Hear Ye! Hear Ye! Be it decreed that all lords, ladies and children shall come and celebrate the 38th Annual Dickens on The Strand, a holiday festival, where bobbies, Beefeaters and the Queen herself will be on hand to recreate the Victorian London of Charles Dickens. Characters from Dickens novels walk the street. Food and entertainment fill the area with sights and smells that take you back to another era.
Presented by Gaveston Historical Foundation, Dickens on The Strand will take you and your family on an enchanted journey through history as a bustling 19th Century cityscape comes to life. For an entire weekend, hundreds of costumed vendors and performers will provide a look at the pomp and pageantry of the British Empire, at a time when commercial and cultural ties provided a strong connection between London and Texas’ largest and richest city.
Centered in Galveston’s The Strand National Historic Landmark District, located approximately one hour south of downtown Houston, the family festival will include parades, non-stop entertainment on the festival’s stages, plus strolling carolers and roving street musicians, bagpipers and entertainers. Additionally, costumed vendors peddle their wares from street stalls and rolling carts laden with tasty culinary delights and Victorian-inspired crafts, clothing, jewelry, holiday decorations and gift items.
The Queen’s Parades
2 p.m. Saturday & 2 p.m. Sunday
Her Majesty Queen Victoria, escorted by a colorful guard of Beefeaters in her own royal parade, greets her subjects both festival days from an elegant horse-drawn carriage draped with garlands. Others joining the procession through historic downtown Galveston include skirling bagpipe bands, a host of costumed characters and Victorian attired ladies and gentlemen, on foot and riding in decorated carriages and on horseback.
GHF Members – enjoy the parade in comfort, with a great view and other amenities!
Dickens Book Signing
12 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Saturday / 3 p.m. – 4 p.m. Sunday
GHF Retail Tent, 23rd and Strand Street
Lucinda Dickens Hawksley, great-great-great granddaughter of Charles Dickens, will sign copies of Dickens’ literary works. Books will be available for purchase.
Living History Encampment
All day Saturday & Sunday
Courtesy of the 1st Texas Brigade, visit with the Confederate soldiers that once roamed the streets of Victorian Galveston and learn more about the 1863 Battle of Galveston.
Pickwick’s Lanternlight Parade
7:00 pm Saturday
The glow of lanterns fills the streets during this delightful evening parade. Lantern carrying escorts accompany carriages and wagons while the melody of holiday carols and bagpipes echo through the crowd.
Dickens Costume Contest
3:30 pm Saturday
23rd and Strand
Ladies and gentlemen showcase their finest Victorian costumes at the Westminster Abbey stage at 23rd Street and The Strand. Categories include Loveliest Ladies, Most Dapper Gents and Best Dressed Families. Winners of this annual event are featured in Saturday’s Pickwick’s Lanternlight Parade. Interested contestants may register at the Costume & Whisker booth at 23rd and Strand the day of the contest.
All day Saturday & Sunday
Piccadilly Circus, 21st Street and The Strand
Frolic and play the Victorian way! Children of all ages can participate in a number of activities including an elephant or pony ride, painting a monster mural or joining Scrooge’s Scavenger hunt! Be sure to pick up your scavenger hunt card at any entry gate.
London Wharf and the 1877 Tall Ship Elissa
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday
Pier 22 (21st Street at Harborside Drive)
(Included with purchase of a Dickens on the Strand Festival Ticket)
Reflecting Back on times when the sun never set on the British Empire, London Wharf presents the jaunty tunes of a concertina as “old salts” share tall tales of life at sea. Don’t miss this opportunity to see demonstrations of traditional maritime skills and purchase unique nautical crafts made by volunteer crew members of the 1877 tall ship Elissa, a National Historic Landmark. Free admission to those with a Dickens on The Strand festival ticket, including tours of the Elissa.
Continuous Entertainment & Holiday Shopping
All day Saturday & Sunday
There’s no shortage of entertainment for royal revelers when magicians, musicians, hypnotists, acrobats and performers of all types take to the festival’s stages for non-stop entertainment throughout the festival site.
Love to shop? A vast array of costumed vendors peddling their wares from street stalls and rolling carts laden with tasty culinary delights and Victorian inspired crafts clothing, jewelry, holiday decorations and gift items just in time for the holidays.
Want a great place to take pictures with your family and friends? The Queen’s Christmas Tree at the Westminster Abbey stage located on 23rd Street and The Strand is the perfect setting.
Victorian Bed Races
Sunday, December 4th
Cheer on the Victorian Bed Races down Mechanic Street! Enjoy the amusement as spectators line the race route to cheer on the participants. Prizes awarded to the team with the fastest time, best decorated bed and People’s Choice Award – for $1, patrons to the festival may cast their vote for their favorite bed. Half of the proceeds will benefit the Galveston Historical Foundation and the other half will be donated to the charity chosen by the first place winners. Gather your office mates or neighborhood chums and call 409-765-3409 to register your team today!
Albert’s Whimsical Whisker Revue
Saturday, December 3rd
Westminster Abbey Stage, 23rd and Strand
Celebrate whiskers of all styles as members of the Austin Facial Hair Club judge the best of the bearded and dandy! Categories include the Rip Van Winkle (full beard), Most Impressive Picadilly Weepers (sideburns), Finest Gatter Soaker (mustache), Noblest Toff (best groomed) and Hairiest Maiden in the Land (ladies). Winners will be featured in Saturday’s Pickwick Lantern Parade. Interested contestants may register at the Costume & Whisker booth at 23rd and Strand the day of the contest.
Saturday & Sunday
Meet the crew of Airship Isabella and experience the future-past that never was while shopping for unique, handmade items with Steampunk flare!
Saturday, December 3
Join the procession across numerous stages as Airship Isabella leads the way through a world of Steampunk themed entertainment!
Westminster Abbey Stage
9 p.m. Saturday
Dance the night away to the sounds of Victorian era dance music mixed with a fresh new Steampunk beat!
Tickets and Information
Adults $14 / $12 in advance
Students (ages 7 – 12) $8 / $6 in advance
GHF Member Price $11
Festival goers may save money by purchasing tickets in advance on or before December 2 Ticket discounts are also offered to group tours of 20 or more. For advance ticket inquiries or to customize your group’s 2011 Dickens itinerary, contact Jami Durham, 409-765-3409 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Members of GHF may purchase discounted member tickets at the Texas Seaport Museum, Harborside and Pier 21 or at Bishop’s Palace, 1402 Broadway.
Children under the age of 6 are admitted free. Visitors to the festival dressed in Victorian-era costumes will be admitted for half-price at the gate.
Tickets are non-refundable.The festival is open rain or shine. GHF is not responsible for independent transactions between visitors and vendors. Pets and ice chests are not allowed into the festival area. Scooters, skateboards, roller blades, Segways or skates as well as other recreational “wheels” are also prohibited.
Don’t Just Come to Dickens:
Be a Part of It! Sign up now!
If you have been to Dickens on The Strand and watched costumed lords and ladies, lads and lassies, sell tickets, pour beer, and make merry, you may have wondered, who all these folks are, and how can you be part of the festivities?
Volunteer opportunities at the event include ticket taking, ticket selling, information booths, volunteer hosts, festival pubs, festival set-up, stage management and special projects. You can volunteer to work a two-hour shift or be a chairperson. Your level of support is up to you!
So why wait to be a part of it all? Call GHF Volunteer Coordinator, Becky Maixner, at 409-765-3431.
See you at Dickens on The Strand!
For 37 years, Dickens on The Strand has been synonymous with family fun, quality shops and vendors and delightful entertainment. But it also is known for the large number of visitors who join the festivities by wearing their finest Victorian garb.
Dickens on The Strand is an annual Victorian-themed holiday festival scheduled for the first weekend in December, on the streets of historic downtown Galveston. Vendors, entertainers and other participants are required to wear Victorian costumes.
Dressing the part of a Victorian lady or gent can be as easy as pulling together pieces hanging in the back of the closet. Or it could be as fun as finding a vintage dress or suit in a thrift shop or antique store. Others even have costumes custom-made for the event.
Whatever route is chosen, below you will find a quick guide to the basics of Victorian dressing. Remember, dressing the part of Dickens on The Strand not only reduces your admission price, it also helps visitors get the most enjoyment out of the holiday event.
Every lady wore a hat. Outside, ladies usually wore bonnets of some kind, trimmed with feathers, flowers, ribbons and bows. Create a bonnet easily from an old straw or felt hat from a thrift shop. Indoors, ladies often wore small lace caps that can be fashioned today from lace handkerchiefs, a flower and a few small ribbons. Domestic servants wore mopcaps.
A Victorian dress usually had a high neckline, sometimes with a collar and fitted bodice, three-quarter length full sleeves and a very full, long skirt worn over layered petticoats or a hoop. With a few amendments, such as adding more fullness to the skirt, accenting with ribbons, braid, lace and flowers, and even adding a collar, any thrift-shop find can be transformed into a lovely Victorian dress. Keep in mind that solids and small prints were more common, but stripes and plaids were also popular. Cotton, lightweight wools or any fabric that looks like silk or brocade would most resemble period cloth.
When choosing a long skirt, accent it with ribbons, lace and a full petticoat or hoop. A high-necked blouse with a cloak, mantle, shawl or pelerine jacket completes this easy outfit.
A working class woman would wear simple dress with narrow sleeves and a dark material, with no petticoats. She might wear a bibbed apron over the dress, with a shawl tied over her shoulders.
5. Dark stockings and slipper-type shoes or ladies’ boots were worn during this period. To complete the outfit, a lady would add a bonnet to match her dress, gloves, a fan and a small purse.
Hats are a must. A gentleman always wore a hat of some kind when he was outside. Even working-class men are pictured with battered top hats or lower-crowned, broad-brimmed hats. Tweed skimmers were more sporty versions of Victorian attire.
A plain white shirt can be given a period look by turning the collar up. Add a ribbon, scarf or fancy cravat and knot in front. A working man would wear a collarless shirt or smock, with sleeves rolled up.
A vest [or waistcoat] of brocade, velvet or silk will help create a gentleman’s costume. A waistcoat of wool in bright colored strips or plaid will make any 21st Century man a sporting 19th Century chap or shopkeeper.
Tapered pants in black, grey or buff with a strip of ribbon running down the outer seam were a gentleman’s normal attire. A working man would wear a baggy pair of pants in wool or corduroy.
A frock coat or tailcoat is easy to create, using a dark overcoat or raincoat. Trim the collar with velvet, silk or brocade, and move the first button to mid-chest, causing the coat to fall in a cutaway fashion. A laborer, fisherman or stallkeeper would have a wool coat with a scarf tied around the neck.
Boys wore trousers, shirts and coats as grown men did. A cap or small top hat also was common. The younger boys wore knickers, and the “young men” wore trousers.
Girls wore low frocks fastened behind, and short sleeves. When they went outside, they put on a cloak or shawl. Upper-class parents dressed their girls like miniatures, reproducing on a small scale each detail of puff, frill and elaborate decoration. The more common folk tended to be thrifty, and would reuse garments to make their children’s clothes.
Babies were dressed in layers of flannel or cotton petticoats to combine warmth and ease of washing. Caps, with rows and rows of lace, looked dear around an infant’s face. It was fashionable to drape baby in a simple circular cape while outside.
For additional tips on Victorian dressing, visit a public library for books about costuming. Search through old magazines kept on microfilm from the turn of the century and study the clothing pictured in the magazines. Rent an old Charles Dickens classic turned into a movie, such as Oliver or A Christmas Carol, and try to duplicate the clothing worn by the actors. Remember, a Victorian costume can be custom-made by a professional dressmaker, or pieced together with elements found in many closets or thrift shops. Dressing in Victorian fashion for Dickens on The Strand adds to the festival enjoyment, and makes visitors part of the festival instead of just observers.