The Riverside Dickens Festival will kick off tonight (Feb. 6) with a ball and then a whole host of Dickens related activities all weekend long - rain or shine!
This 16th year of festivities will include activities for the entire family - even the itty bitty members with plays, street performers, food vendors, music and more. This year's theme is "A Nickel's Worth of Nickleby."
Area youth have been involved in the celebration since its inception and this year is no different. Visitors can enjoy the one-act play "A Christmas Carol" performed by Citrus Hills Intermediate School in Corona on Saturday and "Nicholas Nickleby" performed by Martin Luther King High School in Riverside Sunday.
The Citrus Hills production is performed in a unique way, broken down into individual scenes with students rotating parts, said Annmarie Weaver, Dickens Festival president. "There are 60 to 65 students involved in the play ... All the character parts are performed by several different students so everyone in the class is involved. They all get to play a part."
Riverside's King High won the Dickens Festival high school drama contest, so they were chosen to perform the festival's theme of Nickleby.
The youngest Dickens fans will find plenty of activities in Oliver's Alley, which has expanded since its introduction last year. In addition to its usual Victorian crafts and games, the Alley will host afternoon tea for children age 12 and under.
"Children will be taught Victorian manners and etiquette and then served cookies and cider," Weaver said. Costumes will be available so participants can dress for the occasion.
UC Riverside's California Museum of Photography will photograph children in costume, said Carolyn Grant, one of the festival's founders.
Visitors to the Riverside Metropolitan Museum over the weekend can also see antique printing presses on display from the International Print Museum in Carson.
Kids can make invitations or posters, Weaver said. "There is a lot to do each day and its very family oriented."
Riverside Dickens Festival
Where: Downtown Riverside
When: Feb. 6, 7 and 8
Information: 951-781-3168, www.dickensfest.com
Children's Tea Parties
Where: Oliver's Alley
When: 11 a.m., noon, 1, 2 and 3 p.m. Feb. 7 and 8
Cost: All Oliver's Alley activities are free