We arrived Friday afternoon, so we had plenty of time to check into the Hotel Galvez, then drive around a bit before dressing for the Dickens Feast that evening. I snapped this picture while it was still light.
Later, as we slipped up the walkway to the Garten Verein it was already dark at 7pm. Brilliant lights danced in the windows and the sound of music welcomed us to the lavishly decorated dance pavilion, built in 1879-80. I couldn't wait to meet the great-great-grandson of Charles Dickens and catch a glimpse of the 'Royals' who were to arrive immediately before the feast began!
Some couples came in Victorian costume and were marvelously clothed from head to toe in ruffles, feathers and lace or smart vests, tails and top hats.
Historical snippet: This property was once owned by Civil-war financier, Robert Mills, who sold the land in 1876. It was adapted for use by the Galveston Garten-Verein social club, who made a clubhouse of the original residence, built a bowling alley and added landscaping and a pavilion for dancing.
For more information see Galveston Architecture Handbook by Ellen Beasley and Stephen Fox published by Rice University Press and Galveston Historical Foundation
The FEAST was sumptuous! The beautifully laid tables set with gold plates and amber goblets sat upon deep burgundy cloths embroidered with gold swirls. Lavish centerpieces accented with pine cones and boughs and tall brass candle holders topped with glass votives were gathered together with touches of gilded leaves and crimson flowers. Bottles of Merlot and Chardonnay waited to be sampled.
The feast began with Apple Fizz then progressed to the following courses: Creme of Asparagus Soup, Spring Salad with Romaine, Stilton Cheese and Bacon, topped wih a Vinaigrette Dressing, Roasted Prime Rib, Roasted Baby Red and Sweet Potatoes, Creamed Spinach, Baby Carrots with Orange Glaze, Hot Rolls with Butter and concluding with Plum Pudding Cake with Plum Sauce. We'll remember our meal for a long, long time!
Dickens on the Strand ran all weekend, but our tickets were for Saturday only. We had been warned of the lack of parking near the festival, but we actually found a lot where we could park for nothing. We had to shuffle up several blocks, but it was free!!
Strand Street holds many historically restored buildings housing gift and decor shops, bookstore, restaurants, clothing shops and other businesses. The entire length of the street was opened to pedestrians only with ticket booths strategically placed. Once inside the area, a Victorian village awaited!
Finely dressed Victorian gentlemen and ladies stolled the streets in couples or with babies in their prams and children at their side. Street musicians and carollers entertained at each street corner. Food booths lent an aromatic blend to the atmosphere by offering the sweet and the savory.