Thursday, December 26, 2013

Charles Dickens Festival (Dickens Festijn) in Deventer Part 1: The 3 hours wait

With the Christmas season at hand, I have thought long and hard on which travel entry to post for today, which is the second day of Christmas. In the Netherlands and in other northern European countries, we celebrate two days of Christmases, the 25th and 26th of December.

I finally came to the conclusion of posting a local travel I have recently embarked that perfectly embodies the spirit of all things Christmas: The Charles Dickens Festival that I attended a week and a half ago in Deventer, the Netherlands.

Charles Dickens Festival in Deventer
Website: Dickens Festijn Deventer (Netherlands)
Dates: Every year | the 2nd weekend, Saturday and Sunday of December (14-15 December 2013)

I am sure many of you know about this great English writer, novelist and social critic during the Victorian Period, Charles John Huffam Dickens, but for those who are not familiar of this great man, he is the author of renowned books and maker of unforgettable fictional characters such as, i.e. Oliver Twist, Artful Dodger and Fagin of the ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist’ and Ebenezer Scrooge of ‘A Christmas Carol’ to name a few.


Thus, when Blondine brought up the idea of going to the Dickens Festijn I right away signed up for it. However, due to very personal reasons, Blondine could not make it to the event, so I went instead with Bru to Deventer last 14 December.

As a kid during Christmastime I have always watched Charles Dickens films on TV, including the Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, so this visit really brought back many cobwebbed memories of the past.

The festival is a very popular event attracting many local tourists all over the country, as well as from neighbouring Germany (Deventer is located in the east, half an hour from the German border). 140,000 visitors in two days!

If you want to visit this festival next year, here’s a few things to take away (my TIPS thus):

(1) During the 2-day event, the centrum of Deventer is divided into 2 parts: (a) Open centrum which is open to all the public and where the market stalls are located (b) Dickens Festijn Route which is free for everyone to enter through a guarded entrance gate. In order to visit this, you must queue up.

(2) The Dickens Festijn Route is open at 11:00, however, be there early because the waiting time is between 1-2 hours and could be more, like in our case—3 hours! Because the route is narrow and the area where the route follows through (the Bergkwartier – ah, such a very pretty piece of Deventer!) is small, they are only allowing a few hundred people every 15 minutes or so, which essentially helps alleviates and manages the flow of people traffic.


Bru and I managed to drink 2 cups each of warm gluhwein (mulled wine) while queuing up. Glad they had these stalls along the line because it was a cold day.


(3) I strongly suggest to come with the train than with a car because the centrum is closed to traffic. It will surely be a nightmare to find parking nearby unless you come very early or the night before. The city diverts all motorised vehicles to parking areas outside the centre with regular buses in place for connection. I came with the train, and luckily I live in Utrecht—the central point of the country and the NS (Dutch Railway) headquarters, so I have a direct train from Utrecht to Deventer (50 minutes).

(4) Keep warm because 1-2 hours or more standing in line outdoors in can-be freezing or snowy temperatures is not easy. And wear flat shoes! I did, but Bru came with high-heeled boots, luckily she was able to manage.

(5) Familiarise yourself with a few of Charles Dickens famous characters at this site: List of Dickensian Characters.When we got there though, I was overwhelmed. It was a real challenge ID’ing all of them! Can you help?


Do you have any idea who these characters are? And which book?


These boys I am sure are from 'The Adventures of Oliver Twist' novel... and they could not be Oliver Twist as they are too old.

(6) Be patient with queuing up =). The city has staged a few stalls selling drinks and snacks along the queuing line so you can order your gluhwein, coffee, tea or chocomelk. Halfway through the queue you can as well visit the toilet by getting a pass from one of the festival staff guarding the queue.

(7) Lastly, bring your camera! No explanation needed.

These pictures in this blog entry are just the first part, taken while we were queuing up for 3 hours to enter the Charles Dickens Route. Next would be the pictures during our actual stroll on the Dickens Festijn Route.

Enjoy the pictures and perhaps you can help ID these lovely characters for me? Thanks =)


These girls were rhyme singing while marching, er I mean brooming, away.


Ah, we still have a loooong wait to go. Here, we have been standing on the line for more than an hour already.


A group of orphaned children begging for alms. Obviously from the 'Adventures of Oliver Twist' novel. You know, the characters here in Deventer are really ACTING their characters out. Geweldig.


This one is funny, and yes, they were also acting. Their agenda is to deliver these luggage to the house along the queue, and they have to haul over all the luggage to the other side of the street, which means they have to weave through the crowd or we help them, and that is what we did... only to find out that nobody is at home, so we have to haul back again the luggage to the street, haha. What is so amazing are the characters seriously protraying their role or a scene from the book =)


And here is Bru helping out with the luggage as well, hehe. Good job Bru!


It was during the Victorian Period that women fought for their rights to suffrage.


These were the first bikes invented, and the wheels of these are made of wood. As to how they climb on it and get off, I have no idea.


Bru here is having her second cup of gluhwein. You need it if you are standing for more than 2 hours in cold temperatures. The next picture is someone with a camera stick that goes up to 3 stories! Pretty cool huh =)


AH, FINALLY WE ARE LET IN!!! Hallelujah!

Stay tuned for more pictures of Charles Dickens as we follow the Festival Route. See you in my next Charles Dickens post.

See here the Part 2: Charles Dickens Festival in Deventer Part 2: Walking the Dickens Route

Travel Period: December 2013
Destination: Deventer (Gelderland), the Netherlands

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

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