uac111611001.jpg If the idea of joining the maddening crowds at the mall and super stores on Black Friday does not appeal to you, why don’t you take a step back to a kinder, gentler time and join the peaceful crowd downtown for the celebration of A Dickens Holiday.

A Dickens Holiday, a Fayetteville tradition started by the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, has evolved over the years to a partnership between the Arts Council and the Downtown Alliance. Each year, the two organizations pull out all of the stops to create a fun, family atmosphere that reminds visitors of a simpler time when celebrating Christmas meant family and neighbors. It was a time of tradition — not a time of commercialism.

On Friday, Nov. 25, from 1-9 p.m. Fayetteville’s downtown will turn back the clock and the city’s Victorian history will come to life (and there will be a touch of commercialism for those of you who still have some Christmas shopping to do!).

Mary Kinney, of the Arts Council noted, “We are planning to have some of the things people look forward to year after year — the traditional parts of the event. There will be characters from A Chistmas Carol roaming the streets, and you can still get your photo made with Father Christmas at the Arts Council, but there will be some new events and things going on to entertain visitors.”

There is a whole host of events going on throughout the day including:

• Hot cider and gingerbread will help keep you warm throughout the day. Buy some on every block of Hay Street. 50¢ each.

• Preserve a lifetime memory with a picture of you and your loved ones with Father Christmas and an authentic Victorian sleigh at the Arts Council building. $6 per print (or $15 for 3 prints).

• Amazing holiday entertainment all day at the Arts Council building along Hay Street.

• See what students have created in a Scholastic Gingerbread Competition. Cheer on your favorite high school team in the H&H Homes Scholastic Gingerbread Competition, starting at 1 p.m. at the Rainbow Room. Cookie decorating workshop for kids 12 and under for $1 per cookie from 1-5 p.m. Come back after the fireworks to se11-16-11-dickens-1.jpge which school won the $500 first-place prize and to vote for the People’s Choice Award until 9 p.m.

• Victorian Carriage Rides, 1-9 p.m. Enjoy the sights and sounds of a Dickens downtown on a big decorated horse-drawn hitch wagon. Only $10 for adults, $5 for children. Tickets on sale at 222 Hay St. beginning at noon on the day of the event. Come early — they sell out fast!

• Queen Victoria Carriage Rides, 1-9 p.m. Enjoy a longer, more personal tour of historic downtown Fayetteville in this intimate setting. Tours leave from the Fayetteville Area Transportation Museum, at Franklin and Maxwell streets. $15 per person. Advance ticket purchase recommended by calling 678-8899.

This Victorian Life display on the second floor of the Market House from 1-9 p.m., sponsored by the Transportation & Local History Museum. See how the Victorians celebrated the holidays. Don’t miss the display of coins, ceramic plates and other commemorative pieces created to honor her, during Queen Victoria’s reign.

• Candlelight Procession and Tree Lighting Ceremony. Gather in front of the Arts Council building for the 5:30 p.m. candlelight procession to the Market House. Pick up a free candle at selected merchants, or in front of the Arts Council building (while supplies last). Join thousands of townspeople for Fayetteville’s largest candlelight procession to the Market House, followed by fireworks!

• Victorian Costume Contest. Put together a Victorian outfi t from the simple suggestions offered at www.theartscouncil.com, and participate in the contest, which starts at 7 p.m. Contestants model authentic Victorian costumes from the Dickens era. Call 678-8899 for more details and to register.

11-16-11-dickens-2.jpgIn addition to the many activities, visitors will also have the opportunity to participate in some retail therapy. “You will have the opportunity to shop,” said Kinney. “There are many fine merchants in downtown Fayetteville, but we also add arts and crafts vendors all along Hay Street on this special day. They will sell handcrafted items, which are perfect for Christmas gifts.”

There are a number of holiday performances including magicians, bands and carolers.

“It’s a good mix of performances at the Arts Council, and also roaming the streets,” said Kinney. “A lot of people are really looking forward to Phoebe Hall, who is going to be dressed as Mother Goose and will do story telling.”

For more information on A Dickens Holiday or to get hints on how to dress in Victorian style, visit www.theartscouncil.com.

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