Last holiday season, I took my mother and my 10-year-old daughter Maggie to Cambridge, Ohio, to experience the annual Dickens Victorian Village. We all loved it and I think your family will too. Best of all, most of the festivities are free!

Last holiday season, I took my mother and my 10-year-old daughter Maggie to Cambridge, Ohio, to experience the annual Dickens Victorian Village. We all loved it and I think your family will too. Best of all, most of the festivities are free!

The historic downtown area of Cambridge is amazingly transformed with Victorian scenes stationed along the street, comprised of characters from Charles Dickens' stories. There are nearly 170 mannequins adorned with vintage costumes arranged around lampposts and the Courtsquare, bringing the Victorian era to life. Photo opportunities abound, so be sure to take your camera.

You and your kids will enjoy strolling the street and will probably recognize favorite characters such as Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and Father Christmas, but you'll also find carolers, a glass blower, shoppers, a bucket brigade, bag ladies, school children, street peddlers and the town crier all positioned in realistic scenes.

One of Maggie's favorite stops was the Dickens Welcome Center where you'll find complementary refreshments, event information, My SweeTea Pie Tea Room and the Imagination Station - a free Victorian dress-up area where children and adults can don vintage clothing and pose for photos with 'Charles Dickens.' You're never too old to play dress-up!

Jonett Haberfield is the Dickens Victorian Village event co-chair and said the Cambridge residents also get into the spirit. "A lot of the locals like to dress up in Victorian costumes when they come downtown to the Dickens Victorian Village," she said. "Romance is also sparked as last year two visiting couples got engaged during the event. For one of them we even had 'Father Christmas' there to greet them."

My daughter's other favorite experience took place as darkness set in - The Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Light Show. You'll be fascinated, just as we were, as over 25,000 lights dance across the courthouse synchronized to holiday music. Four different music and light shows rotate throughout the evening, including a children's set with childhood favorites such as Frosty the Snowman, so be sure to stay and watch them all. This also is a free activity.

A full slate of other events surround the Victorian Village season including the Coal Miner's Christmas train rides on the Byesville Scenic Railway, Peddler Weekends featuring heritage artisans and peddlers along the street, Gingerbread House Contest and Display, A Christmas Carol live performances, the National Museum of Cambridge Glass exhibits and afternoon teas at the SweeTea Pie Tearoom.

Of course, while we were enjoying the Victorian Village last year, we had to indulge in a sweet treat by stopping in at Kennedy's Bakery.

And if you are looking for a delicious, affordable, home-cooked meal, all the locals will tell you that you have to try Theo's Restaurant.

Make an affordable family trip to Dickens Victorian Village in Cambridge a part of your holiday plans. Visiting 'Old World England' (only a few miles away) just might become a new family tradition. Check out their website at www.dickensvictorianvillage.com.


Dickens Welcome Center & Ye Ole Curiosity Shoppe with Imagination Station
Open Tuesdays through Sundays
Nov. 1, 2009 through Jan. 9, 2010, noon to 8 p.m.
643 Wheeling Ave., Cambridge (next to Penny Court)
www.dickensvictorianvillage.com.

All Dickens all the time! Visit with volunteers in costume as they share stories and photos of how the Dickens display was created. Purchase Dickens and holiday souvenirs as you go behind the scenes to learn how it took a village to create this magnificent 10-week community event. Stop in for your walking tour brochure, commemorative merchandise, original artwork, complementary light refreshments, and event information. Purchase carriage ride tickets, or experience the Imagination Station and have your photo taken in period costume to take home to remember.


Guernsey County Courthouse Holiday Music & Light Show
Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009 through Sunday, Jan. 10, 2010, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Guernsey County Courthouse Lawn Wheeling Ave., downtown Cambridge

This amazing light spectacular is presented nightly starting at 5:30 p.m. and is shown every 20 minutes until the final production of the evening, which starts at 9 p.m. Visitors are asked to please park their cars at appropriate parking lots and spaces in downtown and watch the show from the Courthouse lawn so as not to cause a traffic hazard with stopped cars in the streets.


Gingerbread House Contest & Display
Monday, Nov. 16 through Wednesday, Dec. 31
Cambridge Classic Ford showroom 1023 Wheeling Ave., downtown Cambridge


Byesville Scenic Railway "A Coal Miner's Christmas" train ride
Train departs at 1 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 5, Sunday, Dec. 6, Saturday, Dec. 12
Downtown Byesville (off Route 209, just south of Cambridge)

A Coal Miner's Christmas: Learn how coal miners and their families celebrated the holiday season through a dramatic presentation performed while riding a vintage train in the Appalachian foothills. Refreshments served for a donation. $12 for adults, $9 for children ages 3-12, children under 3 are free. www.BSRW.org (Byesville Scenic Railway).


Peddler Weekends & Rotary Square
Featuring heritage artisans, peddlers and carriage rides. Peddler Weekends take place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the following dates: Friday, Dec. 4; Saturday, Dec. 5; Friday, Dec. 11; Saturday, Dec. 12; Friday, Dec. 18; Saturday, Dec. 19
Along Wheeling Ave., Cambridge

Rotary Square is a small but life-sized Victorian village modeled after shops from Charles Dickens' stories.


National Museum of Cambridge Glass
Open noon to 4 p.m. on the following dates: Saturday, Dec. 5; Saturday, Dec. 12; Saturday, Dec. 19
136 S. Ninth St., Cambridge

The museum will be decorated for the season and feature a Christmas tree decorated with Cambridge Glass. Guests can make their own rubbings from original etching plates in the Education Center, and view a movie made in the 1940s by the Cambridge Glass Company. Additional hours for group tours are available by calling (740) 432-4245. For more information visit www.cambridgeglass.org. $4 general admission; $3 for seniors and AAA members; free for children under 12.


Afternoon Tea at SweeTea Pie Tea Boutique
Open 4-7 p.m. the following dates: Saturday, Dec. 5; Saturday, Dec. 12; Saturday, Dec. 19; Saturday, Dec. 26
643 Wheeling Ave., Cambridge (next to Penny Court)

Full tea includes tea, scones, savories, sweets and desserts. Costume dress pieces are available for your experience, or come dressed in your own! Reservations are available but not required. Seating is limited. Contact Cathy Seeley at (740) 826-4441. $14.95 per person.


Cambridge Performing Arts Centre's A Christmas Carol
Friday, Dec. 4, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 5, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 6, 3 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 13, 3 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 18, 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 20, 3 p.m.

Cambridge Performing Arts Centre, 642 Wheeling Ave., Cambridge. Enjoy this timeless classic and holiday favorite as local actors perform the Charles Dickens play presented in the historic Cambridge Performing Arts Centre. $10 for adults; $8 for seniors (65 and older) and students (18 and younger); children 5 and under are free. (740) 872-4228.


Jan Myers is a freelance writer and mother in Coshocton. Her son Maxx is 15 and daughter Maggie is 10. She has thoroughly enjoyed every stage of her children's development.