5 Ways to Enjoy the Return of the Dickens Festival in Port Jefferson

Ready to have a good Dickens time again as you stroll along Port Jefferson Harbor? The Charles Dickens Festival returns on December 4 and 5 with 129 events, including magic, train and craft shows and a ghostly puppet parade that greets the life and works of the famous Victorian author.

“Everyone wants to get back to normal, and this is a huge, happy party that people are ready to go out and enjoy,” said Allan Varela, festival producer and chairman of the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.

“After the pandemic, it was imperative to reintroduce our beloved Charles Dickens Festival,” said Mayor Margot Garant, whose mother, former Mayor Jeanne Garant, created the festival, now in its 25th year. The guarantor says the village streets will be decorated with ribbons and garlands, restaurants will serve holiday menus, and carolers will roam the streets on festival days.

With downtown parking expected to be scarce, a free jitney will run in a loop service all day and stop at Port Jefferson Long Island Rail Road station and downtown, Varela says. He adds that festival goers are encouraged to wear masks during indoor activities.

Here are five activities to satisfy your big Dickens party expectations.

Tiny Tim’s Train Station, noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and noon to 4 p.m., Sunday, Harbor Masters Building, West Broadway

The colorful, multi-layered exhibit of the Port Jefferson Station-based Reed Family Train Project is back on track after Marie Reed’s death in March of cancer at age 57, says her husband, Charles Reed.

Reed decided to continue in his wife’s memory with the artfully decorated tables of O- and HO-tracked model trains, including “the largest exhibit resembling a wedding cake, with trains running in three different directions.” Younger railroad enthusiasts may be amazed at The Polar Express, Snoopy’s Christmas and NASCAR theme layouts, says Reed, who enlists the help of his son, William, and local scouts.

Artisan Square Crafters, noon to 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Farmer’s Market lot.

The pandemic seems to have ignited a creative fire under Lisa Seckler-Roode of Mount Sinai, a weaver and organizer of this annual showcase of 19th-century craftsmanship.

“I spent the entire pandemic knitting in my house, and I have 46 sets of hats and scarves that I want to sell,” says Seckler-Roode.

Seckler-Roode adds that with a Victorian-style hat maker at hand, festival-goers will see “how clothes were made during the Dickensian era.”

The festival of the trees10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sunday, and continues through Jan. 2, Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 E. Broadway.

A sparkling panorama of 25 six and a half foot tall artificial trees adorned with white light will be decorated by local merchants and nonprofits with traditional ornaments, seashells, gingerbread, sunflowers and more, says Barbara Ransome of the Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce.

“They’re very clever,” Ransome says of themes like “Gnome for the Holidays” with pixie figures around the tree.

“A Christmas Carol” and Street Characters

The heartwarming Christmas classic can be seen on the street or inside a theater, featuring either a hand-held or real-life Tiny Tim.

Theater Three returns to the board (after last year’s virtual show) with a staged production featuring a puppet Tiny Tim and executive artistic director Jeffrey Sanzel’s 1,450. (and counts) appearance as the wretched Joakim. (412 Main St., Port Jefferson, 631-928-9100, For tickets: theatrethree.com)

If you want your Dickens card and al fresco, perform a group of 115 locals, dressed as flower girls, chimney sweeps and other street characters, 10 to 15 minute street games of “Oliver Twist”, “The Pickwick Papers”, “Bleak House” and ” A Christmas Carol “- the latter with a local five-year-old boy playing Tiny Tim. The group members also want cozy singing in the center.

“We’re making a version of ‘O Christmas Tree’ with special lyrics for Port Jefferson,” says street character coordinator Karen Overin. “It’s pure holiday magic.”

Pickwick’s Giant Puppet Parade17.00, Sunday, maple and main streets to the village house

This year’s festival will march into history with the second appearance of a quartet of giant puppets, which debuted in 2019. Ten feet wide, mounted on carriages, with scary faces and puppet master-operated hands, Jacob Marley and Ghosts of Christmas Past , Present and the Future was created with 3D computer technology by Gen Varela from Port Jefferson and Vin Blangiardo from Port Jefferson Station.

“The Ghost of Christmas Past has a candle flame head,” wonders Allan Varela.

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