Grubby Street Kids, Dandies, and Drunks – Dickens Festival Deventer

dickens festival deventer
Cute little street urchins, Deventer, The Netherlands.

There’s a few things I’m just a little bit indifferent to. Christmas and huge crowds of tourists being two of them. Today could have been my version of hell. Along with tens of thousands of other tourists (albeit predominantly Dutch tourists, they’re not so bad) I grabbed my camera and checked out the annual Deventer Dickens Festival. Fortunately, I have a strange liking for all things Victorian. Especially those cute but grubby street urchins. And, anything Christmas-Scrooge-esque.

The Deventer Dickens Festival, cutting to the chase here, is incredible. It was definitely a surreal mind-bending experience, entering the authentic old town center only to be surrounded by all manner of Dickensian characters. Reality is put on hold, as the actors – no matter what may happen – just don’t break character, ever.

Belligerent drunks. Begging street kids. Gruff policemen. Fancy ladies, and dandy gentleman. Hundreds of characters, filling the streets, just strolling along, riding penny-farthing bicycles, or serving delicious treats such as hot spicy mulled wine, pork buns, or cream-laden waffles. God damn those BBQ pork buns were incredible.


Deventer Dickens Festival 2012
Why you little smug son of a bi…… – The Dickens Festival in Deventer, The Netherlands.
Charles Dickens - Deventer style
It was about this moment, I was thinking…WTF is going on in this place. Deventer, The Netherlands.

Why Dickens? Why Deventer? As far as I can tell, the locals just decided in 1990, it would be pretty much a great thing to do to dress up in Victorian-era clothing once a year, and hang out in their town center in a celebration of all things Charles Dickens. The centuries old town center of Deventer makes the perfect backdrop, and the crowds lap it up. Over the last couple of decades, the festival has grown to over 300 stalls, 1000 Dickensian characters, and 150000 weekend visitors. A lot of people, in a small town.

The Deventer Dickens festival is always held the second last weekend before Christmas (bah humbug!). Charles Dickens of course has the ultimate Christmas connection – his novel “A Christmas Carol” is perhaps one of the greatest stories ever written (love the anti-consumer, pro-generosity message), and was always destined to permanently cement the connection between Dickens and Christmas, for centuries to come.

Of course, I had a little bit of fun processing these images, and presenting them in black and white, giving them a bit of an old-timey feel. Life’s too short not to have a bit of fun with your photos now and then, right?


This girl had it nailed. A look of frail determination. Deventer Dickens Festival, 2012.
This girl had it nailed. A look of frail determination, I think she was begging. In any case, a man in a top-hat accosted her forth-with, and there was spirited discussion about important matters of public dignity. Or, so I assumed, as I can’t understand Dutch. Deventer Dickens Festival, 2012.
children at deventer
This small child had a sack roughly roped to his head, covering his eyeballs, all in the name of entertainment. Bravo.
She got that little bit more sickly and more destitute when she saw the camera. Dickens Festival, Deventer, 2012.
She got a pinch more sickly and added that extra touch of destitution, when she saw the camera. Dickens Festival, Deventer, 2012.
Charles Dickens?
These people were openly insulting the grubby little street children. Deventer Christmas Festival, 2012.
drunk in deventer
Drunk in Deventer, 2012
Deventer is no place for a couple of wee young homeless lasses! Dickens Festival, 2012.
Penny Farthing, Deventer
Penny Farthing convoy – Deventer Dickens Festival, 2012

I never thought I would be recommending a Charles Dickens festival, but yep, it’s really worth it if you find yourself in The Netherlands close to Christmas.

Dickens Festival Deventer – It’s Free.

And, Here’s Some Other Information.

The town of Deventer is located in the Dutch province of Overijssel, on the banks of the river Ijssel. And, if you can pronounce Deventer, Overijssel, or Ijssel correctly, you must be Dutch. The Dickens Festival in Deventer is always held on the last weekend before Christmas, and is free to enter. It begins at 11am on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, please check the official Dickens Festival Deventer website.


child award winning actor deventer
Devastated in Deventer, 2012.
deventer police are on the scene
Victorian-era police keeping an eye out for any trouble. Deventer Dickens Festival, 2012.

Hope you enjoyed the photos.


PS, wow, what a year. I’m having a hard time processing all I have seen and experienced, since embarking on this journey almost five months ago. There’s multiple countries I have visited without adding a single article about them. So, a big sorry to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Germany – I’ll write about you shortly. Thanks for reading, and thanks for following along – I really appreciate it.

BTW, I would love to send you the next dispatch, posted from some-where random around this planet (and you'll soon find out why YOMADIC email followers are my favourite followers):

15 thoughts on “Grubby Street Kids, Dandies, and Drunks – Dickens Festival Deventer

  1. How freaking much fun is this?? It’s definitely going on my list of things to experience. Love the pics, great decision to do make them black & white. Oh, and get on those missing posts of the other countries! :) Merry Merry Christmas to you and Phillipa!

  2. these image are awesome.they look as if they are really vintage from the older. very interesting post and this festival is really interesting too…nice.Hope you have a great December ahead

  3. Looks like a great event. Where you going to be spending Christmas Nate?

    Well done on the Steve Huff Blog post – got a bit of de javu when it appeared in my inbox for a second time!!

    Have a great festive and new year period!

    1. Thanks mate – must have been a spin, seeing the photos show up for a second time…. thanks for the well wishes, and same to you! I’m spending Christmas in The Netherlands, I’ll continue to use this part of the world as a base, until about mid-January, then it’s off on another adventure…

  4. Love these photos Nate and love the whole idea of this festival. As a fellow bah-humbugger it certainly looks like a unique place to re-ignite the Christmas spirit.

  5. For English speakers, the proper pronunciation would be DAY-fun-turr (Deventer), EYE-sell (IJssel), OVER-eye-sell (Overijssel). Good luck on your travels. :)

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