Published: Monday, 21st May 2018

Residents are invited to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Dickens Festival this year.

Over the years the popular festival, which celebrates the life and times of Charles Dickens, has grown into one of the highlights in Medway’s festival programme. This year the festival will take place on Saturday and Sunday, 2 and 3 June.

There will be fun for all the family including costumed parades, street acts, competitions, readings and a fun fair. Rochester High Street will be transformed into a Dickensian scene and Dickens’ great-great grandson, Gerald Dickens, will perform in Dr Marigold, one of Dickens’ most popular readings. Gerald will also answer visitors’ questions during special Q&A sessions in the Kings Head car park.

To celebrate 40 years of Dickens Medway Council is asking people who attended the first festival to share their photos with Enjoy Medway on Facebook, or email them to communications@medway.gov.uk. The pictures could appear at a special exhibition at the festival which will showcase festival programmes from over the years.

The Dickens Festival was first organised by Rochester-upon-Medway City Council and after the creation of Medway Council in 1998 the unitary authority continued to organise the popular festival which attracts thousands of residents and visitors to historic Rochester every year.

During this year’s festival visitors can explore Victorian Rochester with a living history encampment in the Castle Gardens. Discover how Victorians took and processed photographs on glass and metal plates using antique cameras and have a go at Victorian games such as snakes and ladders and hoopla whilst listening to Victorian music. A craft fair will also be held in the Castle Gardens featuring stalls selling a variety of handmade items including knitted children’s clothes, jewellery, china, preserves and home-made fudge.

A catwalk competition will be held for visitors who have dressed in Dickensian fashion and Gerald Dickens will present the winner with a prize.

Students from the University for the Creative Arts will perform elements of Dickens’ short story The Seven Poor Travellers in locations in Rochester and Chatham where elements of the story are set. They will be on hand throughout the festival to talk to visitors about their work while the story is brought to life by professional performers.

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “Medway is very proud of its rich heritage and its association with Charles Dickens and I am very pleased that we’re celebrating the festival’s 40th anniversary this year. There’s plenty of activities to suit the whole family and we look forward to welcoming visitors to historic Rochester once again.”

Find out about the Dickens Festival

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