After going virtual last year, the celebrated Riverside Dickens Festival will return to in-person events in February, transforming the downtown space into Victorian-era London, with an assortment of characters and shows reflective of author Charles Dickens’ life and times.

The 29th annual fest will be centered along the Main Street pedestrian mall, between Mission Inn Avenue and 11th Street, on Feb. 26 and 27.

“We will be live and in-person, showcasing all the best from our history and many new features for (visitors) to explore,” according the festival website.

The entire event was nearly nixed last February amid the coronavirus public health lockdowns, but organizers managed to throw together a virtual presentation featuring profiles of Dickens’ stories and other entertainment online.

The 2022 fest schedule is still being ironed out, but the informal opening will be “Pickwicks Pub Night,” which will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 26 in the Life Arts Building on the campus of UC Riverside, 3485 University Ave. Tickets are available now for the celebration. More information is available at

In previous years, pub night has included a dinner theater murder mystery, singing and lots of ale, as well as fish and chips.

Throughout past festivals, there are theatrical performances, pageants, music, speeches, historical recreations and children’s activities. Visitors often encounter actors representing Dickens, Queen Victoria, Bram Stoker, Mark Twain, H.G. Wells, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, Louisa May Alcott, Jules Verne, Emily Bronte, Mary Shelley and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle — to name a few.

The formal opening is slated for the morning of Feb. 26.

A “grand parade,” populated by Dickens’ characters and other Victorians, is typically staged along Main Street.

Merchants will sell food and wares reminiscent of a 19th century London bazaar during the fest weekend, interspersed with caroling and dancing, around the pedestrian mall.

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