Narberth Dickens Festival
Sunday, December 3, 2017 - Noon to 4pm
The Narberth Dickens Festival is a free family event held each December on the streets of downtown Narberth. It draws thousands to this little borough every year, and it has become the fastest-growing holiday festival in the Philadelphia area. In this Dickens-themed event, the town of Narberth is transformed into 1840's London, as Ebenezer Scrooge and all the characters from A Christmas Carol roam the streets for an afternoon.
There is entertainment and activities for all ages, including carriage rides, crafts, carolers, period vendors and food, dancers, musicians, ballet performances, puppet shows, magicians, ice sculptors, a free scavenger hunt for children, and much more.
The 2017 Narberth Dickens Festival features:
- Ebenezer Scrooge and all the characters from “A Christmas Carol”
- dozens of period-authentic costumed performers
- free scavenger hunt & free prizes for kids - 1pm to 3pm
- horse and carriage rides through the Narberth streets
- professional brass musicians
- The "Men of Harmony" Dickensian carolers
- Waldron Mercy "Treblemakers" Choir
- Horn's Punch & Judy Puppet Show (www.hornspunch.com)
- The Kingsessing Morris Men
- Ari Paul the Entertainer
- Phydeaux’s Flying Flea Circus & Wahoo Medicine Show
- a capella group, Vocal Motive
- free craft activities for kids
- professional ice sculpting display
- free showing of A Muppet Christmas Carol - at 11am at Reel Cinemas Narberth 2 (seating is limited to theater capacity)
- free "Nutcracker" dance performances from the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet
- hot toddies from local establishments
- outdoor dance and musical performances
- hot chocolate in souvenir mugs
- period-authentic vendors and street food
Here is the "Events of the Day" page from this year's festival newspaper, "The Fish Wrapper"
Here is the Map from the festival newspaper, "The Fish Wrapper"
See the entire 2016 "The Fish Wrapper" newspaper here
See the 2012 Dickens Festival in this YouTube video from photographer, Don Groff:
What does it look like? The theater, fun, and holiday cheer of recent Dickens Festivals has been captured by some wonderful local photographers, including Narberth native, Nicolai Fox, and photographer, and travel writer, Don Groff.
See Photo Gallery
See 2010 Slideshow and Video
Where is it?The festival is spread over a few blocks in downtown Narberth, PA (See map). There are things to see and do on N. Narberth Ave, "The Hill" on Narberth Ave, across from the movie theater, Haverford Ave, Essex Avenue, and Forrest Ave. The main festival tents are stationed on Forrest Ave near the corner of Forrest Ave & Haverford Ave, and on N. Narberth Avenue, across the street from the movie theater. The carriage station is on Essex.
What does it cost?Thanks to generous donations of sponsorship dollars and manpower from members of the Narberth Business Association, and other Borough organizations, entrance into the festival and most of the activities are free. Carriage rides cost a Narberth Shilling (our $5 coin), and there are a few souvenirs for sale as well.
Is anything different this year?We added a few new entertainers, and some twists here and there, but the biggest change will be the vehicle-free block of Haverford Avenue. (Traffic is detoured through the parking lot, like at our music festivals.) To make this happen, we've moved the carriage station over to Essex Avenue. These changes should open things up a little and make it easier to walk around.
What should we do first?
Start by getting your "passport" stamped at the Immigration station at the corner of Forrest & Haverford Avenues. While you're there, pick up a copy of The London Fish Wrapper, our festival newspaper. It lists the events of the day, with a map, and information about the scavenger hunt and everything else you need to know about the festival. It also has some funny stories based on real events that occurred in the 1840's. Once your passport is stamped, you'll want to buy a bag of Shillings for the family to spend on carriage rides, souvenirs, food, and other items throughout the festival.
The Narberth Shilling
The Narberth Shilling is a gold coin worth five American dollars on the day of the Narberth Dickens Festival. Many vendors and merchants throughout the town will accept this coin the same as cash today. You can exchange cash for shillings, and shillings for cash, all day at the currency exchange booths on Narberth Ave and Forrest Ave. All Festival booths and many shops and vendors around town accept shillings. In fact, shillings are the only way to pay for carriage rides at the Narberth Dickens Festival. Buy some shillings when you get to the festival, and give a few to the kids. They will love having their own "festival money" to spend. And remember, they can also earn a shilling for completing the scavenger hunt!
Public transportationThe train is a great way to get to Narberth, and the station is right in the middle of the festival. Why worry about parking when Narberth is just three stops from 30th street station on the Paoli/Thorndale (R-5) regional rail line? If you are coming from Philly, or from other spots on the Main Line, check the Sunday Septa schedule here. The trains stop in Narberth once an hour all day Sunday.
ParkingThere is parking on streets near the festival, and the meters are free on Sunday. There is some parking South side of Narberth (across the Narberth Ave bridge) on the streets and in the Septa commuter lot, which is also free on Sundays. You can walk back to town through the train station underpass.
These lots are also available:
Narberth Borough Hall (100 Conway Ave)
Keating Building Lot, across from the Narberth Movie Theater
Windsor Ave and Forrest Ave - two lots available from Windsor Ave side
Citizens Bank on Haverford Ave
Elmwood Ave Septa lot on the other side of the train station
St Margaret's School, on N. Narberth Ave
Narberth Presbyterian Church, on Windsor Ave
The Scavenger Hunt: 1pm - 3pm
Children of all ages are invited to start the free scavenger hunt, between 1pm and 3pm at the scavenger hunt festival tent on Narberth Avenue. You don’t have to be finished by 3pm, but you cannot start the hunt after 3pm. At the tent, we’ll give you a tin “beggars’ cup”. Your mission is to collect seven wooden nickels in your cup by performing festival tasks and finding Dickens characters roaming through the town. Bring back 7 wooden nickels in your tin cup to receive your prize.
Successful hunters earn a Narberth Shilling (see above), which is enough to get them their choice of a top hat, festival pin, carriage ride, hot chocolate, or any of the many other festival goodies. Or kids can spend the shilling at vendors and stores throughout the festival. The festival is worth $5 all afternoon, so kids choose their prize!
These Scavenger Hunt tasks can earn you a nickel:
Finding Dickens characters;
Doing a craft at Great Expectations Together, The Handwork Studio, Sweet Mabel Studio, or Swan Dancewear;
Stick your face in the ice sculpture on Narberth Ave (carving happens at 12:30);
Singing Jingle Bells at Fuzion;
Making a "choice" at Village Treats;
Dancing with Mr. Fezziwig;
Finding the Owl and the Goat in Nannygoat Alley;
Buying something worth a shilling or more ($5+) from Ricklin's, and bringing the receipt to the Immigration Station; and
Donating a toy at the Toys for Tots table.
A Muppet Christmas Carol - Free Movie at the Narberth Movie Theater
Before the scavenger hunt starts, get into the spirit of the Dickens Festival with a free showing of A Muppet Christmas Carol at Narberth Stadium 2, the movie theater, on N. Narberth Ave. The 11am start time is perfect for kids who want to learn the the Dickens story before hitting the streets and searching for the characters. This Rated G movie is loved by adults and kids of all ages, and runs 89 minutes. Don't be late, because the theater will fill up fast, and seating is limited to theater capacity of 220 persons.
The Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, "on the hill" of N. Narberth Avenue Ave, will host three performances during the Festival. They start at 12:30, 2:00 and 3:30. The studio also features some storytelling by kid-favorite storyteller, Rochelle Longwill from Livin' Large Literature. This year's story is "How I Became a Pirate", at 1:15 and 2:45.
This is a rain, snow, or shine event. It's a holiday festival in Pennsylvania, so a little winter weather goes with the territory! In the event of precipitation, vendors are permitted to use tents.
How do I get involved?
If you are interested in getting involved, as a performer, vendor or volunteer, e-mail the Narberth Business Association at firstname.lastname@example.org. The vendor application is here.
If I'm already involved, what do I need to know?Make sure you have your costume ready, and that you have any tables, tents, or props you need. If you need a costume, we can rent one for you inexpensively.
©2017 Narberth Business Association | Photography courtesy of Don Groff, rights reserved ©2017 Donald D Groff