ST. GEORGE – Take a stroll through the 2014 “Dickens’ Christmas Festival” at the Dixie Center St. George, 1835 Convention Center Drive in St. George, and be transported to 19th century London as you wind through narrow village streets full of goodies bound to delight Christmas shoppers and diners of every age.
The Dickens’ festival opened Wednesday and continues through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, offering a shopping, dining and entertainment spectacle that is a whole lot Christmas spirit with just a touch of “Bah! Humbug.”
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(Videocast by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News)
Visitors to the festival enter into a world created to reflect the time when famous author Charles Dickens first published, to wide acclaim, his iconic novella, “A Christmas Carol.” From the booths to the vendors to the street performers, the festival goes all out to bring patrons a genuine experience and that ever important feeling of Christmas.
Festival Director Brittany Dell has been working at the Dickens’ Christmas Festival ever since her mom and some of her friends got together and decided to put on the festival in Salt Lake City, Dell said – Dell was then 5 years old and played a little matchstick girl, she said.
“My mom and a bunch of her friends were stay-at-home-moms,” Dell said, “and they said ‘you know let’s bring the Christmas spirit back to Christmas’ and it has been a family tradition ever since.”
The festival, which started out small, began in Salt Lake City at the Old Mill and continued to grow, changing venues as the numbers grew larger, Dell said. Dell’s family moved to St. George in 1994 and they decided to start the Dickens’ Festival here in 2001, she said. The festival now operates at two locations; the Dixie Center St. George and the South Towne Expo Center in Sandy.
“The Dickens’ Festival” is produced by the Olde World Historical Council which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing periods of history to life. From the vendor booths to the roving street performers speaking with accents to the Union Jack flying proudly above the “streets” the entire atmosphere strives to be period accurate, Dell said.
While the booths and the clothing are 19th century, the goods sold are both modern and unique and provide shoppers the opportunity to find that special Christmas gift you won’t see in the local mall. Everything from handcrafted wooden longboards to exciting children’s toys and baked goods that tempt the palate are available for purchase.
St. George resident Carlie Matthews has come to the Dickens’ Festival every year since it came to St. George, she said. Matthews comes for both the shopping and the entertainment as well as the cinnamon rolls at the end.
“There are always new booths, always so many things to look at,” Mathews said. “I think that everyone should come to it, it is an awesome place … it is just a fun place to be.”
For Dell, the festival represents a rich family tradition of bringing the real spirit of Christmas back into the holidays, Dell said, and many members of the family get involved and travel with the show as it moves from the Southern Utah location to northern Utah.
Patrons also make the festival part of their family Christmas traditions bringing family and friends each year to shop and enjoy the scene.
“This is something to do with my sister,” St. George resident Michelle Nielsen said. “We used to do this as a family tradition. My daughters are gone now but my sister is here so we can keep up the tradition.”
Nielsen came for many years while her children were young to watch them perform, she said, but now they are all grown.
Some of the highlights of the festival are mini productions of two of Dickens’ classic stories; “Oliver” and “Scrooge” – the musical versions of “Oliver Twist” and “A Christmas Carol.”
Filling the stage with music and dancing, talent from St. George brought to life the famous characters and their famous lines like this one by Scrooge himself:
If I could work my will, every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!
A trip to the festival wouldn’t be complete without a visit to “Father Christmas.” The festival’s Santa Claus is the real deal, Event and Employee Manager Blake Boulter said; he has been Santa for 32 years and he has all the answers to every question.
“If you want your kids to see the real Santa,” Boulter said, “bring them to the Dickens’ festival.”
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- What: Dickens’ Festival; shopping, dining and entertainment | Website
- When: Dec. 3-6, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
- Where: Dixie Center St. George, 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George
- Admission: Adults: $6, Seniors (65+): $5, Children (4-12): $4, Children (3 and under): free
- For more information about the Dickens’ Festival click here
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