I love this time of year and an annual event I love to attend is the Dickens Christmas Fair in San Francisco. This year it will end December 19 so this is your last chance to step back in time and enjoy a Victorian Christmas in old London.
Held every year at the Cow Palace, the transformation is a miracle. The first year I went, I was totally unsure of how an event center that is usually home to everything from dog shows to rodeos could be transformed into merry old London during the time of Charles Dickens. However, the moment you enter, you are greeted by an extensive cast of characters who remain in character during your entire visit. No detail has been left out. British flags can be seen throughout, and gentlemen with top hats and ladies in Victorian dress are strolling about at every turn. Little boys dressed up as messengers, run around ringing bells yelling out messages and announcements in their best British accents (though they are probably from the Bay Area!)
One thing that I can count on every time I attend, is spending a chunk of money because the shopping is so great. If you like to find unusual, good quality gifts, I would recommend going for that reason alone. Since I have been going for the past few years, I now have favorite shops and merchants I like to go to for gifts and goodies for myself. I bought a really cool puzzle box for someone who collects unusual boxes, and I seem to always stock up on beautifully made hats and scarves for myself that you just wouldn’t find in the major stores. One shop that seems to get a lot of attention every year is the Dark Garden Corsetry which always has unique display windows with live models sporting their couture corsets.
The food and bars are a lot of fun to experience. They have typical British food such as bangers, meat pies, and fish and chips among others, but you can also find pizza, sandwiches, and quick snacks to enjoy while taking a break. However, they also have restaurants where you can sit and have tea, as well as pubs and bars, which serves drinks such as hot buttered rum, champagne, mulled wine, Irish coffee, among other delicious drinks. The bar maids seem to always have a ton of customers for some reason. (Just like the corset shop. Duh.)
The entertainment is nonstop and there are various stages throughout to enjoy a variety of shows. One in particular that I love to watch is the Scottish and Irish dancers show, which seems to always be packed since it’s like a taste of Riverdance in an intimate setting. A full schedule of the shows, descriptions of the shops and where to find everything can all be found on their website. http://www.dickensfair.com
You know me. If there’s a way I can escape for a day, I will. This is truly a treat where you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to experience a taste of a Victorian Christmas. Though I go to many street fairs during the summer, I’m pretty particular about events such as this. I have to admit, that I’m not really a “crafty” person and can feel overwhelmed by too many doilies. The Dickens Christmas Fair however is an event that has become a tradition in San Francisco, with participants who are passionate about creating an authentic atmosphere for those who wish to truly get into the Christmas spirit. I love it when you can find something for everyone. The Dickens Fair has plenty for the kids to enjoy as well as adults who want to have a hot toddie or find quality, unusual gifts for that special someone.
Dickens Christmas Fair
Running through December 19
Cow Palace-2600 Geneva Ave., San Francisco