The Rochester Dickensian Christmas celebrations will take place on
This year the Ball will be on Saturday December 2nd - the box office is now open for bookings!
Ball News update here
Scroll down the page or click here to see our latest festival news.
Medway Council has set up a Dickensian Christmas web page here
We understand that the 2018 Rochester Dickens Festival will be a two day event on Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd June 2018 (local half term week) and the Dickensian Christmas will be Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd December 2018.
Can we help the City of Rochester Society? Yes we can! On August 13th we asked if anybody had a copy of the programme for the first Dickens Festival in 1979 for a history of the City of Rochester Society Rob Flood is writing. Within eight hours Mark Dennis had seen the request on our Facebook page, unearthed his copy and scanned it for us! Such is the power of the social network.
We are also trying to set up a picture archive for the festivals for this website. If you have anything from the early years please contact us.
Dickens Festival 9-11 June 2017
James Hefferson was taking photographs the Victorian way, and developing them in front of the subject. Queen Victoria had her picture taken, but we don't think she was amused! With his permission we have included a small reproduction of his picture alongside our picture of her majesty in our festival album. James has made his pictures available to view or buy on his website - www.theluminary.co.uk
If you have any pictures you would like to share with us this is how to do it.
This year the Dickens Festival moved back a week from its usual weekend to be part of Medway's celebration of the 350th anniversary of the Battle of the Medway. This seems to have led to slightly reduced attandance, but apart from the Friday the weather was hot and dry.
We would like to give a special mention to Samantha and Janan from Hong Kong, who made it to the festival - they even managed to book for the Dickens Ball! Their efforts were rewarded when they found themselves on the 'top table' with deputy mayoress Cllr Gloria Opara.
A great loss this year was the absence of Ashley and Shirley, and their 'wing man' Brian. They reluctantly had to give up running the Festival competitions, which has been their unpaid job for virtually all of the 39 years the festival has been running, and the events team at Medway Council was unable to find volunteers in time to set up the necessary arrangements. This years theme was 'Pickwick Papers', or more strictly 'The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club', Charles Dickens' first novel. Unfortunately without a competition we can't bring you the 'best dressed adult character'.
On the day it was good to see Ashley and Shirley looking relaxed as part of the crowd!
Another loss to the festival was that Ashley has had to give up running the Festival Ball after many years of making it his own. Sue Haydock stepped up to the plate to run the event, assisted by regulars John and Sheila, Ray and Linda, Eddie and Barbara, and Chris and Chrissie. Following a consultation and some lobbying the format was changed to use different caterers and make the event more 'Victorian'. The number attending was about the same as at the summer Ball in recent years. Everybody was invited to complete a survey, and the organisers have taken note for the Mistletoe Ball.
The new caterers received a 'thumbs up' but for the Mistletoe Ball they will be providing full waitress service. In keeping with the Christmas spirit music will be provided by Tony Ellingham and his band, and there will be a wide range of dance styles from 'old time' through to ballroom and some more modern. Click here for more information
The Mistletoe Ball will be on December 2nd - click here
We have heard of what really is a fantastic offer for the right person! It is genuine.
'A fantastic opportunity for Dickensian Couples, (20 needed over 18) dressed in Ball gowns must be authentically dressed, no Bridesmaid dresses please, and dancing to a waltz to take part in 2 Parades ( lasting 2 hours over 2 evenings, so will need to be fit, this is a stop perform walk, stop perform walk parade) in Foshan a city in China that has sister city status with Medway, they are offering a reduced airfare ( as of yet I don't know if it's a 1/4 off or 1/2 ) 3 to 4 nights stay in hotel, food and transport paid for in Foshan, I don't know the dates yet, but it usually at the end of October beginning of November.
'As of yet I don't know if it will be a direct flight to a city near Foshan or to Hong Kong for 1 night and a train to Foshan, then return to Hong Kong where people would be free to stay over.... and to sightsee and return to the UK themselves, the Hotel in Hong Kong is not included in the offer. If you're interested please e.mail me on email@example.com '
We have now lost four good friends of the festivals since Christmas. Robin Burfoot, the town crier of Medway since 2004 died of heart failure on 22nd March 2017. Until his recent health problems he was regularly seen at events all around Medway, including the Rochester festivals.
Keith Biddlecombe passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 6th March. Keith was a regular and much loved participant at the Dickens Festivals as well as being a regular and very visible helper at the Dickens costume sales. We feel the loss particularly because Vicki is an administrator and regular contributor for our Facebook page.
We are sad to report that Harvey Haynes, who was a supporter of the Dickens festivals over many years passed away at the end of January.
We have also lost Marion Stokes, who passed away in January. Our condolences to her husband Joe, also a great supporter of the Festivals.
There are short tributes on our 'Sadly Missed' page.
Dates for Dickens events in 2017