Under a canopy of twinkling lights on Amelia Island, the annual Dickens on Centre festival (Dec. 7-10) will once again transform historic downtown Fernandina Beach into the largest Christmas Market in Northeast Florida. The 2023 event, free to the public, will offer an immersive Victorian holiday experience featuring stages adorned with entertainers, vendor booths decked with holiday gifts, music filling the air, and shops bustling day and night with good cheer.
Here are the Top 10 special events taking place during this year’s multifaceted holiday celebration:
Dickens Illuminated Procession (Dec. 7, 5 p.m.): The kick-off parade begins at the Fernandina Harbor Marina on Front Street. Participation in the procession is free and food will be available for purchase from local food trucks. Participants are encouraged to bring battery-operated, illuminated lanterns or something that shines, glows or twinkles to carry along the way.
Run Like the Dickens (Dec. 9, 8:30 a.m.): “Run Like the Dickens” during this 1-mile fun-run on Amelia Island Main Beach. Everyone is welcome, including four-legged furry friends.
Dickens After Dark (Dec. 9, 5 p.m.): Join us for the exclusive Victorian costume party of the holiday season. The historic Lesesne House on Centre Street in downtown Fernandina Beach is transformed for this VIP, 21 and over soiree, complete with stilt walkers, jugglers, an amazing Fire & Ice Show by Kristen Sparrow Circus, and live music from the incomparable Mama Blue. Never the same experience year after year, expect loads of fun, gorgeous outfits, great food, and even a surprise or two. Be sure to don your best Victorian ensemble and dress to impress.
Dickens Dining & Drinks (Dec. 1-10): Get ready to kick your Bah Humbugs to the curb on the Dickens Dining & Drinks mobile trail, where the island’s most popular dining and drinking hot spots will offer holiday-inspired specials guaranteed to impress your tastebuds.
Dickens Enchanted Village (Dec. 8-10): Reserve your magical hour in one of eight festive domes, each decorated in a unique holiday theme. The one-hour experience can accommodate up to six people and includes a private snow globe, and a delicious charcuterie grazing box curated by Luxe Picnics by Les. Snow globes will also be equipped for any kind of weather this year thanks to Snyder Air Conditioning, Plumbing & Electric. Come early and enjoy the Enchanted Village tavern, The Portly Gentleman, with a selection of red or white wine, beer and bubbly. The Portly Gentleman was new last year and is returning this year to the Enchanted Village. Have a glass or purchase a bottle to accompany your grazing box. Be advised: the forecast is calling for snow.
Portraits with St. Nick (Dec. 8-10): St. Nick is setting up his workshop in Tiny Tim’s Kid Zone. Capture the moment with a treasured keepsake photo from Boston Photography. Various time slots are available.
Parade of Paws (Dec. 9, 11:30 a.m.): Featuring all the best-dressed local dogs and pets, this year’s parade will start at 4th & Centre Streets and end at the Wharf Main Stage. Prizes will be awarded for Best Victorian, Most Original, Looks Most Like Owner, and top 3 overall, provided by Redbones Dog Bakery.
Entertainment (Dec. 8-10): From theatrical performances and costumed characters to musical acts and visits from Jolly Old St. Nick, the entertainment lineup offers something for everyone. The crowd will turn their eyes to the skies over the harbor on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings for a magical lighted, 3D drone-show. The impressive part about the drone shows this year is that we're taking it from a 2D show to a 3D show!
Oliver’s Eats (Dec. 8-10): Located at the end of Oliver’s Alley, an assortment of food trucks and local vendors will be offering an array of yummy eats throughout the festival.
Fezziwig’s Courtyard (Dec. 8-10): Fezziwig’s Courtyard is a delightful and nostalgic experience that transports visitors to a bygone era of joy, generosity, and holiday cheer, much like the spirit of Mr. Fezziwig in Charles Dickens’ timeless tale. Enjoy the main stage entertainment while sipping holiday beverages served by Marlin & Barrel.
For a complete list of events, as well as special offers and packages from Amelia Island’s collection of award-winning hotels, beds and breakfasts, and resorts, visit AmeliaIsland.com/Festivals-and-Events.
*All activities are subject to change. Advanced notice will be given when possible.