TRADERS have been urged to go as Victorian as possible at this year's Dickensian Evening in Wantage.

Organisers of the 19th century-themed Christmas lights party have said efforts with 19th century costumes have waned in recent years.

This year they have encouraged stall-holders to pull out all the stops and make the atmosphere as magical as possible.

Chairman of the Dickensian Evening Committee Jim Hetherington said: "We feel that over the years the Dickensian theme to the evening has relaxed, and this year we want to try to make sure that all stall holders make the effort to dress up themselves and their stalls."

He also said the committee would love it if all stalls were illuminated, either with fairy lights or Victorian-style lanterns.

He added: "This will add to the magical atmosphere that we are trying to create."

This year's Dickensian Evening will be held in Wantage town centre on Friday, December 2.

The event will be officially opened by Mayor Steve Trinder at 6pm, accompanied by the ringing of the parish church bells and followed some seasonal tunes from Wantage Silver Band.

The entire market place will be taken over by more than 30 stalls selling hot food such as hog roast and fish and chips; crafts, charities and local businesses.

And, to encourage stalls to embrace the Dickensian theme, the best-decorated will get their stall-holder's fee (£15 for a charity and £40 for a business) refunded.

The Vale and Downland Museum will be open late with live entertainment and refreshments and Wantage Library will be offering late-night stories and hot chocolate from 6pm to 7.30pm.

Father Christmas will this year attempt to be in two places at once – the market place and the museum, handing out presents and taking orders for the big day.

In the market place he will be accompanied by real, live reindeer, not to be confused with the donkeys nearby.

The parish church will also host stalls and events throughout the evening and Icknield Way Morris Men are planning to give several performances around the town.

Wantage Baptist Church in Mill Street will be hosting carol singing and children's Christmas craft stalls.

Even the local constabulary have been persuaded to embrace the Dickensian theme, donning 19th century capes for one evening.

The official celebrations will climax will festive choir singing in the church at 8.15pm followed by a grand prize draw with a top prize of £250 cash.

For more details see