Downtown Riverside will be transformed into a Victorian-era London marketplace this weekend for the 20th annual “Dickens Festival,” celebrating famed novelist Charles Dickens’ life and times.
Mission Inn Avenue will be the hub of activity, teeming with more than 150 characters straight out of Dickens’ 19th century classics.
This year’s events will highlight Dickens’ 10th novel, “Hard Times,” complete with theatrical performances, pageants, music, speeches, historical recreations and children’s activities, according to organizers.
At 9:45 a.m. Saturday, the Gordon Highlanders will mark the start of weekend fare by hoisting the Union Jack outside in front of the Metropolitan Museum, located at Orange and Mission Inn.
From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oliver’s Alley will be open adjacent to the museum, featuring storytelling and songs, along with tea parties, balloon- making and children’s games.
Hyde Park Corner will sport characters representing Dickens, Queen Victoria, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allen Poe, Mark Twain and Oscar Wilde.
Merchants will sell food and wares reminiscent of an 1840s London bazaar throughout the day, interspersed with caroling and dancing, along the avenue.
At 8 p.m., Mr. Fezziwig’s Ball is planned at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium, 3485 Mission Inn Ave., where costumed characters and celebrants will enjoy ale, food, jigs and reels, with music by the Philadelphia Quadrille Band.
Sunday’s highlights will include a fashion show at 10:30 a.m. at the Municipal Auditorium; the “Grand Dickens Parade” will travel down Mission Inn Avenue at 12:30 p.m., followed by a drill and firing demonstration by the Gordon Highlanders on Lemon Street; at 3 p.m., a “Queen’s Tea,” featuring Victoria and her courtiers, will be held at the First Congregational Church, 3755 Lemon St.
Closing ceremonies, with remarks by the queen, will take place at 5 p.m. at Mission Inn and Orange.