Our ideas of what a traditional Christmas is and looks like have been heavily shaped by Victorian literature and Charles Dickens in particular. As 2012 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens, VisitEngland has listed the top 10 Dickensian Christmas experiences across England this festive season
Plymouth Christmas Market, Armada Way
22 November – 24 December
With Plymouth being the birthplace of Charles Dickens’, this traditional Victorian-style fayre offers a host of tasty treats and original, quality, handmade arts, crafts and gift ideas for all the family. Mini shops glowing with festive cheer are joined by carol singers, dance troupes, jazz harmony groups, a barbershop chorus and even a family of real, live reindeer! You can also visit Dickens’ Birthplace Museum. http://www.charlesdickensbirthplace.co.uk/
Ulverston Dickensian Christmas Festival
Wander around and savour the wonderful atmosphere of a traditional market town in the Dickensian era. As well as Ulverston’s fantastic specialist shops, great pubs and cafes, cobbled streets and great atmosphere, there is a huge variety of free entertainment and events for children – free hat making (top hats and tiaras), costume competitions, balloon modelling, horse drawn carriages, music, dancing; plus a wonderful traditional fairground, complete with Helter Skelter, and lots of music from Folk to Brass Bands.
Chester Christmas Market
24 November – 31 December
The annual festive outdoor market with stalls arrives in Chester 24 November! The Christmas Market is always popular for finding gifts and tasty treats. Look out for performances of local groups and community talent in the bandstand. Move inside to Chester Market within the Forum Shopping centre for the best local Christmas produce and more excellent gift ideas. New for this year, towering above the Town Hall Square is a Christmas Toboggan ride and Santa’s Sleigh, a nostalgic reminder of fun fairs of old, with all the thrills for the young and the young at heart.
Worcester Victorian Christmas Fayre
29 November – 2 December
Worcester Christmas Fayre is the leading Victorian-themed street market in the West Midlands and this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. More than a hundred stalls will fill the atmospheric streets of Worcester’s historic heart with the colours, sounds and irresistible aromas of Christmas for this extra special year. From sparkly jewellery and festive home decorations to traditional roast chestnuts and warming mulled wine – a wonderful range of products are waiting to be discovered within the local arts and crafts maker area, international area, festive gifts area and food court.
The Dickensian Christmas Market, Rochester
Each year, during the first weekend of December, Dickensian Christmas comes to Rochester, where the streets are alive with entertainment, readings, song and dance. Packed with shopping stalls, Rochester becomes a feast of Victorian delights. There are lamp-lit parades, carols to be sung, Father Christmas to be met and even a guaranteed snowfall, framed by Rochester’s fairy-tale cathedral and castle. You’ll also see some familiar, fabled characters from Dickens’ much-loved stories.
Kelham Island Museum 20th Victorian Christmas Market, Sheffield
With over 100 stalls inside and out the cobbled museum streets in the heart of Sheffield, the visitors are set for an unforgettable Christmas treat. Visitors can gather under the gas lamps to experience the sights and smells of Christmas, with treats including the traditional hot chestnuts, mulled wine and a scrumptious hog roast. Traditional entertainment will include a fairground galloper ride, Santa’s Workshop and an array of musicians, singers, brass bands and performance artists. The museums’ ‘Dickensian’ Living History characters will wander the cobbled streets and spread Christmas cheer, and visitors are invited to come dressed up in their Victorian best!
A Haunted Dickens Christmas at the Historic Dockyard Chatham
8, 13, 19 December
Join friends for a haunted Christmas at the Historic Dockyard, where costumed characters regale diners with Charles Dickens stories between courses at special Dickens’ Christmas lunches, or Dickens’ Christmas dinners with a ’haunted’ twist. The lunchtime experience combines a Dickens Dockyard Tour with a two or three course festive lunch in one of the most beautiful historic buildings in Kent. The lunch experience is priced at £22.00 per person for two courses and £25.50 per person for three courses. Alternatively groups may prefer a sumptuous dinner with a ‘haunted’ twist at £30.00 per person. Characters from Dickens’ tales welcome guests on arrival at Commissioner’s House at 7pm and offer a glass of mulled cider before entertaining them with Dickens’ short Christmas stories between the three dinner courses. The evening concludes with an optional mini ghost tour of Commissioner’s House. Victorian attire is optional for guests at both lunch and dinner.
Dickensian Festival at Bridlington Old Town
The streets will be filled with stalls and amusements of all kinds – including many offering food and craft gifts – and there will be performers and musicians to keep visitors entertained. Many of the Old Town’s shopkeepers, stall holders and residents will be in Victorian dress and everyone is invited to join them in their own Dickensian outfits.
Truro Victorian Christmas Market, Cornwall
Truro’s Victorian Market, now in its eigth year, has established itself as the centrepiece of the town’s Christmas celebrations. The large heated marquee showcases over 70 high quality exhibitors and producers, all in period Victorian clothing, with a wide variety of food, drink, arts, crafts and gifts. Savour the sights and sounds of a bygone era whilst browsing for that perfect Christmas gift.