2012 is the year of Charles Dickens. The bicentenary of the writer’s birth is February 7, but the festivities are taking place all year long. Hundreds of exhibits, film screenings, walking tours, and more are featured in the Events Calendar on Dickens2012.com. Plus, bibliophiles can follow along on Twitter for bicentenary-related news.

Many of the events are happening in the UK, from a read-along of Oliver Twist in Portsmouth, where Dickens was born, to a Christmas market where characters from his novels will mingle with revelers in the town of Rochester, near where he lived the last years of his life.

The Charles Dickens Museum in London (left) is celebrating the author’s birthday with a dinner at the Mansion House, the home and office of the Lord Mayor of London. The evening’s agenda includes a sherry reception, three-course dinner, and Dickensian entertainment led by actor Sir Patrick Stewart. Details: February 7, 6:45-10:30 p.m., £120 per person.

The Museum is also hosting a Dickens Reading Group to explore the writer’s works and those of his Victorian-era contemporaries. The first twelve-week session kicks off Thursday, February 17, and takes place at the atmospheric museum, Dickens’ only surviving London residence.

Other festivities around the world include an exhibit, “The Mysteries of Charles Dickens (1812-1870),” at the Museum Strauhof in Zurich, Switzerland, and the “Dickens Heritage Tour” in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France, where he often holidayed. Fans in Houston, Texas, have come up with an unusual idea–a half-marathon especially for Dickens enthusiasts. For details on these and other events, visit Dickens2012.org.

[Images of the author © Charles Dickens Museum]