Get ready for a literary adventure at the Ebensburg Dickens of a Christmas because it is crafted with amazing bookish care. In fact, everything about this festival falls back on the literature and life of Dickens himself. Consider that this festival tours the local nineteenth-century prison… dressed up as London’s infamous Newgate prison. Intriguing sure, but Christmas spirit? Festival sponsors are quick to point out that the sad and hard tradition of debtor’s prison was a strong motif in both Dickens’ work and his own personal life. Score one for festivals and books.
In true Victorian spirit, Dickens of a Christmas hosts sleigh and carriage rides. To obvious? Then try out the traditional fiery cressets instead, and grab hot-mulled cider in Penn Eben Park. There are ice sculptures in the park too. All the ice is abstractly designed emulate the traditional winter festivals of the River Thames. Roaming carolers hang around doorsteps, singing blessings to households and property as per strict English tradition. And as per tradition, they dutifully present their wassailing bowl for to collect handouts and goodies. Even the indoor ice skating is designed to harken reference to Dickens’ Pickwick Papers.
The Ebensburg Historical Society is open for business with Mrs. Buck’s Sweet Shoppe. This old candy store setup serves a variety of old candy favorites, fresh pastries and hot drinks. The Christmas Cantata at the First United Church is a festival tradition and shouldn’t be missed. Visitors asre also encouraged to join the First United Church in a traditional Welsh Tea and enjoy the serenading choirs and ensembles hosted by the church. If you aren’t able to make it to the Welsh Tea, don’t fret, as there are a handful of such tea events throughout the festival.
The Dickens theme runs deep through this Christmas festival, but it’s not exactly as painful as an academic paper on Victorian Literature. For the light of heart and deep in spirit there is still plenty to see and do. The town parade has a Santa Clause, and there is a decorating contest at the courthouse and kid activities at the Community Center. There are dinner shows and great holiday performances. Craft vendors set camp in local churches and fire halls and offer great buys to holiday shoppers. At the Ebensburg Dickens Christmas the fixation is truly on Dickens the man and Dickens the author but it is in good measure. Have fun and enjoy the festival; what you learn won’t be on the test!
Parking and admission to the festival is free but certain activities cost a nominal fee.