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Jane Austen Festival chasing world record

Get your Regency garb ready for upcoming Port Alberni event
Chamber Opera Tours from Chicago will be bringing Jane Austen’s Persuasion: A Musical Drama to Port Alberni—along with 80 additional bodies for a World Record count. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Members of the Port Alberni chapter of the Jane Austen Society of North America are hoping that the third time will be the charm for a Guinness World Record.

READ: Port Alberni to pursue Jane Austen Festival record again in 2018

READ: Jane Austen Fest draws nearly 300 to Port Alberni

Port Alberni will be hosting its third annual Jane Austen Festival from Thursday, July 5 through Sunday, July 8, and organizers hope to gather a record-breaking number of people in Regency costume at the Alberni District Secondary School Theatre on Saturday, July 7.

Organizer Tricia Knight said she had no plans to hold the count this year, until she learned that Chamber Opera Tours from Chicago planned to bring Jane Austen’s Persuasion: A Musical Drama to Port Alberni for the festival (July 5 and 6).

“When she called me, I asked, ‘You do know where Port Alberni is, right?’” Knight joked.

The festival will kick off on Thursday with this musical drama, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the publication of Persuasion. The production has toured the UK and North America for the past five years and features authentic period music, a chamber orchestra, beautiful Regency costumes, projected scenery and world-class dancers.

“This is a world-renowned show,” emphasized Knight.

Tickets are available now online at or at the Echo Centre. Shows will take place on Thursday and Friday at the Alberni District Secondary School Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

Last year’s festival drew 286 people to the Glenwood Centre from all across Canada, although additional bodies showed up too late to be counted. The musical will bring an additional 80 people in Regency garb to the count—which will put Port Alberni very close to the world record of 409.

The change of venue will also make counting easier, said Knight, as there will be no pre-registration required.

“It has in the past been a great deal of work,” said Knight. “This way it’s just a matter of people walking in and being counted.”

The count will take place at exactly 10 a.m. (latecomers will not be counted) at ADSS, and will be followed by a promenade around the Harbour Quay and Centennial Pier at noon.

At 2 p.m., a High Tea will be held at the Echo Centre, featuring sandwiches and desserts. And at 8 p.m. the Echo Centre will be transformed into a candlelit ball, with a full finger food buffet, a wine cash bar and a Card Room with card games and board games. Regency attire is not required, but is appreciated.

“There’s no experience necessary for the dancing,” said Knight. “We have a professional caller and our own Chamber Regency Orchestra.”

Tickets for the tea are $15 for adults and $10 for children 10 and under. The ball is $30 per person. Non-refundable tickets are available at the Echo Centre and at Boutique Belles Amies, but sales will be cut off on June 30.

Don’t have your costume yet? The rules for Regency wear are very strict, but you can find the guidelines for men, women and children online at, or attend one of the costume workshops at the Port Alberni Youth Centre on Monday, June 18 (12-3 p.m. and 6-8 p.m.) or Saturday June 22 (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) for help.

“You don’t want to be number 410,” warned Knight.

Elena Rardon

About the Author: Elena Rardon

I have worked with the Alberni Valley News since 2016.
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