Various venues, Northern Ireland Until Dec dickens2012ni.com
It’s appropriate that this festival celebrating the great man’s bicentary all over Northern Ireland should be partnered with the charity Barnardo’s, given both Charles Dickens (photographed in 1860) and Dr Thomas Barnardo were 19th-century philantropists dedicated to exposing and fighting the poverty and exploitation of children.
Dickens also had a special relationship with Belfast and Northern Ireland, visiting often and reading from the stage in the Ulster Hall, one of the venues which will be hosting events during the festival. It will continue through the year and will draw on established local talent as well as entertainers and performers from Ireland, the UK and beyond.
The organisers say they plan to emphasise the “spirit of fun that was uniquely dear to Dickens’s heart”. It should get the punters. Dickens is still hugely popular: the books are still read and the screen adaptations are as frequent as ever.
More than 70 events, 35 venues and upwards of 20,000 people are involved, and the fun includes a David Copperfieldread-a-thon, a library reading tour across the North, three exhibitions on Dickens and Ireland, five touring theatre productions, musical evenings, films, education workshops and much more.