Dickens on The Strand

When we stopped in at the Galveston, Texas, visitor center, the first thing the gal asked is, “Have you been to The Strand?”  “Ah, no”, I said totally perplexed.  From there the information started flowing from this enthusiastic gal along with accompanying brochures. For anyone visiting Galveston Island for the first time, I highly recommend the first stop be to the visitor center.  There really is a lot to see and do on this island.Charles Dickens

Victorian festivalThe Strand is the name of the main street in Galveston’s historic district.  Situated on the east end of the island and along the bay side and harbor, the street is lined with quaint shops and beautifully restored turn of the century buildings.

Forty years ago, nearly all the Victorian-era buildings that lined the streets were vacant and run down.  The area was shunned by residents and viewed as a place frequented by drunks and derelicts.

In an attempt to draw attention to the Victorian architecture and revitalize this part of Galveston, the Galveston Historical Foundation organized a call to action and Dickens on the Strand was founded.

Dickens on the Strand is an annual Christmas festival occurring the first weekend in December.  Participants come to witness and relive the Charles Dickens era.Charles DickensCharles Dickens

This 19th century Victorian London festival features parades, entertainment, strolling carolers, roving entertainers, and costumed food and shop vendors.  In 1973 the first faux Queen Victoria and Prince Albert presided over Galveston’s first Dickens on the Strand festival and the faux royalty continue to make their presence.Victorian festivals

Forty-one years later the festival is going strong.  Al and I found ourselves in the midst of this years revelry.  I’m not usually fond of large crowds, but this was a very enjoyable and entertaining event.

Galveston TexasAttendees are encouraged to dress the part.  For their efforts, they receive half off admittance.  I did find it somewhat humorous watching the use of iPhones by the costumed attendees …. not exactly from the Dickens era, huh!festivals in Texas

holiday festivalsIt was obvious, regular attendees look forward to this yearly event and some of the outfits were absolutely gorgeous.

Charles DickensThe food and shop vendors were definitely different from what you’d find at your typical festival.

The Scotch Eggs came highly recommended and Al couldn’t wait to give one a try ….. hard-boiled eggs wrapped in sausage dipped in bread crumbs then deep-fried.

Al loved it and ended up eating a second one before leaving the festival.

As for the vendor shop tents; there were the usual vendors you’d find at other festival and then there were ones geared more towards the Dickens on The Strand festival…. dresses, hats, boots, and accessories. Some of the items seemed a little more modern or rather risqué for the Dickens era.Holiday festivalsfestivals in TexasObviously Dickens on The Strand is a very successful festival that helped revitalize this historic downtown area.  The Strand District is now a thriving commercial area filled with shops, restaurants, galleries, theaters, and museums. During our stay in Galveston, we found ourselves frequenting the area.  I’m drawn to the beautiful buildings and their history.  I admire the resilience of not only the structures but the people.holiday festivals

Our admittance ticket to Dickens on The Strand also included a tour of The Elissa.  This majestic tall ship is moored at the Texas Seaport Museum located in the historic port of Galveston.  Elissa is not a replica, but a survivor.Dickens on the Strand

Dickens on the StrandShe was rescued from a scrap yard in Greece in 1975 by the Galveston Historical Foundation.  This three-masted, iron-hulled ship was built in 1877 in Aberdeen, Scotland.

She carries nineteen sails covering over one-quarter of an acre in surface area.  From her stern to the tip of her jibboom she measures 205 feet and her height is over 99 feet tall.

During her commercial history she carried a variety of cargos to ports around the world.  Although retired and now a museum, she is a fully functional vessel that continues to sail annually.

historic shipsElissa shipMore information including a video on Elissa’s dramatic rescue and meticulous restoration can be viewed at the Texas Seaport Museum.Galveston festivals

Dickens on the StrandWe had a fabulous time spending our day at the festival.  Young, old, white, black it just didn’t matter, folks engaged each other as if we were all neighbors or long time friends.

We saw absolutely nothing negative, only polite, respectful behavior even though alcohol flowed freely.

In the photo to the right, the guy at the window was ordering some adult beverages.  No problem walking around with an open beer.

festivals in Texas

antique bicyclesThis delightful couple has attended Dickens on the Strand for the past 40 years.  They eagerly shared these special turn of the century bicycle’s and their story with Al and me.   Since it wasn’t lady like to ride a regular bike, this style was designed so gals could enjoy this new invention in a proper manner.  A regular bicycle might have cost $75 and these would sell for around $200. Thus this style bicycle was ridden only by daughters of wealthy business men.

Al and I enjoyed Dickens on The Strand so much we would even consider a future trip planned around the date. And I assure you, we’ll be in costume next time.

Women's suffrageGalveston Texas

Amazon.com Gift Card with Greeting Card – $50 (Classic)

Major Works of Charles Dickens (Great Expectations / Hard Times / Oliver Twist / A Christmas Carol / Bleak House / A Tale of Two Cities)