Charles Dickens, the literary giant who brought us through the trials and tribulations of the common man and the downtrodden through inspired and memorable stories, will once again be the focus of our internationally celebrated Charles Dickens Festival. The festival begins on Friday November 30th, proceeds through Saturday, December 1, culminating with a spectacular all new giant puppet parade to end the festivities on Sunday, December 2. Brought to you by the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council in cooperation with the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson, friends and families from across the North East will gather to celebrate the beloved author as we once again turn our quaint seaport village into a living Dickens stage.

Born Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870), Charles Dickens was arguably the literary superstar of his age, a status that lives on today. Ever the champion of the common man and the downtrodden, his inventive genius has inspired theatrical performance and a parade of films that portray the drama and redemption of life as a central theme. From A Tale of Two Cities to A Christmas Carol, Dickens managed to create some of literature’s most iconic and memorable personalities. Dickens made his first trip to the United States and Canada in 1842, a journey that included a popular reading tour, and meetings with Washington Irving, William Cullen Bryant and President John Tyler. His second US reading tour in 1867 and 1868 included American notables Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Dickens’ American publisher James Thomas Fields.

The Festival will begin on the late afternoon of Friday, December 30th with the beloved tradition of the Lantern Dedication. Lanterns throughout the Village have been dedicated to honor the memories of dear neighbors and friends, and new lanterns will be the gathering place for family and friends. This year’s dedications will include lanterns in Memorial Park on our beautiful harborfront, and at the landmark blinking light near the ferry. The Opening Ceremony follows, when the people of Port Jefferson turn over their Village to the folks of the Dickens Village for the weekend.

The Crystal Ball will be the very brightest highlight of Friday evening’s revelry, with dining and dancing a-plenty. This year, we proudly honor and celebrate Port Jefferson’s good neighbor, Fred Hall.

Rediscover one of the favorite activities of the nineteenth century: the ice skating rink at the Village Center will be open from 10 AM to 10 PM on Saturday, and from 10 AM to 6 PM on Sunday. Skates will be available for rent, or you can bring your own pair. Skaters who arrive in full Dickens regalia will receive a special reduced admission.

The festivities will include many returning favorites: stirring performance by choirs and harmony groups, and many other fine musical performances by area musicians and children’s groups. Ride in a horse-drawn carriage or on an old-fashioned Trolley.

Local restaurants will continue the tradition of offering Victorian-themed dinners throughout the weekend, and festival-goers will be able to dine in grand fashion, or on hearty fare as they choose. Christ Church Episcopal on Barnum Avenue will open its doors to all for the annual St. Nicholas Inn of assorted soups and breads served in humble Dickens style, and with the added fun of a chinese auction and stocking stuffers. They will also present their annual Chocolate Extravaganza!

Charles Dickens was the most influential and successful English writer of the nineteenth century. An impassioned advocate of the poor, he toured the United States during the last years of his life, reading his works to the public. One of his most enduring tales is A Christmas Carol, as relevant today as the day he first envisioned the tale of a hard heart redeemed. The Port Jefferson Free Library will sponsor its annual Dickens Reading Marathon beginning on Sunday at 1:30 PM and ending at 4:30 PM. Dramatic readings near the library’s blazing fireplace will brighten the day, with schoolchildren and adults reading their favorite Dickens selections aloud. The Library invites one and all to visit its YA Center across the street on Saturday from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00PM.

A Christmas Carol Radio Show recalls a simpler time, when families gathered around the radio, and were swept up by the narratives, vividly enlivened by their own imaginations. This timeless story is brought to life by costumed actors who perform before the eyes of the audience, adding another dimension to the well-loved tale.

On Sunday, the Village is very proud to host a special reading by the NYC-based Literary Society, the Friends of Charles Dickens. They will present selected passages of the works of Mr. Dickens, in honor of the 200th Anniversary of his birth.

Scrooge’s long-suffering housekeeper, Mrs. Dilber, shares stories about life with the world’s most famous crotchety miser, untold before now! She makes Mr. Dickens’ A Christmas Carol come alive with the use of her favorite co-star: YOU! Prepare for history, mystery, a wee bit of mayhem and high spirits!

A favorite returns: the Great Wizard of the North will amaze and dazzle both the young and the young at heart with his prodigious feats of prestidigitation!

The historic Roe House at the corner of Barnum Avenue and west Broadway will again be a sparkling scene as Santa’s Workshop returns to our Village. Santa Claus and his Elves come to life, welcoming young and old to visit Santa’s Workshop. Visitors will be enthralled with the enchantment of Christmas as they meander through his whimsical workshop to visit with Santa himself. Delight in the magical confection vignettes orchestrated by Pat Darling, acclaimed confection artist. Sugar trees and toy soldiers embellish the displays that have appeared in national publications. A memorable experience to be enjoyed by all…

The talented and award-winning master musicians of Artesian Collaborative based at C.W.Post will entertain and delight in a recital featuring The Nutcracker performed for four guitars. Led by Harris Becker, this very special concert is being presented for its only appearance this year at the Dickens Festival.

Harbor Ballet Theater reprises The Nutcracker for its 21st season at Port Jefferson High School. This beloved ballet of a child’s toys come to life was created by Tchaikovsky in the latter part of the Victorian era, and becomes ever more magical each year. The beautiful fairy tale of Clara, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is presented at 8:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with matinees at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For information and tickets call (631) 331-3149.

Housed in the historic 128-year-old Athena Hall, Theater Three will be presenting a delightful pairing of holiday productions. This year’s Festival marks Theater Three’s 29th Annual production of A Christmas Carol. A delightful diversion, this classic ghost story of the season has become a cherished tradition for many.

Theater Three will also be presenting a special show of Barnaby Saves Christmas on Saturday morning, Setting out to prove that they are not too small to help Santa, Barnaby (Santa’s littlest elf) and Franklynne (his reindeer friend) stumble across the wicked S.B. Dombelbury, who is trying to ruin Christmas. On their journey, they enlist the help of some very special friends and learn the true meaning of Christmas, Hanukkah, and the holiday season.

After the evening shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can have your photo taken with Scrooge. As a special memento, the little ones can have their picture taken with Santa after Saturday morning’s presentation of Barnaby Saves Christmas. A $5 donation for each photo is requested, be it with Scrooge or Santa, which will go the Theater Three Scholarship Fund.

The reindeer will visit Port Jefferson on Saturday and Sunday from 12 Noon – 4:00 PM outside Once Upon A Christmas behind Harbor Square Mall. Reindeer travel further than any other terrestrial mammal, and these enchanting creatures are related to the famous troop that pulls Santa’s sleigh on his epic journey each Christmas Eve. These handsome and gentle animals will be on view weather permitting.

Santa Claus and his Elves come to life, welcoming young and old to visit Santa’s Workshop. Visitors will be enthralled with the enchantment of Christmas as they meander through his whimsical workshop to visit with Santa himself. Delight in the magical confection vignettes orchestrated by Pat Darling, acclaimed confection artist. Sugar trees and toy soldiers embellish the displays that have appeared in national publications. A memorable experience to be enjoyed by all…

Suffolk Masonic Lodge No. 60 will hold their second Annual Gingerbread House Contest during the Dickens Festival. The contest will be held downstairs at the Masonic Lodge, 312 Main Street, Port Jefferson. All gingerbread houses must be made of 100% edible materials. Prizes will be awarded on Saturday at noon, and the wonderful creations will be on view the throughout the weekend.

The Masonic Brotherhood requests either a nonperishable food item or a donation of at least $1.00 from each adult viewer. Kids enter free (but cans of food are always welcome). All food donations and a portion of the monetary proceeds will benefit the Welcome Inn food pantry. Santa Claus will be available periodically throughout the weekend for photographs. Official contest rules available upon request. Contact Bro. Gary Lindemann at 631-821-2410 or idrek1@optonline.net

Mr. Fezziwig’s Dance Party is named for one of the most famous scenes in A Christmas Carol, where young Ebeneezer Scrooge joins in the party as kind Mr. Fezziwig closes the shop early so that all may partake in holiday merriment. Musicians from the Long Island Traditional Music Association and a dance caller perform tunes and airs of the era on period musical instruments. The dress for the event is comfortable garb, suitable for high-spirited dancing. Our guests may wear either modern or Victorian finery as the spirit moves them. English Country Dance is for people who dance for fun, for exercise, for sociability—the same reasons folks did these dances 300 years ago. If you can walk and know the difference between left and right, you already have the basics. Every dance is prompted by a caller, so that each figure and movement is called in time to the music and you don’t need to know the dances in advance. You can come by yourself, as our tradition is to change partners for each dance. All ages are welcome, and the dance promises to be a truly splendid evening. Saturday evening at the Masonic Lodge, Main Street.

Mother Goose invites one and all to come in out of the cold, and enjoy Storybook Time with Mother Goose. Step into a magical world of beloved tales and wide-eyed wonder, and create childhood memories that will last a lifetime!

Experience hands-on interactive exhibits at the Maritime Explorium: Build, create and explore! Special events and activities for the Dickens Festival: Enjoy hot cider and freshly popped popcorn. Watch as real steam powered ships set sail. Build and decorate your own mini Mag Lev sled and test it on our magnetic track!

In addition to all of our ongoing interactive nautical adventures, join us on Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 to 5:00 PM for favorite childhood activities. Information about us is available by logging onto www.maritimeexplorium.org. Admission $5.00 per person and includes all of our regular exhibits.

Chandlery Building, 101 East Broadway.

The Toys For Tots Railroad will return to the beautiful Belle Terre Community Center, 55 Cliff Road, where it will showcase this amazing train exhibit on 4 different levels! This Large Scale Train Layout boasts 40 Trains running over a winter wonderland – the largest of its kind on Long Island! Come see the Blue Comet, Santa Fe Streamliner, American and European Trains, and of course, Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends James the Red Engine and Percy. Free parking at the Belle Terre Community Center on Cliff Road, or take the trolley from the Dickens Festival in Downtown Port Jefferson. Hours are Friday from 4:00PM to 8:00PM, Saturday – Noon to 8:00PM and Sunday from Noon to 8:00PM. As a special treat, the railroad builders will set up a special petite display in the Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 East Broadway. Please bring a new, unwrapped toy so that a child may share in the joy of the Holiday Season. Donations of money are not required, but are appreciated, and will benefit Toys for Tots.

Visit the Bayles Boat Shop Saturday and Sunday from noon to 2:00 PM. The Long Island Seaport and Eco Center is housed in the Bayles Boat Shop next to the skating rink at Harborfront Park. LISEC is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting an appreciation, awareness, and understanding of maritime history and the marine environment. For information about LISEC, please log onto www.lisec.org

This highly-acclaimed and popular vocal and guitar duo The Solstice Singers will present a unique performance of winter songs. Stuart Markus and Hillary Foxsong will lead the audience in singing old favorites and unexpected treats, including some lovely evocative tunes from Victorian England, which are sure to perk up the ears and warm the heart. They will visit the Dickens Festival for one performance only, on Friday evening at the Masonic Lodge on Main Street.

Lord Byron’s writing, inspired by his travels to Greece, was a source of fascination for Charles Dickens when he was a budding author. The Rhythmos Children’s Dancers of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Assumption will be performing at the Harbormaster’s Building on West Broadway. They have created skits highlighted by folk dances, which were performed during the 19th century in the Corinth area of Greece. Between performances by the Rhythmos Dancers, the Children’s Choir of the Church of the Assumption will sing holiday carols in English and in Greek.

This year, talented chamber ensemble students from Comsewogue High School String Ensemble will showcase their talents in a very special holiday program on Sunday afternoon at Island Christian Church.

With beautiful voices and lovely stringed instruments, many noted songbirds bring light and warmth to the holiday season with their sweet voices, Victorian dresses and welcoming smiles. Denise Romas strums favorites for all to sing along, Robin Greenstein and Cecilia Kirtland present songs of many cultures, while Marie O’Connell and Candace Baranello perform a unique program on guitar and mountain dulcimer, instruments popular during the time of Dickens.

The Voices of Christmas is an original, heartwarming tale written by Long Island stage duo James Carey & Jessie Maldonado tells the story of a 1940s radio studio performing A Christmas Carol live on Christmas Eve.  Despite numerous technical and interpersonal issues, the show comes to life as the employees all find their much-needed redemption. One performance only on Saturday night at the Port Jefferson Village Center.

Talented young musicians from the School of Rock will treat you to an unforgettable show of unplugged Holiday favorites! Sunday afternoon in the Harbormaster’s Building, Town of Brookhaven Lot, West Broadway.

Young Master Craftsmen from Old Bethpage Village Restoration will demonstrate the art of making the most necessary household item of the Dickensian era. Handmade brooms and hand-crafted completely practical Victorian era hats will be available for purchase.

Dickens Comes Alive! Our talented and beloved Street Characters welcome a new and exciting addition to the festivities: live performances of The Old Curiosity Shop, Pip’s Story and Scrooge’s Dream will take place on our very streets. Look for special locations and performance times along East Main Street, Wynn Lane, and Main Street.

Paintings by Night Heron Artists, and photos of Dickens Festivals Past by acclaimed area photographer John Griffin will be on display at the Port Jefferson Village Center throughout the Festival.