Chestertown’s twist on an annual Victorian Christmas festival

By Blake Batten

Elm Staff Writer

“A Victorian Extravaganza, a Dickens of a Christmas” is appearing in historic Chestertown from Dec. 6-8.

Downtown will put on its best face for a variety of events on Festive First Friday, Splendid Saturday, and Sunday Funday.

This is the event’s third year in downtown Chestertown. For this year, it will include holiday house tours, afternoon tea, book readings, and the “Run like the Dickens” 5K. Various shops will host events, shows, readings, or a booth at London Row on Saturday.

Shops like Angela’s Cottage, whose owner and family are alumni of Washington College, are prepping era appropriate candles and candle sticks, gloves, new pottery, and tea pots. They also designed a Victorian Christmas window display and will have a booth at London’s Row.

There will also be a holiday themed farmers market with Victorian performers roaming the streets.

The Bookplate, which has over 500 different editions of Dickens’ work in the shop, is hosting various authors to give book talks on Saturday. Some talks will feature Chestertown’s own authors, Mathew Swanson and Robbi Behr, reading the third volume of their “The Real McCoy’s” book.

Assistant Professor of Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Literature Dr. Katherine Charles will deliver a talk on “The Making of ‘A Christmas Carol’” at The Bookplate on Saturday. Her talk includes information about the social biographical context of the novel.

This year, she is presenting with Dr. Michelle Allen-Emerson, a fellow Dickensian colleague from the English Department at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Dr. Allen-Emerson’s talk is entitled, “Why We Still Read ‘A Christmas Carol.’” She discusses why “A Christmas Carol” is important today and how contemporary audiences respond to it.

“[It is] exciting to bring another Dickens scholar to the Eastern Shore, but especially to share this opportunity to present our work to the broader public of Chestertown, visiting Dickens fans, and the college community,” Dr. Charles said. “It is valuable to spend time thinking about how Dickens is still relevant today, and it is heartening for a literary scholar that he can still pack a room.”

The Bookplate will also host Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post Michael Dirda. He will talk about the contemporaries of Dickens.

According to Tom Martin, owner of The Bookplate, they are excited to host the various authors, support the festival and other shop owners, and contribute to people having a good time.

Throughout Saturday, there will also be street performers, fire dancers, the North American Celtic Band The American Rogues, carriage rides, Victorian-era games, ornament painting, a visit from Santa, and more.

Sunday’s main event is the “Run like the Dickens” 5K race/walk. According to the TriSports Charitable Events website, participants will run through historic downtown, starting and finishing on High Street.

The run costs $25 to participate, or people can donate and not participate. Proceeds from many of the events will benefit the local food pantry.

Also occurring on Sunday is a Victorian Fashion Show. Tickets are $50 each and attendance is by reservation on Eventbrite.

All this and more will ring in the upcoming holiday season. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *