THOUSANDS of people are expected to flood into Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard this weekend as the venue’s annual Christmas festival gets into full swing.
The Dickens Christmas Festival, known formerly as the Victorian Festival of Christmas, will be running all weekend, with proceedings kicking off in spectacular fashion yesterday.
With a swelling cast of actors dressed as Dickens’ most popular characters – from Ebenezer Scrooge to Oliver Twist – along with a number of market stalls and other attractions, the event has already won praise from visitors, who say it is even better than years gone by.
Jan Bailey, from Fareham, said: ‘It’s been very good indeed.
‘The weather so far has been perfect – I hope it holds out for the weekend.
‘It’s nice to see everyone dressed up in character; it definitely gets you in the mood for Christmas.
Her husband, Bill, added: ‘We’ve been a couple of times before; the tavern has been really good with the rock and roll music.
‘It feels like there’s more going on here than in years gone by.’
George Crane, 73 from Oxfordshire, said: ‘This is about the fourth year I’ve come down here and it’s been absolutely brilliant.
‘They put on a fantastic show with lots of actors here – we’ve been able to meet lots of the cast so as a family day out you couldn’t ask for better.
‘It is as good as it has ever been and the fact that the ticket includes everything at the Dockyard, like HMS Victory and the Mary Rose, is great.’
Alan and Esme Styles, both 79 from Andover, had travelled down to Portsmouth specifically for the event.
Alan said: ‘I must say, seeing everybody dressed up is absolutely excellent.
‘We’ve been to a lot of Christmas festivals in the area and I think this one is better than many of the others – there’s just so much to do and look at.
‘You can tell that a lot of time and effort has gone into making this festival happen.’
Esme added: ‘We have been to the Historic Dockyard before but never for this festival – having everyone in period costume is just so much fun.’
Tickets for the event are still available for purchase online.
Anyone interested can go to historicdockyard.co.uk/dickens-christmas