Dickens on Centre brings Victorian Christmas to Fernandina Beach


For the eighth year in a row, Fernandina Beach’s historic downtown will go back in time and have the look and feel of Victorian London.

The transformation is all part of the 8th Annual Dickens on Centre holiday celebration which this year is scheduled for Dec. 8 to 11.

“Every year we make changes and look into how it can be improved upon even more,” said Mariela Murphy, director of special events with the Amelia Island Convention & Visitors Bureau.

One of those changes is the expansion of the festival itself, which has spread its footprint in conjunction with its continued growth in popularity among those in the community and those visiting from surrounding areas.

According to Murphy, the celebration used to be primarily Centre Street and Second Street, however, it will now spread all the way up to Fourth Street.

One of the additions during the expansion that took place last year that will be back this year is the Enchanted Village, which will include eight “igloos” that are decorated to fit the Christmas theme that people can book for an hour at a time.

The igloos were such a hit that two more have been added to the six that were available last year.

There will even be a snow machine that will be adding to create the vibe of a true winter wonderland atmosphere, even in Florida.

Part of the growth also includes and noticed increase in the number of people that are visiting from out of state to go to Dickens on Centre, especially from the Atlanta area.

“We want it to be a great festival that offers people the opportunity to have fun and be festive during the season,” Murphy said.

There will also be a children’s area where St. Nick will be present to interact with all the boys and girls.

The Lesesne House, one of the oldest houses in Fernandina Beach, will be part of the festivities this year, as the house, which was built in the 1800s will be used for “Dickens After Dark,” a VIP party for attendees 21 and older that will include food and drinks and a tour of the house.

Guests at the event are asked to “dress to impress” to fit the Victorian theme.

Last year was the first of the events held after the COVID-19 pandemic and the result was record numbers with roughly 18,000 people estimated to have attended the festival over the three-day span. Similar numbers are expected this year.

“A lot of growth has occurred with our vendor list as well, going from 60 to 65 to about 85 this year,” Murphy said. “And we’re stilling getting calls about it.”

For the third year, an illuminated procession will kick off the festival at 7 p.m. Dec. 8.

People should gather near the welcome center in downtown Fernandina Beach. They can bring their own handmade lanterns or use the lanterns provided by the event.

“There’s always a lot of caroling and kids at the procession,” Murphy said. “It’s a great way to get things started.”

About 1,200 people took part in last year’s illuminated procession.

Another fun tradition associated with the festival is the “Run Like the Dickens” 1-mile fun run along Amelia Island’s main beach.


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