People don't have to travel too far in the time machine if they're interested in taking a trip to Victorian England. They don't even have to leave the United States or the state.
Instead they can just drive to Garrison for the Dickens Village Festival and experience life how Charles Dickens might have experienced it.
The festival takes place mainly on Garrison's Main Street during the weekends of Nov. 23 to 25, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, and Dec. 7 and 8. It runs three consecutive Fridays and Saturdays and the Sunday after Thanksgiving. The English Market opens at 10 a.m. and is open all day, food vendors are open from 4 to 6 p.m., and the parade starts at 5 p.m. Festival attendees taking a ride on the Queen Elizabus double-decker bus at 5 p.m. not only get a tour of Garrison, but also get to be in the parade. Otherwise, bus rides take attendees around the town at 12:30, 3:30, 5, and 6 p.m.
A tea party, shown here in 2011, is one of the activities planned this year at the Dickens Village Festival in Garrison.
Many of the activities at the Dickens Village Festival take place on Main Street in Garrison, shown here in 2010.
There are all sorts of activities and attractions that occur at the Dickens Village Festival. There are street vendors, tours of the town on the Queen Elizabus double-decker bus, a lighted parade, the fruit cake toss, English tea parties, horsedrawn carriage rides, shopping opportunities, live productions of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the festival's version of Cash Cab, a craft show, a toys and collectibles show, quilting demonstrations and entertainment each afternoon and evening.
A group of people on the Dickens Village Festival committee are the ones who bring Victorian England to 21st Century Garrison each year and Paul Schlichting, this year's co-chair of the festival, said they start lining up the entertainment for it right away. Originally, though, the idea for the festival was dreamed up by Pat Koenig, Schlichting noted, and it has grown ever since. The festival is in its 19th year.
Several activities and events are new to the festival this year.
"We have an old house on the tour that was a nunnery that two ladies in the community will turn into a lodge," Schlichting said.
On Nov. 25, there will be a 200th birthday celebration of Charles Dickens, he also said, and cake and cupcakes will be served. Another new addition to the festival this year is the toy, tractor and collectibles show that "gives the men something else to do besides shopping," Schlichting remarked. Each year there is a production of Dickens' A Christmas Carol, but this time it's being performed by an all-female cast, he added.
One of the most popular and more recent events to take place at the Dickens Village Festival is the fruit cake toss.
"We had a big crowd (for that) last year," Schlichting said.
"All of them (the events) are popular, but the performance of A Christmas Carol is a big draw. There are 265 seats and it usually always sells out."
Performances of the play take place Friday and Saturday night during the festival at 7:30.
Schlichting said he's anticipating a big crowd this year.
"There are lots of different things for different types of people," he said.