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Dickens Summer Weekend

10th June - 11th June 2023

Dickens Summer Weekend is part of the exciting new Medway River Lit, Literature Festival.

Rochester Castle Gardens - Saturday, 10 & Sunday, 11 June at 11am-5pm

We are excited to bring the Dickens Summer Weekend to you this Summer in collaboration with the Medway River Lit festival! We have a number of exciting events taking place across the whole weekend so that the event matches your great expectations. Including parades, live performances and Dickensian themed activities and stalls.

Costumed characters at Summer Dickens Weekend

Parade and Performances

Both days will feature a parade led by musical entertainment and costumed characters, starting at Star Hill (end of Rochester High Street) and ending at the Castle gardens, where there will be an abundance of further performances, activities and stalls to enjoy!

The parade will last from approximately 12.00pm-12.30pm and will be directly followed by two interactive performances by the Pretending People theatre company, who have collaborated with the Pickwick club and Dickens society to develop an interactive, accessible and entertaining performance that will bring the words of Dickens to life before your very eyes.

The first performance will be based on The Pickwick Papers ‘cricket match’ and will be a 20-minute re-enactment of the famous match described in Dickens’ first novel. However, we hope you bring your A-game to the festival, because this thrilling performance couldn’t happen without a crucial member of the cast… YOU! Pretending People have designed this live show to also include members of the public, making the experience as immersive as possible, so make sure you remember you bring your white trousers and knitted jumpers, and maybe you can become a key part of a Dickens classic.

We hope after that performance you’ll be left like Oliver Twist… wanting more. Don’t worry though, because after a short break the cast will return for another performance, this time based on the ‘pub’ scene from The Pickwick Papers. Like the performance that proceeds it, this show will be enthralling but also interactive, meaning you have another chance to help bring Dickens’ work to life in front of a wonderful crowd.

Other Activities

  • Multiple Victorian children’s fun fair rides.
  • Victorian Tea Tent – with costumed staff.
  • Selection of craft stalls from the Rochester Society network.
  • Picnic blankets, deck chairs and traditional outdoor games set up around the gardens.

These activities will be available in the castle gardens throughout the day, so please come down with friends and family for an entire day packed full of Dickensian fun!


Dickens Themed Scheduled Activities:

We mentioned earlier that this weekend is in collaboration with the Medway River Lit Festival, and since it will be the finale weekend, there are lots of other Dickensian events for you to attend in a number of locations across Medway. Including talks with guest speakers, live music, interactive games and of course the annual Dickens Summer Evensong at Rochester Cathedral. There really is something for everyone at this wonderful celebration of literature… 

Dickens Summer Weekend - Highlights

  • Friday, 9 June - Mystery of Edwin Drood Walking Tour

    The City of Rochester Society will be conducting a Mystery of Edwin Drood walking tour around Rochester on Friday 9th June, to coincide with the 153rd anniversary of Charles Dickens' death. Come and find out the links to Rochester in Dicken’s final, unfinished novel. The tour starts at 10am from the Visitor Information Centre and finishes in the castle grounds by 11:45 am. The tour is free but donations are welcome to the Save The Charles Dickens Chalet Fund.

  • Friday, 9 June - Dickens Summer Ball

    A Victorian costumed event in the magnificent Corn Exchange, inspired by Pickwick Papers.

    Join us in a Dickensian frolic in the Kent Countryside, this year inspired by The Pickwick Papers.

    Bring your own Pickwick picnic hamper and come dressed as Dickensian milkmaids, ostlers, hoppers, farmers, landed gentry or exotic Victorian steampunks.

    There will be dancing to live band Legacy, a raffle in aid of The Friends of Eastgate House, and a pay bar (so please do not bring drinks in your hamper).

    Ball takes place at Rochester Corn Exchange, starting at 8pm.  Tickets available online.

  • Day 9: Saturday 10 June

    The following events will be taking place at Medway Adult Education Centre and Community Hub, Eastgate, Rochester ME1 1EW. Events are free, no booking required.

    The following event will be taking place at Eastgate House, Rochester ME1 1EW.  Included with standard entry to the house.

    The following event will be taking place at the Royal Engineers Museum, Prince Arthur Road, Gillingham ME7 1UR. Admission free, booking via Eventbrite.

  • Day 10: Sunday 11 June

    Welcome to the final day of the main Festival! We are continuing in our celebration of things Dickensian and our Finale Event is a very special reunion! 

    • PARADE at 12pm - starting at Star Hill (end of Rochester High Street) and ending at the Castle gardens.

    The following events will be taking place at the Guildhall Museum, High Street, Rochester ME1 1PY.  Admission free, no booking required.

    The following event will be taking place at Eastgate House & Garden, Rochester ME1 1EW.

    • Storytelling from 1pm onwards (see blackboard for times on the day). Weather Dependent.

    The following events will be taking place at Chatham Library and Community Hub, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TX. Admission free, book with Medway Libraries.

Getting to Rochester

  • By Bus

    There are many bus stops in and around Rochester, and Rochester is well served by bus routes.

    Full timetable details are available at or


  • By Train

    Rochester rail station is within easy walking distance of the town centre and well served by trains operating from London and the coast.  

    For train times and prices visit the Southeastern website. 


  • Blue Badge Parking

    Blue Badge spaces are available in all public pay and display car parks. Please note, for car parks operating ANPR camera systems, blue badge holders will need to register their vehicle in advance to qualify for free parking and must continue to display your badge when parked.

    For the Dickens Summer Weekend only, additional on street blue badge parking spaces are provided on the Esplanade (beneath the castle wall). These spaces are available on a first come, first serve basis. Please display badge when parked in these bays.

    For further details on blue badge parking in Medway, please visit Medway Council's website.


  • Car Parking

    Pay & Display car parks can be found in Rochester, Strood and Chatham town centres. 

    For more information on car parking, please visit Medway Council's website.


  • Coach and Minibus Parking

    Normal coach and minibus parking will apply for this event.  Passenger drop off and collection from the rear of Medway Visitor Information Centre with free parking at Curtis Way Coach Park.  

    Please adhere to parking restrictions that apply in this area.

    For directions and postcodes, please download coach map below.


For more information on other events and activities taking place at the Medway River Lit, Literature Festival - click here

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Tickets and Pricing


Days and times

  • Saturday, 10 & Sunday 11 June
    11am - 5pm



Rochester Castle Gardens, Castle Hill, Rochester ME1 1SW

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