It’s a Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles

Characters in Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles – with Allena Arciszewski, Madison Ruffo and Daniel Wightman.
11/16/2018

25th Annual Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles Opens Nov. 23, “Bright Friday”

You’ll have a Dickens of a time at this fun-filled family favorite!

Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles returns for its 25th season Nov. 23 and runs weekends through Christmas, enchanting holiday shoppers as it brings “A Christmas Carol” to life.

The year is 1842, and Queen Victoria has arrived in town accompanied by Charles Dickens, whom she has commissioned to write a Christmas story. During their monthlong stay, Dickens gains inspiration from a bevy of now-familiar characters, including Scrooge, Tiny Tim, the Spirit of Christmas Past and the Ghost of Jacob Marley, along with finishing school girls, pickpockets and other villagers.

The story unfolds each week, as Dickens and his entourage interact with cast members and passersby.

“The real magic of our little Christmas party is the human connection we make when we look each other in the eye and wish each other well,” says producing director Jim Greene, who plays Dickens. “For the past 25 years, we’ve had the opportunity to revel in the greater gift of simply caring for one another.”

Dickens Christmas draws more than 20,000 visitors each year. It is produced by Scarlett Rat Entertainment and presented by The Krebs, the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Skaneateles-area business community.

The production opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs noon to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 23, with a limited show (noon to 2:30 p.m.) Dec. 24.

Highlights of this year’s season include:

World’s Smallest Christmas Parade. Nov. 23, starting at noon at the Skaneateles Village Hall on Fennell Street, proceeding east to Jordan and Genesee streets and arriving at the Hannum House porch in time for the 12:10 p.m. grand opening.

Midday Revels—Christmas carol sing-along—2 p.m. every day at the gazebo. Twelve groups form, representing the 12 days of Christmas. The groups vie for attention, and at the end, Queen Victoria awards a silver teasel to the most spirited performer. Winners have been known to wear their coveted silver teasels throughout the season.

Christmas Carol trunk shows, in which Dickens performs lighthearted versions of his new story with help from the audience, 12:30 p.m. at the gazebo and 3 p.m. at the library each day (except Nov. 24 and 25 and Dec. 15 and 16, when the second performance starts at 3:30 p.m. at the gazebo).

Horse-drawn wagon and carriage rides around the village, departing from the Sherwood Inn, provided by Rt. 80 Quarry Ridge Stables. Wagon rides are $2; carriage rides are offered for a $20 donation.

Magic shows, performed by the Very Peculiar Prestidigiating Packwoods, 1 and 3 p.m. Nov. 24 and 25 and Dec. 15 and 16 at the Skaneateles Library.

A snowman-building contest in Clift Park Dec. 22 (weather-permitting). Bring your own supplies and creativity! Queen Victoria will judge the entries at 2:45 p.m. First prize is a $50 gift certificate from The Krebs; second prize is a $25 gift certificate from the Sherwood Inn.

Free refreshments, including roasted chestnuts donated by Tops Friendly Markets and Johnny Angel’s, warm Christmas pudding at Mid-Lakes Navigation (a donation to the Food Pantry is requested), and Byrne Dairy eggnog served by the Girl Scouts (Saturdays only).

For children, Mother Goose will read holiday stories at Loft 42 and Father Christmas will hand out treats from the porch of the Masonic Temple.

“While you’re in town, be sure to visit our unique shops and restaurants—the perfect complement to a holiday outing,” says Hilary Fenner, executive director of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce.

“And stop by the Chamber, at 22 Jordan St., for commemorative scarves ($15 with an embroidered anniversary logo, $10 without) and ornaments ($5).”

In celebration of its 25th season, Dickens Christmas is teaming up with Auburn Public Theater (APT) to present “A Christmas Story—The Radio Play” at 7 p.m. Dec. 20. Tickets are $10 and are available through APT or the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Behind the Scenes

Dickens Christmas has more than 70 cast members, including young apprentice talent, who are joined by a variety of guest musicians and caroling groups. The show comes together in just six rehearsals.

“We pack a lot in and streamline the process of building a character,” says Greene. “Every actor learns music and uses improvisational techniques to build his character and become part of the ensemble.”

Greene is assisted by:
• Maria DeMitchell, of Marcellus, who is artistic director and plays Queen Victoria
• Kristen Baskewicz, of Rochester, who is music director and plays Mrs. Fezziwig
• John Michael Decker, of Queensbury, who is associate director and plays Scrooge
• Brett Norsworthy, of Wolcott, who is production manager and plays undertaker Barry M. Deep
• Tracey Greene, of Dryden, who is costumer
• Kristin Palazzoli, of Fayetteville, who is associate costumer

Dickens Christmas is made possible by the sponsorship support of nearly 150 local businesses. This year’s presenting sponsor is The Krebs.

The festival is further supported through ticket sales from a Dickens Raffle. Prizes are a $750 gift certificate from Mirbeau Inn & Spa, a family membership to the Skaneateles YMCA and Community Center, a $500 gift certificate from Sherwood Inn & Appetites, a $250 gift certificate from The Krebs, $200 Shop & Dine gift certificates, two SU Men’s Basketball tickets and a gift basket from Rhubarb.

Raffle tickets – $5 each, three for $10, 10 for $25 – are on sale at the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce and other village locations.

Paid parking is available in the municipal lot between Jordan and State streets; free parking is available in the lot adjacent to Ace Hardware/Skaneateles Town Square on Fennell Street and at the Austin Park Pavilion, at the corner of Jordan and Austin streets. A horse-drawn wagon will shuttle between both locations and the village. Tickets for the shuttle, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 3:40 p.m., are $2 per person each way, $10 per family (maximum of six people). Shuttle riders will receive a coupon for a free holiday ornament from the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce.

For more information on Dickens Christmas, go to www.skaneateles.com, call (315) 685-0552, or follow the event on Facebook (Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce or Dickens Christmas in Skaneateles). For an opportunity to win prizes and be featured on these pages, use the hashtag #skandickens2018 when posting Dickens photos.