Friday, December 12, 2014

A Dickens Christmas

If you are a fan of Charles Dickens and don't mind braving a crowd (a very big crowd), then the Dickens Christmas Festival in Rochester, England is the place you want to be in early December. For one weekend each year the tiny town of Rochester is transformed into a Dickens era village complete with carolers, lights, parades, a Christmas market and of course, Dickens characters. And that is just where we were, along with the afore mentioned crowds, last weekend.

The first thing that struck me about Rochester is that it is quaint. Very quaint. Even without the roaming Dickens characters the center of town feels as though it is trapped in time. But add in the characters, the carolers on just about every street corner and the Christmas lights and the only way to describe the town is enchanting. Because the festival is only held over the course of two days, it is jam packed with activities and there really is something for everyone. There are concerts for young and old, character reenactments and two daily parades, one of which is by candlelight. If shopping is your thing you can
Pipers a piping
browse both the shops and the Christmas market as well as the craft fair. And let us not forget the food (and drink) which is readily offered by all of the restaurants in town. I must say that the hot mulled wine I tried was some of the best I've ever had.

And because, for us, no trip to a foreign city would be complete without visiting the local cathedral or castle, we visited both. This was a fun castle to explore and although it was set amidst all of the hustle and bustle, it provided us with the rare opportunity to escape much of the crowds. We were able to wind and clamber our way through a maze of passageways to the top and were rewarded with sweeping views of the cathedral, river and festival below. Not only was the cathedral beautiful to look at but once inside we were treated to a rehearsal of their choir singing seasonal music. There is something about the acoustics of a church that makes live music all the more moving and powerful.

Our day in Rochester was just what I needed to get me into the holiday spirit. I loved the lights, music and festive atmosphere and am now ready for more. So bring on Christmas. It is less than two weeks away and I am ready.

Rochester Cathedral as seen from the Castle of Rochester

If you go:

Dickens Christmas Festival
Rochester Town Centre
Check for 2015 dates

Telephone: 01634 338131

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