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Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals Brings Holiday Cheer to the Strand

Myrtle Beach is best known for the hot-weather holidays — the Memorial Day kickoff to summer, the fun and fireworks of the Fourth of July, and the last summer splash of Labor Day. But for year-round visitors who also enjoy the chillier holidays, many are discovering the magic of a winter break in Myrtle Beach to celebrate Thanksgiving, New Year's and even Christmas.

The Grand Strand goes all out for off-season holidays, including a full six weeks of festivities for Christmas. The traditional start to the celebration is the 35th Annual Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals, which will be held Nov. 10-13 at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center. Featuring four days of Victorian-themed displays and exhibits, this family-friendly event allows visitors to soak up some holiday cheer and get into the Christmas spirit with music, shopping, teas, tours and more.

Guests at the Caribbean Resort & Villas are only a short walk away from the most popular Christmas kickoff in town, as the Myrtle Beach Convention Center’s 100,000-square-foot exhibition hall is filled with holiday cheer. Perhaps the highlight of the Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals is the Victorian Holiday Marketplace, where more than 350 vendors dressed in period garb display their wares. Patrons can shop for gifts, decorations, toys, jewelry, gourmet foods, arts and crafts, and much more.

The Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals provides a great chance to get an early start on your holiday gift list, and there are plenty of things for you and the others in your party to do besides shop. Featuring fun for the whole family, the event includes strolling Victorian musicians playing carols for the crowd, tea leaf readings, shadow box displays, Punch & Judy shows and the always-popular "Santa Through the Ages Exhibit" that features life-sized statues of ol' Saint Nick throughout history.

Another highlight of the Christmas Show & Festivals is the Festival of Trees display that includes elaborately decorated evergreens with antique ornaments and colorful strands of cranberries and beads. Other displays feature traditional dinner tables and ornamental wreaths. The Festival of Worlds exhibit gives patrons a global view of the holiday by showing how Christmas is celebrated in various cultures. Most of the festival items on display are available for bids via silent auction.

The Dickens Christmas Show & Festivals also offers the chance to experience companion events like the Victorian Holiday Teas and Holiday Tours. Two luncheon-style teas will be held Friday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and a High Tea session is set for Friday from 3:30 to 5 p.m. All teas include a seated meal of entrees, desserts and drinks while enjoying a one-man performance of "A Christmas Carol" by Shakespearean actor Howard Burnham, as well as other great live entertainment.

This year's tour schedule revolves around the theme of Christmas in the Lowcountry, offering a firsthand look at how the folks of the South Carolina coast celebrate the holiday in their own unique style. Tour buses take passengers for a one-day trip to Georgetown or Charleston to visit the historic sites. Scheduled stops on the Georgetown tour include the old rice plantations decorated for the season, and the Charleston Museum & House Tour allows you to look inside some of the beautiful mansions in the city.

The four-day event at the convention center will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday and from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Single-day admission is $9.50 for adults and $4.50 for children ages 2-12, or visitors can purchase a multi-day pass for $14. Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more at a ticket rate of $7.50 for a one-day pass and $12 for multiple days. Tickets for the tours and teas are available at an additional charge. For more info, visit www.dickenschristmasshow.com.