While the central Island community of Port Alberni is busy reinventing itself, morphing from a fishing and logging town to a paradise for lovers of the outdoors, another group of promoters has something entirely different in mind. In fact, their plan for a huge Jane Austen Festival harkens back to the genteel days long before major industry dominated the local economy.
Port Alberni’s Centennial Belles have been planning the Jane Austen Festival for some time, organizing a packed two days of events that they hope will end with setting a Guinness world record.
The events kick off on Friday, July 8 with a regency-style brunch at the city’s beautiful old Rollin Art Centre. Hot on the heels of the brunch is an afternoon tea at the same location. The historic home that serves as the Rollin Art Centre is surrounded by beautiful gardens, so a visit for this very special gathering might be an enjoyable introduction to the world of Jane Austen and her peers.
Activities shift to the Capitol Theatre at 7:30 on Friday evening, where there will be readings of Jane Austen’s works. Her five major novels, which included Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and Emma, were all commentaries on Austen’s times. They interpret, critique and comment on the life of the English landed gentry and will take attendees back to a world and society long since faded from view.
Saturday, July 9 will be another big and engaging day for those attending the Jane Austen Festival. First on the agenda is the attempt at the Glenwood Centre to set a Guinness world record for the number of people garbed in regency dress. The Guinness folks have laid out strict parameters of what is required in the way of regency costume, so anyone interested in participating should click on the website below and follow the link to the Guiness World Record Guidelines, embedded in the festival programme. Each participant will be photographed and will be given a number to ensure that all entries in the record attempt are properly turned out.
Saturday evening will see the wind-up event for the Jane Austen Festival with a Grande Regency Ball at the United Church Hall, complete with a full late evening regency-style supper served at 10:30 p.m. Regency dress is required.
So, for those looking for a taste of ‘the good old days’, the Jane Austen Festival might just be the ticket – it will be a refreshing change of pace that should bring a reminder of the mores and morals of yesteryear, a look at the genteel world of the late 18th century. If you are planning to attend any of the activities the organizers advise to get your tickets early – they can be ordered through the website.
Further information on the Jane Austen Festival can be found at the Centennial Belles website: