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Sunshine and Charles Dickens bring thousands of visitors to historic Rochester

By Sarah Clarke

Rochester's Dickens Festival got off to a busy start yesterday but organisers were expecting even bigger crowds today with the event graced by glorious sunshine.

Thousands of visitors, many of them wearing Victorian costume, were expected to go along to the festival in the historic High Street, castle and surrounding area.

Festival visitors looking fabulous in Victorian outfits

One of the highlights of the day will be the parade of costumed characters but there is plenty more going on including street theatre, music, readings and competitions.

There is also a fun fair in the Castle Gardens to keep children amused and a craft fair to please those who like to shop.

A giant model of the great author makes its way along the High Street

Dickens spent much of his life in Medway, moving to Chatham with his family when he was just five, and many of his novels and characters were inspired by his experiences of living here.

This year’s festival is paying homage to his most autobiographical novel, David Copperfield. It was also the book he liked best. In the preface to the 1867 edition, Dickens wrote: “Like many fond parents, I have in my heart of hearts a favourite child. And his name is David Copperfield.”

Local company Play on Words has been commissioned by Medway Council to write and perform a bite-sized theatre piece about David Copperfield that is being acted out a dozen times during the course of the festival.

Cyril Baldwin, left, and Tony Trower in costume for the Dickens Festival

This is the 34th Rochester Dickens Festival and its popularity shows no sign of waning with many visitors travelling from all over the UK and Europe to join in the fun. The final day of the 2014 festival is tomorrow.

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