The Great Dickens Christmas Fair: Victorian London comes to San Francisco

December 2, 2017

Singers in Victorian London costume at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair

What is The Great Dickens Christmas Fair?

The Fair is an indoor holiday festival based on Charles Dickens’ Victorian London. These winding halls are filled with characters from the books, unique shops, British food. It is the perfect event for the holidays.

Entering Victorian London

Dancers in costume at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair themed like Vicotrian LondonEven before entering the exhibition hall, I catch glimpses of other visitors arriving in Victorian themed clothing.  Gentlemen in top hands or kilts and women in corseted dresses are everywhere. But being in costume is completely optional, you will be welcomed with whatever you wear. Upon entering, I am given a map of “London”. To my left is Fezziwig’s which is a grand ball of costumed dancers twirling to the upbeat music. The dance hall decorated with green garlands.

Shopping and Carols

Singers at the Dickens Christmas Fair themed like Victorian London

I walk down the grand concourse and weave past the other costumed guests, I pass by dozens of little shops selling hand-made Christmas ornaments, unique toys, beautiful jewelry, and a wide array of costumes. For the Harry Potter fans there is a wand shop that you won’t want to miss. The delightful singing of Christmas songs leads me to the London Docks. Continuing along, I find a crowd gathered at the corset shop. The women on display are completely still, as if they are mannequins.  Their signs read “VOTES FOR WOMEN!”…because nothing says women’s empowerment like a…corset?

Corset Shop at Dickens Christmas Fair themed like Victorian London

Pushing past the gawkers, I pass by the ale houses and bohemian bar of Ale House Alley. As I turn the corner, I see Ebenezer Scrooge and one of his Christmas Ghosts.

Surviving Scarlet Fever

Card of Scarlet Fever at Dickens Christmas Fair themed like Victorian London

I head towards Pickwick Place to get some tea.  Along the way, a man in costume, looking a bit bedraggled, stumbles over to me and hands me a card. Before I can think to not take it, it’s already in my hand. I assume it’s a card to advertise something but nope. It’s a card congratulating me on contracting Scarlet Ague (aka Scarlet Fever).

Scarlet fever is a disease that is featured in many Charles Dickens novels. It’s the same illness that Beth March develops in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. As a common illness in Victorian London, Scarlet Fever is a part of life for many authors of the time and consequently became part of their stories as well.

Thankfully my scarlet fever is just a card. I enjoy an evil cackle as I realize that I get to pass this infection card onto someone else. I’m waiting in line to buy some tea.  A couple is in line behind me. After paying, I take my hot tea, turn around and give the card to the woman behind me, maybe she’ll think it’s a coupon. “Oh I’m so sorry” I say while holding back giggles. She looked at the card and at me and shrank away horrified as if I really had scarlet fever. Mission accomplished! Mhahahaha!

Visiting the Great Dickens Fair

Please forgive the low quality of these photos, these were taken before I bought my new camera. But I think the images still do well enough at capturing some of the feeling of the event. I listened to battle plans from a commander, I saw the ominous East India Company, I saw Queen Victoria, as well as a “drunken” performer passed out near a bar. I had a wonderful time, and so will you. I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’ve returned to the event several times. The fair is very kid friendly. There are lots of games, and performances for kids of all ages. Something for everyone in the family.
Soldier in battle dress at Dickens Christmas Fair themed in Victorian London Dickens Christmas Fair themed in Victorian London Facade of East India Company at Dickens Christmas Fair themed in Victorian London Drunk performer passed out on ground at Dickens Christmas Fair themed in Victorian London   Queen Victoria at Dickens Christmas Fair themed in Victorian London
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Dates & Hours
Weekends from Nov 18 – Dec 17, 2017
10am – 7pm

Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, CA

Adults (13+): $30
Children (5-12): $14
Children (under 5): FREE

Parking & Transportation
There is amble parking for $12. If you have a handicapped placard, you can park at  both the gate 5 entrance or main entrance. Take BART or Mini to the Glen Park BART Station, then board the FREE shuttle. The Shuttle runs every 30 minutes from 10am to 7pm each fair day.

The fair is handicapped accessible. Wheelchairs are available for rental at the Cloack Check inside the Fair for $10 for 4 hours or $20 for 4+ hours on a first-come, first-served basis.

Fore more info, see the Great Dickens Christmas Fair website.

Related Books

Throughout the fair, you may run into Dickens characters from his books.

Have you been to the Great Dickens Fair? Tell us in the comments what you thought about it!

Singers in Victorian London costume at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair

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By Amber Alexander

Through my own adventures, I strive to provide insight into experiences that will enrich your life. Traveling is my passion and I want to share that with you. Along with recommendations for adventures, I will also review books and supplies that are related to those adventures. I want you to push your own boundaries of what you thought you could do. Let me be your guide and compass to rediscovering how fun life can be!

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