By Dickens, it's back — Port Jefferson's annual Charles Dickens Festival turns back time to the Victorian era, complete with roaming characters, lively parades and a heavy dose of holiday-themed entertainment.
“We convert the entire village into a Dickens stage,” Allan Varela, chairman of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council, says of the festival, which has drawn 25,000 spectators to downtown streets in years past.
Many come for the novelty of immersing into a setting that literally brings pages from Dickens' famous 1843 novella, “A Christmas Carol,” to life. Local residents dressed in elaborate Victorian outfits or gritty chimney sweeper garb improv in the streets. A full band of scruffy costumed "orphan" kids wander making merry mischief. You can roast your own marshmallows over an open fire (no charge!), take a horse-and-buggy ride ($2) around town to glimpse historic buildings decorated for the season or sit for a high Victorian tea.
Here are highlights from this year’s attractions:
‘A CHRISTMAS CAROL’
Theatre Three’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol” is a 36-year holiday tradition. Artistic director Jeffrey E. Sanzel, who adapted the morality tale about the true meaning of Christmas, continues to play its surly main character.
INFO $35 ($20 ages 5-12) with shows 7 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday (continues through Dec. 28) at Theatre Three, 412 Main St., 631-928-9100, theatrethree.com
SHOP FOR HOLIDAY TREATS
Build your own platter of homemade holiday sweets at the 25th annual "cookie walk" hosted by the First United Methodist Church 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday (603 Main St.). 'Tis the season for roasted chestnuts — you can get them by the bag, while supplies last, in front of Christ Church Episcopal from noon to 4 p.m. (head inside to shop the parish's chocolate boutique for molded treats and candies, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday; 127 Barnum Ave.).
FESTIVAL OF TREES
Take a break from the cold at the Port Jefferson Village Center, where the masses climb to the second floor to walk past a couple of dozen Christmas trees decorated in niche themes.
INFO 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, 101 E. Broadway
Artisans including a blacksmith, a weaver and a candle maker use antique tools to demonstrate how goods were made in Dickens’ time.
INFO Noon-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday at the farmers market lot, corner of East Broadway and Main Street
The First Presbyterian Church hosts a proper Victorian tea with tiered platters of scones, finger sandwiches and holiday treats.
INFO $15 ($7.50 ages 13 and younger); 1-5 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m.-4:30 p.m. Sunday at Main and South streets
TINY TIM’S TRAIN STATION
The Port Jefferson Station-based Reed Family Train Project displays model trains from its extensive collection on decorated tables. This is also a drop-off for Toys for Tots donations.
INFO Noon-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday at the Harbormaster’s building, 326 Main St.
THE GIANT PUPPET PARADE
The ghosts of Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future come to life in oversize puppets — including new models — created by the Comsewogue and Mount Sinai High School robotics teams. The Longwood High School marching band provides the tunes.
INFO 5 p.m. Sunday along Main Street at Theatre Three to Village Hall on West Broadway
Charles Dickens Festival
WHEN|WHERE Saturday-Sunday, Dec. 7-8 throughout Port Jefferson village
INFO 631-473-1414, dickens.portjeff.com
ADMISSION Free (a la carte admission for some events)