Dockyard gets ready for Victorian festival

Portsmouth Dockyard Victorian Festival of Christmas. Picture: Holly Westwood
Portsmouth Dockyard Victorian Festival of Christmas. Picture: Holly Westwood

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Portsmouth Historic Dockyard will go back to the Victorian era once again this weekend for a popular event.

The Victorian Christmas Festival starts tomorrow and runs until Sunday and features many stalls and attractions.

This year will also have a new exhibition based on Sherlock Holmes, the famous fictional detective created by Portsmouth’s own Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Over the three days, a Christmas market will be set up offering gifts, food and drinks, clothing, jewellery, arts and crafts and homeware to the 26,000 people who are expected to visit the festival.

Amongst the stalls, there will be street entertainment including musicians, choirs and historic figures.

There is also a trail for visitors to follow which lead to Sherlock Holmes and his trusty sidekick Dr Watson.

Father Christmas, dressed in traditional green, will also be making an appearance in a musical by Cop the Needle Productions.

The Portsmouth-based theatre company will be putting on a show called Santa Loses Weight which was written by directors Stuart Olesker and John Stanton.

John said: ‘We were asked last year to do the Santa’s stage and it was more of an experiment.

‘But we were asked again to do it this year and we are really looking forward to it.

‘The show will be performed four times a day throughout the festival and is about Santa trying to lose weight.

‘We have been doing lots of rehearsals to get it right but we are really looking forward to it. It should be fun.’

As well as organising characters for the show, the production team also has a shanty choir.

The five-strong team, called the Powder Monkeys, will be welcoming visitors as they enter the dockyard and will also be performing throughout the weekend.

Stuart Olesker added: ‘It is very exciting to be a part of the festival and the shanty group are very good.

‘Together with the Santa show, I think we will keep guests entertained.’

Tickets can be bought on the day or pre-ordered by visiting

Don’t miss the four-page Victorian Christmas Festival guide in The News on Saturday.