You can walk into the middle of an 18th century Victorian novel this weekend when the village of Port Jefferson puts on its 23rd annual Charles Dickens Festival. About 130 Dickensian characters will perform skits and greet folks as they stroll through streets moving from one attraction to the next.
“Everything is geared for the young and young at heart,” says festival executive producer Allan Varela, chairman of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council. “It’s all about having a friendly, happy, family-oriented time.”
Don’t be a Scrooge — embrace the spirit of the season with these holiday-themed activities:
The kickoff starts 11 a.m. Saturday with a parade along East Main and Main streets. Dickens characters prance along as the Longwood High School 134-piece marching band provides live music. “They completely decorate their instruments,” Varela says. “Even their trumpets are outlined with LED lights.”
The event concludes with an opening ceremony at the Village Center where Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant hands over the mayorship to the Dickens mayor for the weekend and then becomes a street character.
Post-parade, go to the Drowned Meadow House on West Broadway where confection artist Pat Darling decorates two rooms in an old-world style Christmas. In room three, visitors get to meet Santa face-to-face. (noon-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday)
FESTIVAL OF TREES
Up on the second floor of the Village Center, visitors can walk through a display of 20 Christmas trees decorated in a different style by a local sponsor. “Each one is more magnificent than the next,” Varela says. “It’s like walking onto a movie set.” (10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, closes at 7 p.m. Sunday)
OLIVER TWIST’S ARTISAN SQUARE
Watch old school artisans perform live 1800s handcrafting from leatherwork to sewing to weaving to blacksmith work on Main Street. (Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, closes at 4 p.m. Sunday)
TINY TIM’S TRAIN STATION
Witness a winter wonderland of holiday train displays, presented by the Reed family, at the Harbormaster’s Building just across the street from Village Hall on West Broadway. This location also serves as a Toys for Tots drop spot. (Noon-5 p.m. Saturday, closes at 4 p.m. Sunday)
Naturally, a key part of the festival is Theatre Three's annual production of “A Christmas Carol” ($20, 7 p.m. Friday, 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday). There's also “The Nutcracker” by the Harbor Ballet Theatre at Port Jeff High School. ($25, 8 p.m. Friday, 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday)
For a quick fix of Dickens, catch some live Main Street scene performances such as “Oliver” (1 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday), “The Cricket on the Hearth” (1 p.m. Saturday-Sunday), “Scrooge Past” (2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday) and “Scrooge Present and Future” (4 p.m. Saturday, 3 p.m. Sunday).
If your stomach is rumbling, get a hot pretzel from an old-style cart near the Village Center or pass by the pickle guy in Artisan Square. Those with a sweet tooth can head to the Chocolate Extravaganza at Christ Episcopal Church or check out the 24th annual Cookie Walk at the First United Methodist Church (both run 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday)
WHILE YOU'RE THERE
- Put together a holiday keepsake at Mrs. Cratchit’s Colorful Christmas Crafts at the Village Center, Saturday and Sunday noon to 4 p.m., with the purchase of a craft kit ($6).
- Take a carriage ride ($2 per person) through the village led by Oreo the Harlequin black and white pony or board a larger carriage that holds 12-16 people.
- Get the inside scoop on Ebenezer Scrooge as his housekeeper Mrs. Dilber tells all in “Scrooge the Inside Story” at the Village Center Saturday at noon and 1:30 p.m. and Sunday at noon.
- Learn contra dancing at Fezziwig’s Dance Party at the Masonic Lodge at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
- See four 10-feet tall puppets travel down Maple and Main streets on Sunday at 5 p.m. for Pickwick’s Puppet Parade.
23rd ANNUAL CHARLES DICKENS FESTIVAL
WHEN/WHERE 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1-2 throughout the village of Port Jefferson
INFO 631-473-4724, portjeff.com/dickens
ADMISSION Free (fee for some activities)