Christmastime is a time full of tradition and wonder. Many families celebrate with food, music, gift-giving and other traditional activities that have been passed down from generation to generation. It is a time when people both young and old get together and share in the joyful sense of Christmas spirit. All these elements, and more, are reflected in the St. George Dickens’ Festival every winter.
It began in 2001 by some of the same people who founded the Dickens’ Festival in Salt Lake City. By now, the festival has been an ongoing tradition for over 30 years, and when you attend one yourself you can easily see why. Recreating the 19th century London of Charles Dickens’ stories, the festival is engulfed in an atmosphere that evokes the Christmas spirit in such a natural, yet thrilling way. Booths fill the Dixie Convention Center, arranged in narrow, winding paths to resemble crowded London streets. Vendors who run the booths are required to adhere to strict codes, to uphold the festival’s themes. The booths are all decorated to resemble Olde English shops, and those working inside them are dressed in period-appropriate costumes and speak in their best British accents.
Entertainment abounds at the festival, where music and laughter fill the air. A variety of performances can be viewed from two stages in the convention hall. Mini productions of Scrooge and Oliver play every night, as well as performances by local dance and music groups. There is also a number of actors in costume performing “street theater” as characters inspired by Dickens’ work, including orphans, pickpockets, Queen Victoria, Fagin, and Scrooge himself. Father Christmas is there all day each day, ready with a smile to hear your Christmas wishes. The same man has played the part for over 30 years, and his skill in the role is a big draw to the festival for many families. Beyond a visit with Father Christmas, there are a number of other activities to delight the children, including brass rubbing, candle dipping, costume dress-up, and one year there were even live reindeer to see.
Food is available through catering by the convention center, and a number of booths also sell sweet treats and delectable goodies. The smells coming from Mr. Bumble’s Buns are irresistible, thanks to the variety of cinnamon rolls offered there. Other treats commonly found include fudges, pastries, popcorn, and Pioneer Valley’s excellent selection of jams and syrups.
The booths provide a fun and thrilling shopping experience. Many of them contain handmade artisan items, such as beautiful soaps, hand-carved wooden objects, knitted or crocheted toys and clothing, and much much more. It’s a great place to find unique Christmas gifts for friends and family, and the variety of shops makes it easy to get something for everyone.
Held in the last week of November, in the Dixie Convention Center, the Dickens’ Festival is a wondrous experience. The music, entertainment, food, shopping, decorations, all set against the backdrop of 19th Century London, combine to form an atmosphere that is certain to appeal to your sense of Christmas Spirit. Make a visit to the festival this year, and it will surely become a new tradition for your family to share for years to come.