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Wednesday, 01 April 2015

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Ulverston Dickensian festival

ULVERSTON was once again transported to a bygone age inhabited by characters from the era of Charles Dickens.

The 14th Dickensian Christmas Festival, sponsored by the North-West Evening Mail, proved as popular as ever on Saturday and Sunday as visitors filled the cobbled streets and alleys practically to capacity.

The market town was brimming with life as families enjoyed a host of free entertainment and fairground rides, sampled artisan foods and relaxed in the pubs and cafes on a bumper day for Ulverston.

Saturday’s celebrations reached a climax around 4pm when mayor, Councillor Brenda Marr, and Stephane Demilly, mayor of Albert, Ulverston’s twin town, switched on the lights.

They were joined by entertainer Garry Gifford, whose “Christmas Caper” slots on the Market Place stage were among the highlights of the day, along with Betty Brawn, the “strongest lady alive”.

The annual costume parade featured tens of characters dressed in full 1850s-style regalia, and when they arrived at the Theatre Street Stage for judging, a dog scooped the award for best-dressed gent.

Volunteer Jean Povey, of Ulverston, had a tiring day serving the festival’s trademark mulled wine from a busy stall at the top of the cobbles.

She said: “In two-and-a-half hours there has not been a single moment when there has not been a queue.

“I’m absolutely exhausted, but it’s been a lovely day. I’m just astounded at how much goodwill there is.

“We’ve been selling mulled wine for £1.50, but so many people have been paying £2 because they know it’s going towards keeping the festival going in the future.”

A multitude of stalls selling snacks, crafts and gift ideas lined each street and, if the queues were anything to go by, the traders enjoyed a prosperous afternoon.

On his fourth visit to Dickensian as a trader, David Harry Webb, of Jesmond Avenue, Barrow, was selling handmade driftwood lamp bases, clocks and cards bearing paintings by his brother, John Ron Webb.

Mr Webb, who was decked out in full costume at his stall in King Street, said: “My brother did seven paintings of the trains that ran in the area and we’ve made them into limited edition prints and postcards which have been selling really well. There’s seems to be a real resurgence in interest in the Furness Railway. It’s been busy and I’m really quite pleased.”

Aside from the thousands of locals, intrigued visitors from around the country came to experience the buzz of Ulverston’s Victorian extravaganza.

Phil Pickup, of Haslingden, Lancashire, was making his first visit to Dickensian.

He said: “I’ve been to the Lantern Festival several times when my children were smaller, but this is something different again. It’s a very good turnout and everybody is happy and looking they are enjoying themselves. They were certainly enjoying the mulled wine!”

Karen Beardsley, of Manchester, made the trip with her two young children. She said: “The kids have loved the fairground and the entertainment and I’ve just loved the atmosphere, exploring all the little nooks and crannies and looking for Christmas presents in some of the lovely little shops.”

Have your say

It should be called Gary Gifford
Festival,that man is splendid. My grandkids are captured and so am I.

Posted by Jack Kelly on 21 November 2013 at 10:11

So cumbria shares the same problem as Dickensian, Doug. Both are manufactured, false and entirely devoid of any basis in truth! The sole event/attraction which had any authenticity was the reading of the Lancashire Day Proclamation on saturday, the rest was just vacuous fancy. The publicity for the Dickensian is "See the Ulverston Dickens knew"!? The closest he ever came to here was Lancaster. Walking into New Market Street all I saw was "made in cumbria". RUBBISH, I just have this very strong aversion to people touting their wares as somehow historically proven or "traditional cumbrian". Not so, if you're going to scream heritage/history at us to make your pile then have the decencyu to use real history please.

Posted by johnno ulverston on 3 December 2012 at 10:17

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