Dickensian Christmas Festival – Rochester, Kent December 2017

by Emma Bumpus on December 17, 2017

Rochester sparkles with history and festivity beneath Medway’s crisp blue skies bringing Christmas cheer and lashings of Dickensian joy to careertraveller and family.

Situated 30 miles from London we enter Dickens Country and cross the River Medway on Rochester Bridge, a striking architectural masterpiece of old and new engineering adorned with four handsome bronze lions.

Rochester High Street is a gala itinerary of sweet treats and ancient treasure amidst a parade of costumed street performers that celebrates Charles Dickens. The author’s childhood memories of the town unleash a trail of characters and buildings including Six Poor Travellers House and grade I listed Eastgate House. As we mingle amongst the likes of Fagin, Sykes and Miss Havisham we uncover a town of hidden gems brimming with pretty tearooms, restaurants and independent boutiques.

Sweet Expectations is a tardis of traditional and locally produced Kentish handmade chocolate and sweets, all 500 different varieties! Guilty pleasures appear at Mrs Tickit’s Pantry, a cosy oasis of old-fashioned afternoon tea with a hint of Mrs Tickit, cook and housekeeper of the Meagles family in Dickens novel ‘Little Dorrit’.

Sweetness brings literary nectar at Baggins Book Bazaar, a 2-storey labyrinth of books bursting with illustrative knowledge and trivia covering all genres. We get lost in what claims to be the largest second-hand bookshop in England amidst half a million books, bringing scholarly wanderlust for a meander to Rochester Cathedral, England’s second oldest cathedral!

Mesmerised by the mediaeval Romanesque façade with skyscraper spires we step back in time to 604AD when the cathedral was founded and absorb Advent and Christmas amongst revellers in the heart of the city. Caught in a rapturous procession of Dickensian fever we follow a trail of intoxicating Christmas Market pleasures including artisan chocolates, mulled wine and bratwurst in a Bavarian style food village.

Gifts galore set in the grounds of Rochester Castle we can not resist climbing the 12th century keep, which all 113 feet high on the east bank of the River Medway, brings English heritage alive with historical panorama.

The melodic sound of City of Rochester Pipe Band in the distance takes us back to the city’s magical cobbled streets for a glimpse of Santa’s reindeer. It is here we discover the Candlelit Parade, a heart warming cavalcade of ‘Christmas’ wrapped up in a bundle of history, tradition and community.

A mist of long lasting entertainment includes a free evening Carol Concert outside the cathedral, where families gather beneath the‘guaranteed’ snow to the tunes of Rochester Choral Society Choir and BAE Systems Brass Band. Stunning!

A Funfair nightcap brings an illuminated playground of pure vintage amusement amongst the tinsel lined stalls and attractions all twinkling with fun. An alpine glide on the Heltar Skeltar is a carnival of skyline sights amongst the winter wonderland Carousel, Giant Wheel and of course customary Haunted House.

Christmas comes early to Rochester!

Further information:

Visit Medway – The official tourism website for the district including Rochester, Chatham and and Gillingham
Rochester Castle
Rochester Cathedral
Christmas In Medway

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