The Great Dickens Christmas Fair signaled the arrival of the festive season as it celebrated opening weekend at the Cow Palace. The Bay Area tradition immerses visitors in the world of Victorian London with colorful characters, music venues, theatres, pubs and an array of entertainment. The event returned to a personal experience after a two-year hiatus from the pandemic.
Designed and constructed in 1970, by the Patterson family, the show remains a historically authentic, family-run immersive theater.
Father Christmas visit with children. | Photo: Cheryl Guerrero/Hoodline
New this year is the addition of Vauxhall Gardens. This park-like Victorian setting has been added in a new 50,000 square foot area and is free for the public to visit. It offers a skating rink, refreshment stand, and Christmas tree area with live trees for sale.
Visitors who have experienced the fair will recognize the familiar streets, theatres, and activities. However, in an effort to increase attendee comfort, the event added new ventilation and a redesigned layout that allowed more air in from the open doorways.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to bring back this beloved holiday tradition,” General Manager Drew Patterson said in a statement. “We will continue to do everything in our power to make this beloved event a safe, enjoyable and accessible experience for all of our guests and participants.”
cheap music hall performers | Photo: Cheryl Guerrero/Hoodline
The fair features nearly 100 shops and carts offering crafts, clothing, jewelry, toys, trinkets, and more. It also hosts a food arcade with everything from English fare to tea service to desserts. Vegetarian and vegetarian food options are also available.
Guests will find entertainment for the whole family, including music, crafts, puppet shows, and raucous theatrical performances. This year they also added an interactive Sherlock Holmes experience where attendees can help the detective with evidence to solve the case.
Sergei Trubetskoy amidst the columns in his wife Pyoma Mia’s shop. | Photo: Cheryl Guerrero/Hoodline
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party will be open Saturdays and Sundays from November 19 through December 18. It will also open on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Tickets must be purchased in advance online, with discounts for youth, military, and entrances after 3 p.m
Here are more scenes from the exhibition’s opening day:
The performers take part in “Scrooge and Belle”.
Calliope Designs of Santa Rosa has been making ornaments for 50 years.
Lee and Molly Anthony from Beaverton, Oregon, enjoyed the rink. He told me they made the trip from Oregon specifically for the show.
Audience participation in “Trickish Matters with Jeremiah Johnston.”
Champagne service at Green Man Inn.
View the book at the Fitz-Gerald Manor Store.
Candle maker at work.
Artists perform at the Irish Christmas Celebration.
Holder of a Pewter Foundry Fellowship.
Children enjoy musical entertainment on stage at Cratchit’s Yard.
Le Cancan Bijou performance.