending to this year’s event on Sunday, December 7 beginning at 4 p.m. in the Top Gallant Room of the Thomas Jefferson League Building at 2301 Strand. Join Queen Victoria as she signs off on the 40th anniversary as guests are served a traditional tea with savories, scones and sweets while being treated to a short lecture on the history of tea. Tickets are $60 per person and reservations are required.

Returning favorites

The 1859 St. Joseph's Church, the state's first wooden built church and well known for its exceptional acoustics, hosts three holiday hand bell concert on Friday, December 6. Tickets are $10 per person and come with a complimentary Friday night pass.

With over 150 vendors throughout the festival, Dickens on The Strand is your opportunity to get a head start on your holiday shopping. Be sure to visit Friday evening as the vendors will be offering the public their first opportunity to view and purchase items from the incredible variety of booths that only Dickens on The Strand provides.

Returning this year with an expanded bazaar, performance of Steampunk Curiosity Shop, and Saturday night street ball is Airship Isabella, an alternative Victorian “Steampunk” group of performers featured in Steampunk Square and on the Westminster Abbey stage.

Other returning favorites for 2013 are the Whimsical Whisker Revue, a facial hair contest for the bearded and the dandy, judged by the Austin Facial Hair Club; the Dickens Bed Races; a Victorian Costume Contest; Civil War living history encampments and daily parades through Galveston's National Historic Landmark Strand District. Kid friendly options include Piccadilly Circus, a children's playground with elephant and camel rides and a petting zoo; Artful Dodger Lane, where art students create a chalk London on Galveston’s streets; and a true island rarity, Snow on The Strand, in the festival snow yard offer a one-of-a-kind family experience.

Also, guests to the 1892 Bishop’s Palace will be admitted for $5 with your ticket to Dickens’ on The Strand Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the festival.

Tickets to all special events are available now at dickensonthestrand.org and require advance registration.

For more information on Dickens on The Strand, Galveston Historical Foundation, or to purchase advance tickets, please visit galvestonhistory.org or call (409) 765-7834.