Festive season starts here

Actors in character at the Victorian Festival of Christmas at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Actors in character at the Victorian Festival of Christmas at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.
Portsmouth & Southsea railway station by Andy Cooper

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It may not be quite December yet, but the Christmas decorations are in the shops and almost everyone has got their festive shopping for gifts under way. So it’s the perfect time to start celebrating.

The annual Victorian Festival of Christmas is running from November 30-December 2 at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. This year’s festival is extra special as it’s the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens.

The family weekend is bringing a magical new stage with a Victorian Father Christmas, dressed in green, who will be greeting everyone alongside his trusty reindeer and elves.

Hampshire Fare traders will be returning again for food lovers to sample local produce including jams, chutneys, honey, biltong, fudge and freshly-baked bread.

There’s also the chance to stock up on some Christmas treats with steaming mulled wine and roasted chestnuts.

Families can browse the trade stalls on the snow-covered Victorian streets along with members of the Dickensian Society, from the gentry to families shopping.

Characters such as Miss Havisham from Great Expectations , Oliver Twist and his gang and Scrooge and his ghosts from A Christmas Carol will be at the festival, and there will be street games such as hopscotch and patter-cake.

The Georgian storehouses at the Historic Dockyard will be transformed into a bazaar of arts, crafts, food, drinks and gifts with hundreds of stalls, and the Boutique Market will be bringing back handmade items, artists’ work, recycled fashion, vintage items and retro objects from local businesses.

Other attractions at the festival will include Alexander’s Travelling Show with magic and illusions, fire-eating and juggling, as well as traditional carol singers.

You may even spot Queen Victoria and Mr Brown as they inspect the Fort Cumberland Guard and the rest of the festivities in their traditional horse-drawn carriage.

The Historic Dockyard will also be home to a number of rides with a Merry-Go-Round and a Chair-O-Plane for a small extra charge.

Steam engines and miniature railways will also be on display.

The Victorian Festival of Christmas is open from 10am until 6pm. Tickets cost £16 for adults, £14 for children, £15 for seniors and £49 for a family.

For more information go to christmasfestival.co.uk.