Charles Dickens never made it to Texas, but if somehow he magically appeared in the little Hill Country town of Boerne during the holidays, he would surely feel right at home. Why? Well, for the past 13 years, the good people of Boerne have embraced a rather English tradition an annual “Dickens on Main” festival each holiday season, with a tip of the hat to Charles Dickens and his legendary literary characters like Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.

Boerne (pronounced “Burr-nee”), a historic hamlet less than 30 miles from San Antonio, was founded by German settlers in the mid- 1800s, and in many ways it still holds tightly to its German traditions and roots. However, each year, all along the Hauptstrasse (Boerne’s German name for Main Street), locals and visitors flock to see the town transformed into a Victorian London-like setting straight from the pages of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol a place where the shops, sidewalks, streetlamps and store windows are decked in their finest shimmering holiday splendor with broad green garlands, twinkling white lights, candy-cane stripes and oversized red bows. Horses pulling carriages clomp down the streets, carolers sing in doorways, and white lights twinkle in shop windows.

God bless us everyone

This year during two weekends (Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 6 & 7), Boerne will be home to shopping, carriage rides, re-enactments of A Christmas Carol scenes, “fire jugglers” and other family-friendly entertainment during the Dickens on Main festivities. They’ll even host a “Weihnachts” night parade on Dec. 1 the only night that snow isn’t in the forecast for Boerne during the festival.

For More Information go to www.dickensonmain.com

Let it snow!

Yes, that’s right Santa guarantees snow this year, thanks to the Christmas Shoppe on Main Street, which sponsors the “snow show” each evening on the south end of Main Street during the festival. The snow will begin promptly at 6:30 p.m., and it will fall every hour, on the hour, for about 10 minutes. There will be four snow shows each evening, beginning at 6:30, again at 7:30, and at 8:30, with the final snow show at 9:30 p.m.

Country life, close to the city

Hugging the northwestern rim of San Antonio, just north of Loop 1604 along Interstate 10, Boerne is a delightful destination, and not just during the holidays. All year, the town is an ideal weekend getaway or day-trip destination; and because Boerne is so close to San Antonio, it’s becoming more and more popular as a bedroom community with an easy commute. It’s the perfect place to build a sprawling Hill Country home in areas like Cordillera Ranch and Fair Oaks Ranch and provides a good school district for the kids.

A shopper’s paradise

Boerne is also a popular place for shopping. With dozens of boutiques, art galleries, clothing stores, antique stores, consignment malls, home décor shops, kitchen gadget stores and more, Boerne draws shoppers from all over the state. Most boutiques line Boerne’s Main Street, but even side streets hide little not-to-be missed treasures. There are also bakeries, fudge shops, wine bars, beer gardens, restaurants, cafes and more. During the holiday season and all year round, don’t miss the Christmas Shoppe on Main Street with its vast array of ornaments, lights and decorations.

Follow the Art & Wine Trail

Besides its eclectic calendar of events, shopping and dining options and its famed getaway lure, Boerne is also proud of its art galleries. To showcase its town’s talent, Boerne offers a popular Second Saturday Art & Wine trail on the second Saturday of each month from 4 until 8 p.m. A free “hop on/hop off” trolley ensures a pleasant ride for shoppers along Main Street, too. Not fond of shopping? Take a nice stroll around this little town anyway: Visit its limestone Episcopal church, the historic Ye Kendall Inn and its Main Plaza Park bandstand features which give Boerne an appealing Bedford Falls-like small-town touch.

Boerne’s natural beauty

There are also many natural wonders to enjoy near Boerne, including the Cave Without a Name, Cascade Caverns, the Kruetzberg Canyon Natural Area, the River Road Park, Cibolo Nature Center, the Kuhlmann-King Historical House, Enchanted Springs Ranch, Joshua Creek Ranch and the Guadalupe River Ranch Resort & Spa. Bicycle around downtown, canoe, kayak or have a picnic on the banks of Cibolo Creek, or ride horseback on a trail ride. With restaurants, day spas, wine bars, cabins and B&Bs, hunting leases and fishing spots, Boerne offers many things to do. Whether you’re heading to Boerne for Dickens on Main, exploring its Second Saturday Art Trail, making a day trip to shop for antiques or relocating there for a lifetime, you’re sure to enjoy Boerne a place where even a humbug like old Mr. Scrooge would feel welcome.

By Janis Turk