Dickens Festival returns to self-proclaimed Christmas capital of North Dakota

Published: Nov. 26, 2022 at 9:35 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - A small town in North Dakota hosts a Christmas gem every weekend from now until Christmas weekend, bringing us back in time to the days of Charles Dickens.

Garrison, North Dakota is known for many summer activities like hunting, fishing, and camping, but when the holiday season comes around, the Dickens Festival attracts thousands to this small town.

“Well, I started in 1994 with the festival, it was introduced by two ladies that thought we should have a Dickens Festival in the middle of winter in North Dakota, who would have guessed that it would have succeeded so well,” said Dick Messerly, Queen Elizabus Tour Guide.

Every Friday and Saturday for three weeks in row there are activities and attractions for the whole family, from face painting and top hat making for children, to live music and a Christmas Carol play by Charles Dickens himself.

“We have a play, our Dickens play, is a version of The Christmas Carol, with Scrooge and Tiny Tim, and every year it’s a different version. We have people that come every year just for the play,” said Jean Witt, Dickens Festival Committee member.

The festival kicked off this Friday the 25th, and even though Black Friday draws crowds to larger cities, Garrison saw hundreds of families enjoying the Dickens Festival.

“It’s kinda my one thing that I really enjoy about the festival is that little old Garrison is competing with Black Friday and the big box stores and people could be shopping any place and enjoying the discounts and everything, but they choose to come to Garrison and enjoy the festival,” said Messerly.

The Dickens Festival is not only a great event for family fun, but also important to Garrison small businesses, and giving them the extra push they need to survive the slower winter months.

This year, the Dickens Festival celebrates 29 years, next year will be their 30th anniversary.