by Maddy Zollo Rusbosin | October 4, 2022
An Enchanted Village, Victorian Carolers and Loads of Christmas Spirit: Amelia Island’s Dickens on Centre
Spend a not-so-silent night at Florida's favorite Victorian-themed Christmas attraction.
While Florida may have more palm trees than balsam firs and more sand than snow, the Sunshine State certainly isn’t lacking in holiday cheer. Perhaps the biggest testament to just how seriously locals take their merriment is Amelia Island’s Dickens on Centre: A can’t-miss celebration where the quaint seaport is transformed into a magical Victoriana village, offering everything from carolers outfitted in 1800s garb to Tiny Tim’s Kid Zone with crafts and face painting to live performances such as a one-man rendition of A Christmas Carol—and of course, jolly old St. Nick will be there too.
Back for its eighth year, this festival is truly an immersive affair, modeled after Charles Dickens’ famed story. It’s fitting that Fernandina Beach is home to this ode to the past: The coastal town is teeming with buildings that boast beautiful Victorian architecture. Not to mention, the downtown district was once home to the Gilded Age’s elite along with bootleggers, shrimpers and even pirates.
While anyone can stroll through the festival from Thursday, December 8th until Sunday, December 11th, Dickens on Centre offers unparalleled signature events that make this celebration one-of-a-kind. Here are three happenings worth bookmarking.
DICKENS ILLUMINATED PROCESSION
To usher in the long weekend of festivities, the party kicks off with the Illuminated Procession. At 5:30 p.m. on December 8th, locals and visitors alike are encouraged to gather near the Welcome Center (the old train depot) on Centre Street. Revelers are welcome to bring paper lanterns or lights of their own, as long as there are no open flames or candles—and it’s not unusual to see some unique glow creations, from jellyfish with twinkling tentacles to sharks shining in the night.
The parade itself is a leisurely stroll around Fernandina’s historic district and wraps up at the waterfront where participants will be met with food trucks, drinks, live music and more. The evening ends with a light show over the marina, marking the official start of the festival.
THE ENCHANTED VILLAGE
Did you know that the snow globe was created at the tail end of the Victorian era in 1900? That’s why it’s only fitting that a cluster of ornately decorated “snow globes” (bubble-like igloo tents) make up Dickens on Centre’s Enchanted Village. These life-size snow globes aren’t just for viewing: You can reserve an hour long time slot to enter inside one of the finely curated interiors to dine, drink and soak up the views.
After the village’s successful debut last year, two more globes have been added to the mix, each with their own unique holiday theme. Up to six people can sit comfortably inside and graze on gourmet charcuterie boxes curated by Luxe Picnics by Les and enjoy for-purchase libations of wine, beer or champagne from the Enchanted Village’s own tavern, The Portly Gentleman.
DICKENS AFTER DARK
While the majority of the fest is designed with the whole family in mind, Dickens After Dark is aimed at the 21-and-up crowd. This exclusive holiday party is being held on Saturday night (December 10th) at the historic Lesesne House, one of the oldest properties in Fernandina Beach. Partygoers are encouraged to don their finest Victorian costumes, so break out the top hats and hoop skirts. With a two-hour open bar, tasty hors d’oeuvres, a rocking band, entertainers like stilt walkers and jugglers, on-site ghost tours and a special surprise performance, it’s the party of the season. Get your tickets early since it’s sure to sell out.
For tickets and more information on Dickens on Centre, visit AmeliaIsland.com/Dickens.