For 48 years, Galveston Historical Foundation’s (GHF) Dickens on The Strand festival has highlighted downtown Galveston’s Victorian-era architecture while providing a one-of-a-kind holiday destination filled with the sights and sounds of Charles Dickens’ work. This year’s event continues that tradition with new entertainers and events, returning favorites, and family-friendly programming.
Dickens On The Strand At Galveston Historical Island – What To Expect For 2021
“The 2021 Dickens on The Strand promises to be a remarkable return to our full annual holiday festival. Our board, staff, and volunteers are ready to make Galveston come alive again in the holiday season as we recognize the wonderful work of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol,” states GHF Executive Director Dwayne Jones. “Many friendly faces, entertainers, and vendors will return to Galveston in December as a reawakening of an inspirational event unfolds.”
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. Each year’s event also welcomes descendants of the author and this year Oliver Dickens, the great-great-great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens, will make his return to Galveston.
New in 2021
This year’s Dickens on The Strand includes numerous additions inside the festival grounds for youth and adults. The Dickens snow yard makes its return, and new areas like Tiny Tim’s Play Land and Shopkeeper Skills Village will introduce participants to numerous hands-on experiences. Roaming performers and sets throughout the site will also offer new interactions with Charles Dickens’ beloved storytelling.
The Dickens Dash | Take to the festival grounds before we open to the public with our costumed fun-run, walk, stroll, what-have-you! The Dickens Dash allows entry into the festival grounds Sunday at 10 a.m., special entertainment on the Hendley Green stage, a complimentary drink, souvenir, medal, and more. This dash is not a timed race; it’s a spirited costumed .5-mile loop through the downtown historic district. Costumes are required, with prizes for best costume, best group, and more. Sunday, December 5, 10 a.m. $40 per person, includes festival admission.
Dickens After Dark | Holders of this limited ticket will gain access to a specially curated evening of art, music, and performance inside the festival grounds. Guests will be greeted with unique arrangements, drinks, and revelry for this special evening addition to the 48th annual Victorian festival. Friday, December 3 and Saturday, December 4, 6-9 p.m. $40 per person, includes festival admission.
The festival weekend also hosts many spirited 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. Special events also include:
Fezziwig’s Friday Night | Mr. Fezziwig was everything Ebenezer wasn’t, and we pay tribute to his jovial personality at our Fezziwig’s Beer Hall. Join us Friday evening, December 3, from 5 to 9 p.m. for specialty acts, hearty brews, and new friends. Admission is free for this lively start to the weekend.
A Dickens Soiree at the 1892 Bishop’s Palace | The Dickens Soiree features specialty acts, award-winning performers, and carefully curated food and drink. This event has become one of the stand-out experiences of the weekend, and it’s back again for 2021! Held at the 1892 Bishop’s Palace, attendees will enjoy live music, a special acrobatics presentation by Cirque La Vie, and appearances by special guests. Friday, December 3, 7-9 p.m. $80 per person reservations are required.
Salute To Sunset onboard the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA | Toast the end of the day and the beginning of the evening onboard the Official Tall Ship of Texas. The 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA welcomes you aboard for heavy appetizers, a specialty cocktail, cannon fire, and special guests leading up to Saturday night’s Pickwick’s Lanternlight Parade. Saturday, December 4, 4:30-6:30 p.m. $60 per person and reservations are required.
Holiday Handbell Concerts | The 1859 St. Joseph’s Church, the first wooden-built church in Galveston and well known for its exceptional acoustics, hosts three holiday handbell concerts. Friday, December 3 at 5:30, 7, and 8:30 p.m. $20 per person and reservations are required.
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. Held daily during Dickens on The Strand, you’ll visit three festival pubs as you walk through the National Historic Landmark district with your guide. Friday, December 3 at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, December 4 at 11:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., and Sunday, December 5 at 4:30 p.m. $35 per person and include three complimentary beers.
A Dickensian Breakfast | Start your Dickens day with a one-of-a-kind experience in one of Galveston’s most beloved historic homes, the 1859 Ashton Villa! Take in an English breakfast with special guests, surprise performances, and more in a gorgeous holiday setting inside the house. Saturday, December 4 at 8:30 a.m. and Sunday, December 5 at 10:30 a.m. $80 per person. Reservations are required and include admission to that day’s festival.
Tea With the Captain’s Wife | Join us at the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA for tea and cookies with a touch of history and excitement. Watch the ELISSA crew maneuver the ship at the dock, setting sails and climbing in the rigging. Ongoing demonstrations are introduced by the captain’s wife, who will also give commentary and answer questions. See what life was like for a sailor on the high seas! Saturday, December 4, 11 a.m. $40 per person and reservations are required.
Dickens On The Strand At Galveston Island – Event Times, Ticket Information & More
When: This annual festival brought to you by the Galveston Historical Foundation begins Friday, December 3, with free admission to Fezziwig’s Beer Hall from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and continues with ticketed entry Saturday, December 4, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, December 5, from 12 to 6 p.m.
Tickets: Entry is free for the 3rd of December. For 4th December and 5th December, ticket rates vary by event. To buy your tickets in advance, click here.
Note: All images and information used in this article are credit of Galveston Historical Foundation.
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