35th Annual Dickens of a Christmas Festival

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A fun and educational holiday experience for the entire family

By Susan Baldani

Main Street will undergo a picturesque transformation as the 35th Annual Dickens of a Christmas Festival comes to downtown Franklin, TN the weekend of December 14. Against the backdrop of Victorian era buildings, visitors will feel like they’ve gone back in time to when Charles Dickens was alive and Tiny Tim was riding on his father’s shoulder.

“We actually have a brand new revamped section of the festival,” said Megan Hershey, Chief Operating Officer of the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County. “We’ve gotten some great feedback from our Downtown Franklin Association members as well as the general public, that they would really love Dickens to be more of a theatrical festival. That’s really what it was intended to be when it started.”

Folks dressed in Victorian era costumes and as Dickens’ story book characters will gather on sidewalks while period dancers will take over the streets. Victorian era craft demonstrations, such as candle making and weaving, will be on display, while carolers stroll by singing holiday songs. Pop-up musicians, both adults and children, will be interspersed throughout the festival playing accordions and fiddles.

“This year is probably going to be the most authentic Dickens era holiday festival that we have done. We’re really honoring it as a theatrical festival,” said Hershey.

There will also be a Holiday Town Sing, where the public can join in and enjoy their favorite holiday tunes. As there are every year, there will be plenty of activities for children and families, plus booths filled with a variety of delicious food and drinks.

The Dickens of a Christmas Festival,  sponsored by First Citizens National Bank, attracts anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000  attendees each year. As usual, most of the events are free of charge.

Carriage rides, which haven’t been a part of the festival for many years, are coming back and will most likely be stationed by the Franklin Grove Estate and Garden, which is a new project of the Heritage Foundation.

On Saturday night, at 7:00 pm, the Franklin Theater will be featuring a Christmas Carol theatrical experience featuring Jason Wood. It will be a one-man show based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Tickets are on sale now at FranklinTheatre.com.

The Heritage Foundation of Williamson County is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization focused on historic preservation and education. The festivals in town, which also include Pumpkin Fest and Main Street Festival, were originally started as a joint venture between the  Downtown Franklin Association and the Heritage Foundation, which have now merged, as a means of bringing tourism and traffic to downtown Franklin.

“These festivals have now become part of our cultural heritage,” said Hershey.

The Dickens of a Christmas festival will be held rain or shine from 10:00 to 7:00 on Saturday and on Sunday from 11:00 to 4:00.

“We have extended the Saturday hours because we think Franklin is so beautiful with all the Christmas lights and holiday decorations. Having this extended time allows us to go into the dusk part of the day so visitors will be better able to enjoy the lights,” said Hershey.

For more information on the festival, go to WilliamsonHeritage.org/Dickens.

Written for Franklin Lifestyle Magazine in Franklin, Tennessee.

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