Dancing at Dickens

With a reflection on the past and a nod to the now, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County’s 35th Annual Dickens of a Christmas presented by First Citizens National Bank will return to downtown Franklin on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 14-15.

Recently named as the third “Most Magical Christmas Towns and Villages Across the World” by O, The Oprah Magazine, Franklin is an authentic backdrop to this Victorian-era theatrical street festival. 

Since 1984, the Heritage Foundation and its division the Downtown Franklin Association have been producing iconic street festivals in downtown Franklin initially as a means of economic vitality for the developing community and now as a way to preserve and share the area’s local cultural heritage. The Heritage Foundation is dedicated to preserving and sharing the special places and stories within the Williamson County community.   

“This year’s Dickens of a Christmas will surely remind locals and visitors of this festival from decades ago,” Heritage Foundation CEO Bari Beasley said. “Our team listened to our downtown merchants and attendees when they asked for us to create a festival where the beauty of downtown Franklin would be best showcased.

“With this in mind, most of our beloved vendors have been positioned on side streets this year, now called Peddler’s Row East and South. Main Street from Public Square to Fifth Avenue will be transformed into our Victorian Village, where our Dickens characters, vintage craft demonstrators, street musicians and others can roam freely amongst festival attendees. We’re extremely excited for this change and look forward to continuing this revived tradition for years to come.” 

The festival will feature several new additions as well as traditions from the past:

  • New Victorian Village
    • Charles Dickens’ characters 
    • Roaming carolers and street musicians 
    • Vintage and Victorian craft demonstrations 
    • Victorian-era holiday foods such as sugar plums 
    • Free photos with Father Christmas 
    • Vintage truck holiday photo area 
    • New downtown Franklin holiday window display contest
    • Family activities produced by the Heritage Foundation Classroom, such as ornament and holiday card-making and other vintage crafts
    • Snow photo area on the steps of the historic Williamson County courthouse  
    • Peddler’s Row East & South, featuring 100-plus arts and crafts vendors and community organizations
    • Food Court area, featuring fan-favorite food trucks and street food vendors 
    • Live entertainment on the GSRM Stage 
    • Town Sing at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday (Public Square) and 4:30 p.m. on Sunday (Historic Franklin Presbyterian Church) 
    • New theatrical experience at The Franklin Theatre, “A Christmas Carol with Jason Woods,” 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.
      • Actor Jason Woods transforms into over 25 characters as he describes every shadowy phantom, mouth-watering morsel of Christmas dinner and tear of joy from the beloved Charles Dickens tale. Tickets are on sale now at FranklinTheatre.com.  

The updated release of the Dickens of a Christmas mobile app will be available from the Apple App Store and Google Play store on Dec. 6. 

The Foundation relies on community partners and hundreds of volunteers to put on its free community-focused street festivals three times per year. Businesses interested in “Festival Friend” sponsorship opportunities or food trucks and food vendors who wish to participate in the Food Court area of the festival can reach out to Director of Corporate Relations Katie Rysiewicz at krysiewicz@williamsonheritage.org. Space is limited. Individuals and groups interested in volunteering can visit WilliamsonHeritage.org/Dickens to sign up. 

The 35thAnnual Dickens of a Christmas presented by First Citizens National Bank is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. The Heritage Foundation has extended Saturday’s times into the evening to encourage visitors to shop and eat in downtown Franklin and enjoy the beautiful holiday lights.

The festival is a rain or shine event. If there is dangerous inclement weather, the Foundation will communicate with vendors and attendees on delayed openings or closings. Visitors should download the updated mobile app on Dec. 6 for up-to-date information about weather, entertainment, frequently asked questions and more.  

Parking and shuttle services from Franklin Transit Authority will be available for $1 per person each way. Shuttle stop locations to be announced soon. 

Sponsors and key supporters include presenting sponsor First Citizens National Bank; partner-level sponsors Frost Brown Todd, The Heritage at Brentwood, Mars Petcare and Pilgrimage Music & Cultural Festival; host-city partner City of Franklin; stage sponsor GSRM Law; VIP member lounge sponsor Berry Farms; beverage partners Bavarian Bierhaus and Leiper’s Fork Distillery; media partners JACK FM, Mix 92.9, SuperTalk 99.7, WLAC Talk Radio 98.3, FOX 17, Franklin Home Page Media Group, Nashville Scene, Southern Exposure, Williamson Herald and YOUR Williamson; and festival friends Commercial Bank, Leaf Filter, National Dance Club, New Frontier, Novel Lockwood Glen, Peach Skin Sheets and Renewal by Anderson. 

To learn more about the 35thAnnual Dickens of a Christmas presented by First Citizens National Bank, visit WilliamsonHeritage.org/Dickens

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