Christmas in California

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San Francisco Great Dickens Christmas Fair

5 Weekends November 19 - December 18, 2022, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

November 19, 20, 25, 26 & 27, 2022; December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 & 18, 2022

Enter the Heart of the Holidays - a Victorian Christmas Card come to life! Raise a toast & feast on delicious foods, from exquisite savories to heavenly sweets. Entertainments abound on 7 stages & throughout the winding lanes of "Old London." Lively characters throughout the streets of London town! Explore a wonderland of one-of-a-kind artisan treasures for perfect holiday gifts.

The Cow Palace
2600 Geneva Ave.
San Francisco, CA
$30-46; Season Pass $161, dickensfair.com
$12-15, Parking at Cow Palace 

San Francisco, CA—An incredibly unique and special event established in 1970 to celebrate one of the most festive holidays came about in San Francisco and created a popular tradition that many plan for months in advance. Held annually at Cow Palace, fairgoers of all ages are invited to discover the characters of Charles Dickens' London face-to-face, as more than 700 costumed players  re-create an authentically Victorian holiday atmosphere.

The Dickens Family Parlour over on Nickelby Road is worth exploring -- the Dickens family, characters from his novels and even Dickens, himself, often make appearances.  Parlour games, Christmas carols and sing-a-longs, a working Victorian kitchen and even Mr. Scrooge comes by to pay his respects during the holiday season!

Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty holiday foods fill the air, along with cries of street vendors hawking their wares and lamp-lit shops filled to overflowing with authentic Christmas treasures. It's the Great Dickens Christmas Fair. Larger than ever with nearly 3 acres full of new shows, sights, sounds and attractions, you're  invited to mingle with more than 700 costumed players from the imagination & times of Charles Dickens.

Ebenezer Scrooge, Father Christmas, Edgar Allen Poe, C.S. Lewis, Tiny Tim, Her Majesty Queen Victoria with members of her family & court are awaiting your presence where nearly three acres of exhibition halls are magically transformed into the winding lanes, shops, theatres, stages, and pubs of Victorian London.  Experience the joys of Christmases past! 

700 costumed players who bring the city to life with new entertainment this year including Richardson's Empire of Wonders-- a Victorian sideshow filled with whimsical wonders and curious conundrums; a sprightly production of the perennial favorite Pinocchio; and a new Christmas Carol environmental theater. 

The Fair features five authentic English pubs serving libations for all ages, including champagne, hot chocolate, hot buttered rum, or a pint of stout or ale on draft. Holiday entertainment opportunities abound for both the young and the young at heart. For the little ones, there are visits with Father Christmas, a hand-powered Adventure Carousel, Punch & Judy puppet shows, a parade with Mother Goose, a children's painting garden, as well as the chance to meet characters from A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Nicholas Nickleby.

Youngsters can also try their hand at being printer's devils with an actual 1860s printing press, learn to tie intricate knots and sing sea chanteys at the Paddy West School of Seamanship, become adorned with temporary tattoos or French braiding, or create their own holiday gifts such as rolled beeswax candles and hand-painted ceramic ornaments. They can also create their own miniature Fairy house, or learn to play darts at the Cat n Bull Dart & Gaming Parlour.

Bid farewell to the frenetic shopping malls of the 21st century and find that perfect one-of-a-kind holiday gift in the shops of Victorian London. Each year, more than 100 costumed vendors offer their artisan wares, including Victorian reproductions, fine art, romantic clothing, handsome drinkware, unusual ceramics, dazzling jewelry and accessories, even an overstocked antiquarian bookseller.

Adult patrons love to gather at Mad Sal's Dockside Ale House to sing rowdy favorites and watch high-kicking dancers take to the stage for the wicked Can- Can Bijou. The immensely popular and roguish Saucy French Postcard Tableaux Revue, with all new tableaux vivants, returns to the Victoria & Albert Bijou Music Hall.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is directed and produced each year by three generations of the Patterson family, creators and producers for more than four decades of the world's original Renaissance Faire at Black Point Forest in Marin County and in Southern California.

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party is must-attend event for those seeking to step into the shoes of their ancestors and for a day get a sense of what it must have been like to wear the wonderful costumes and clothing of the Victorian era.

Immortalized by famed author Charles Dickens, guests are invited to enter the busy streets of London and imagine Christmas Past. Wear fine costumes and visit Victorian London where carolers and holiday merrymakers stroll.

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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