DISTANCE: 270 MILES, FOUR AND A HALF HOUR DRIVE
When most people think of a trip on I-24 north through Tennessee, they think of bright lights, big city and live music. But this holiday season, consider stopping just south of the Country Music Capital, while also taking a huge step back in time.
December 14-15 heralds the 35th Annual Dickens of a Christmas festival in downtown Franklin, Tennessee. Using the historic downtown’s Victorian architecture as a backdrop, the Heritage Foundation of Williamson County transforms the town square and side streets into a scene straight out of a Charles Dickens’ novel.
The perfect setting for a Victorian Christmas, most of Main Street’s buildings were constructed between 1890 and the early 1900s and are beautifully restored. The entire 15-block area is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the town is the recipient of a Great American Main Street Award by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as the Preserve America Award. The commercial historic district is surrounded by 4 residential districts that also are on the National Register.
Some 200 musicians, dancers and characters fill the streets, producing Middle Tennessee’s largest outdoor Christmas celebration. Expect to see and interact with the nefarious Fagin of Oliver Twist fame; Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim from A Christmas Carol; and a Victorian Father and Mother Christmas with treats for children.
Artisans of vintage crafts like woodcarving, bookbinding, broom making, apple-head dollmaking and yarn spinning will demonstrate their handiwork throughout the event among 150 craft booths, along with street vendors selling olde English fare and other tasty treats. Ever wonder what plum pudding and sugarplums actually taste like? Now’s your chance!
Entertainment includes a variety of musical performances, both on stage and on the street, and YOU—everyone is invited to join the Town Sing starting at the Public Square. Purchase a candle, grab a song sheet and join the crowd!
A quick 20-minute drive from Nashville, over 50,000 people attend this free (although some attractions involve a small fee) family-friendly holiday festival. The clatter of hooves, the scent of roasting chestnuts and the sight of English Bobbies (actually Franklin Police Officers on duty in costume!) make it easy to imagine that you’ve somehow hopped into a Delorean and arrived in a 19th century English village.