Amelia Island, Florida is one of the most wonderful places to spend the holiday season, especially during the annual Dickens on Centre festivities. Held annually over a weekend in December, the downtown area of Fernandina Beach is transformed into a Victorian-era village, inspired by the classic Charles Dickens tale A Christmas Carol.
It’s is the island’s biggest holiday celebration, featuring costumed performers singing carols. Booths line the streets, selling crafts and food. Kids can write letters to Santa, see the illuminated tree, catch a holiday movie, or bring their furry friend to the Pet Parade.
The festival also has a one-mile beach fun run, Portraits with Saint Nick, live music, and the Dickens Enchanted Village, a igloo picnic experience. Read our expert advice to have the perfect experience, leaving behind any Bah Humbug attitude!
Tips for Attending Dickens on Centre in Amelia Island
Dress the part.
Costumed performers will be found roaming the streets, including carolers dressed in Victorian attire and Santa. But attendees also get into the holiday spirit. In fact, the festival has its own page about accessories and attire to dress the part. For gentlemen, that might include top hats and long-tailed jackets. For ladies, bonnets and dresses are a fun look.
The Illuminated Procession is the best time to get dressed up, when attendees stroll the streets with lanterns. Dickens After Dark is another fun event for those 21 and over, which includes beer and wine, appetizers, entertainment, and a ghost tour.
Shop for local gifts.
During Dickens on Centre, many of the shops stay open later and vendors set up in tents along the main street. It’s the perfect opportunity to do your holiday shopping, especially while supporting local businesses. You might find jewelry, home decor, clothing, and more. The Book Loft and Trailer Park Collectibles are a few of our favorites.
Make dinner reservations.
Dickens Dining Week is a part of Dickens on Centre and encourages attendees to enjoy the local restaurants that are participating. But these restaurants are far from the only places to dine while in Amelia Island. It’s a good idea to make a reservation, especially after popular events like the Illuminated Procession.
Book your accommodations early.
Amelia Island doesn’t have as many hotel options as other Southern destinations, especially if you want to be in the heart of it all in Fernandina Beach. But the ones that are there book up early, so plan ahead! Amelia Schoolhouse Inn is a former school that has its own bar.
Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island is also in the heart of Fernandina Beach with an onsite fitness center, business center, free breakfast, free WiFi, and free parking.
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island is a AAA Five Diamond hotel set on 13 miles of coastline with an award-winning restaurant, a spa, an 18-hole golf course, and direct beach access. Seaside Amelia Inn – Amelia Island is a 46-room boutique hotel right on the ocean with daily breakfast, WiFi, and parking.
The 400-room Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort was built in the 1970s and has residences and vacation accommodations a short drive from Fernandina. It has 10 restaurants and is decked out with gingerbread houses during the holiday season.
Rentals like the Amelia Island Plantation condo are another option if you want more room and the amenities of home.