by Emilee Perdue | November 1, 2023

Deck the Halls With Dickens On Centre

Celebrate a Victorian-era Christmas at Amelia Island's signature holiday festival full of can't-miss seasonal merriment.

Dickens on Centre’s 2022 drop shoe above Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach. Photography by Deremer Studios LLC.

Don your top hats, bonnets and petticoats and stroll the streets of downtown Fernandina Beach, where Charles Dickens’s classic novel A Christmas Carol comes to life. Living in a state of perpetual sunshine and warm temperatures can sometimes make it difficult to get into the traditional merry-making mood. But at Dickens on Centre, an immersive Victorian holiday experience, even the biggest of Scrooges will be belting out a carol or two by the end of this jolly, jam-packed four-day festival. 

The ninth annual Dickens celebration combines Christmas cheer and Southern charm to honor Amelia Island’s historical links to Victorian England. Also known as the Isle of Eight Flags, this small seaport has been ruled by eight different governments, including Great Britain—the island was named after King George II’s daughter, Princess Amelia. During this time, many iconic holiday traditions came about, such as caroling, gift giving and tree lighting. With so many historical buildings still intact, plus a picturesque downtown, there’s no better place in Florida to host Dickens on Centre’s several spirited fetes. 

Dine inside a snow globe at the Dickens Enchanted Village. Photography by Deremer Studios LLC.

Dining and Dazzlement

A collection of free theatrical performances and musical numbers take place across two stages throughout the festival. Entertainment includes a one-man A Christmas Carol performance, an Alice in A Christmas Wonderland ensemble production, appearances by the Amelia Community Theatre and the Amelia Island Opera, and a new show, The Little Toy Shoppe. The merriment expands off the stages and onto the sidewalks with jugglers, acrobats and stilt walkers, all decked out in Victorian garb and milling about with festivalgoers and vendors. 

Between shows, commemorate this year’s holiday season with a night under the stars—and inside a snow globe! The Dickens Enchanted Village houses eight life-sized transparent igloos, hosting you and up to five other guests for a magical evening of dining and dazzlement. Graze on curated charcuterie boxes and sip from your favorite wine, beer or bubbly, all while in the comfort of your own personal snow globe.

Wear your finest Victorian-era garb for Dickens on Centre. Photography by Deremer Studios LLC.

Naughty and Nice

Need to make sure you’re on the nice list? Meet jolly St. Nick himself at Tiny Tim’s Kid Zone, which includes games, holiday movies and stationery to write letters to Santa. And once the children are all snug in their beds, those on the naughty list can sneak off to Dickens After Dark, an exclusive 21 and older Victorian-era costume party held in the historic Lesesne House on Centre Street. Built in the mid-1800s, it’s one of the oldest residences in Fernandina Beach and has formal dining rooms and parlors perfectly decorated for Christmas. Toast to winter wonder—and to an open beer and wine bar—while enjoying live music and circus performers. At the end of the night, catch a glimpse of the Ghost of Christmas Past on a walking ghost tour led by the Amelia Island Museum of History. 

More Yuletide delights include the Illuminated Procession, a walking parade with homemade lanterns and custom decorations that kick off the weekend, and the Run Like the Dickens fun run, a one-mile race on the beach the morning of Saturday, Dec. 9. With four days full of festivities and a quick conversation with Ebenezer Scrooge about the true meaning of Christmas, you and your loved ones will be counting down the days until Dec. 25. But just like buying presents, you won’t want to wait until the last minute to make reservations or buy tickets for these spirited soirees—they fill up fast! Transcend time, and fall into seasonal enchantment at Amelia Island’s Dickens on Centre, happening Dec. 7-10.