Shop, Eat, and Dress Up!

Preview by Aurora Frewin

Photos supplied by Citadel Theatre

Cheerfully stroll down the Pavilion of Lights while dressed in 19th Century “Dickensian” attire, snacking on locally made treats, reminiscing eloquent teas, and anticipating a delectable Christmas feast that even Ebenezer Scrooge couldn’t refuse!

During the festive season, the Citadel Theatre has partnered with the Downtown Business Association for their second year of Dickens Fest. The Lee Pavilion will be dazzling with hundreds of lights, as well as displays of the Citadel’s original A Christmas Carol Victorian Shop fronts from Merry Town. The Citadel’s 19th Century décor is a collaboration with their partners, Etc. Décor and River City Events. 

Inspired by the Dickens Festijin (Dickens Festival) in Deventer, Netherlands, Edmonton builds on its “exuberant embrace of its status as a Winter City”, as the festival brings Dickens to Edmonton. Dickens Fest will include a Holiday Market, Holiday Teas, and a Scrooge Soirée Long-Table Holiday Dinner. To take part in the 19th Century scene, Dickensian attire is available for rent at Theatre Garage, with a 20% off discount using the password BAH HUMBUG.

The market

The festival kicks off with a Sip & Shop market event on November 27 from 4:00pm to 9:00pm. In the centre of the Pavilion of Lights, a Holiday Market will be filled with vendors, potentially dressed in their Victorian best, and offering special deals. The purchase of the Sip & Shop voucher ($15 ticket +fees & GST) includes a beverage and access to these exclusive vendor offers. Yummy treats from local vendors like La Carraia Gelato or Prairie Gardens, books or games from Audrey’s Books or Table Top Café, will be available, and local artists will be in attendance. 

Not only is this a great way to make a dent in that Christmas list, but what could be better than eating some yummy treats and parading in Victorian clothing? The regular market hours will run November 28 and 29 from 10:00am to 4:00pm, and November 30, December 5,6, and 7 from 11:00am to 7:00pm.

The teas

Those who are not familiar with “Dickensian” tea etiquette will be in good hands, as performers from Fort Edmonton Park will guide guests through authentic Victorian high tea manners. This 19th Century tea will include “tasty finger-food treats on a tiered tray”, catered by The Hallway café and Takeaway, while beverages will be provided by the Citadel’s Second Cup. If some attendees are looking for drinks that are not period, mimosas and other beverages can be purchased at the Citadel’s bar. Out of all the events, I cannot wait to sit primly at a decorated table while having some tea and delicacies in 19th Century apparel.

Four Holiday Teas will be held on November 30, December 1, 7, and 8 from 11:00am to 1:00pm. Tickets are priced at $45.15 with Gluten Free and Vegetarian options during purchase. The first tea session is already sold out, and there’s limited seating with the rest. If you don’t want to miss a chance to drink tea 19th Century style, book online to catch the other sessions! 

The Holiday Dinner

Lastly, sit down to a fancy long table with fancy décor and food, and live entertainment. Dickens Fest is hosting a Scrooge Soirée Long-Table Holiday Dinner on Monday December 2 at 5:30pm.

The holiday feast will include Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup Maple Crème Fraiche, SousVide Cooked Free Range Turkey Roualde Sage Apricot, Brioche Stuffing, Root Vegetables with maple glaze, Buttermilk Whipped Potatoes, and desert – a bread pudding with caramel sauce.

Dinner includes entertainment from Jessie Award-winning performer Alison MacDonald ,who has previously played in Legends of Carnegie and other shows across Canada. Staring as Emily Cratchit in this year’s A Christmas Carol, she will sing at the event, accompanied by a guest pianist. While dinner guests get a sneak-peek into the production, they get to dive into the Christmas feast catered, buffet style, by Fairmont Hotel. 

Tickets for the fancy Scrooge dinner can be purchased online for $255.15 or $265.65.

Although Dickens Fest has a Holiday Market, Holiday Teas, and a Scrooge dinner, there seems to be no one central event. However, hundreds of attendees went to the all the events last year, the teas selling out.

If there is one event that I would attend, it would be the tea. The Pavilion of Lights and the market is for all ages, but it is recommended that children six and up attend the teas and dinner. This festival is sure to be bright and delicious! You can purchase tickets at the Citadel Theatre website.