Planned change to Dickens on the Squares not enough to fight COVID-19, it’s all cancelled for this year
The Galveston Historical Foundation announced late Wednesday night it is canceling its annual Victorian holiday festival Dickens on The Strand, just two weeks before the event was scheduled to occur.
The announcement comes in a week of major setbacks for festivals and events in Galveston as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise statewide.
The foundation board met late Wednesday afternoon and voted not to move forward with the festival, citing rising COVID-19 cases locally, regionally and statewide, Chief Creative Officer Will Wright said.
The popular holiday festival, which would have occurred Dec. 4 and Dec. 5, is one of the longest-running in Galveston. This year would have been the 46th year. The event highlights Charles Dickens’ holiday classic “A ChristmasCarol.”
The event is also the largest Fundraiser for the historical foundation and typically boosts holiday shopping for downtown businesses.
“Each December, Dickens celebrates our Victorian heritage on the island and salutes one of the great Christmas stories of the English language,” foundation Executive Director Dwayne Jones said. “We promise to be back next year with a fresh perspective on our holiday tradition and a healthy event for all.”
The foundation plans to return with a festival Dec. 3 through Dec. 5, 2021.
The historical foundation already had made significant changes to ensure the event followed guidelines to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Instead of holding a Dickens on The Strand, the foundation was moving to a Dickens on The Squares format, in which attendees could visit five small festival sites at private lots around downtown. Entrance at the squares was to be time specific, and tickets were limited.
The event normally draws 35,000, but the historical foundation had only planned on about 8,000 people.
The announcement about Dickens on The Strand wasn’t the only late-night cancellation Wednesday night.
Race officials with the Ironman 70.3 Texas race in Galveston decided to shutdown the event days before it was scheduled. The race, which would have been Sunday, is one of the largest on the island.
Dickens is the second major festival to cancel since the pandemic. Organizers of motorcycle eventLone Star Rally canceled the November gathering this summer.
Also this week, the Knights of Momus — the oldest and largest Galveston Mardi Gras krewe — announced it would not participate in any 2021festivities. The city is expected to make a final call on the festival in weeks or days.
The historical foundation has also canceled all the special events — such as holiday meals and tours — associated with its event.
People have already purchased tickets for the event and for special events, Wright said. The foundation will reach out to ticket holders soon with refund information, Wright said.