Published: Wednesday, 15th May 2019

Rochester High Street will be transformed into a Victorian scene for the Dickens Festival next month.

The festival, which celebrates the life and times of Charles Dickens, is one of the highlights of Medway’s festival calendar and will take place in Rochester on Saturday and Sunday, 1 and 2 June 2019.

There will be fun for all the family including a spectacular parade of Dickensian characters and people dressed in Victorian costumes which will be led by the Mayor of Medway from Almon Place at 2pm, along the high street to the Boley Hill stage. 

Meet the original domestic goddess Mrs Beeton at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3pm at Miss Twinkleton’s Fine Coffee House, on both days. The Victorian expert on etiquette, household management, cookery and the art of entertainment will talk visitors through the technicalities of table-laying, nuances of napkin folding and mouth-watering menu planning. Guests will also receive an invitation to taste Victorian goodies made to Mrs Beeton’s original recipes at Miss Twinkleton’s tea room. 

Have you got something you’d like to ask Dickens’ great, great grandson? Or have you wondered how Charles himself would have been like back in the day? Gerald Dickens will be happy to answer your questions at 3.45pm in the Guildhall Chamber on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Don’t miss Dutch choir AGK Puur Sangh perform at 12.30pm and 2.45pm on Saturday at the Blue Boar Lane area. Puur Sangh was founded in 1966 and is made up of 75 singers from the Netherlands, directed by Ad Vergouwen. 

Join us for Cracking the Crinoline, a surprising, uplifting performance which will remind visitors that older women, of any era, should not be taken for granted, at 1.15pm and 3.30pm at the Blue Boar Lane area. 

Travel across the country and meet some of Charles Dickens’ greatest characters Wackford Squeers, Smike, Vincent Crummles and his troupe, Newman Noggs and many others at a reading of Nicholas Nickleby at 12pm in the Guildhall Chamber. 

Solve the Mystery of Edwin Drood at Eastgate House with an exhibition which explores the novel’s connections with the house and other location in Rochester. The exhibition includes a full-size model of Dickens and an interactive game where you decide on the ending of the author’s final, unfinished work. Produced in partnership with the Charles Dickens Museum, London. Eastgate House will be open from 10am to 5pm during the festival. Entrance fees apply. 

Look out for the mischievous Fagin (played by John Endicott) who will be roaming the cobbled streets during the festival. Excerpts from Oliver Twist will be performed at a whirlwind pace by Play on Words Theatre Company – look out for them opposite Crow Lane. 

There will also be a catwalk competition for visitors to show off their Dickensian attire on Sunday at La Providence. The competition will be judged by Young Queen Victoria and Mr Pickwick and the winner will receive an award. There are four categories best dressed woman, best dressed man, under 16s and best dressed character. Visitors can pre-register for the competition at the events information stand on Saturday and up until 11.30am on Sunday. Places are limited. 

One of the highlights of Medway's festival calendar 

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “The Dickens Festival is one of the many highlights of Medway’s events calendar and we are looking forward to welcoming thousands of residents and visitors to Rochester once again. We are proud to celebrate our association with Charles Dickens and I would encourage residents to visit the festival to find out more about the great author. There will be plenty of fun for all the family to enjoy including parades, live music and performances of Dickens’ works.” 

Find out more. 

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