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The Cow Palace rolls out the red and green carpet for the 2023 Great Dickens Christmas Fair!
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair Opens Saturday November 18 and runs weekends through Sunday December 17 from 10am to 6pm
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (February 14, 2023) The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party returns once again to the historic Cow Palace (2600 Geneva Ave.) on Saturdays and Sundays (as well as the Friday after Thanksgiving) from November 18 through December 17, 2023.
Now encompassing over four acres, this year’s Dickens Christmas Fair is filled to overflowing with holiday-themed shops, pubs, stages, and dance halls. Guests are greeted by the sweet aroma of roasted sugar almonds and swept into the fun by hundreds of colorful characters and the mirthful greetings of shopkeepers, street merchants, and fellow holiday merrymakers.
To increase audience comfort, attendance is limited via online-only ticket sales, date-specific ticketing, new ventilation, and a redesigned layout that allows for more fresh air from open doorways. “We are grateful for the opportunity to bring back this beloved holiday tradition,” says the Fair’s new general manager, Drew Patterson. “We will continue to do everything we can to make this much-loved event a safe, enjoyable, and accessible experience for all our guests and participants.”
The winding lanes of this ever-expanding world of Victorian holiday delights will include many new wonders for its return to full indoor production after the long two-and-a-half years of the pandemic. Experience the deeply immersive theater created by hundreds of skilled and engaging performers as you discover handmade treasures for your holiday gift giving or sit down to a pint of draft English Ale or a feast of hearty handmade foods.
Throughout the streets and stages, new theatrical works as well as traditional favorites will delight and entertain fairgoers young and old. Step into the Christmas Eve Past of Ebenezer Scrooge’s youth at Fezziwig’s Christmas Party for games, music, and unhosted sets of dancing throughout the day. Join Sherlock Holmes as he gathers clues to solve a mystery, or Oliver Twist for pick-pocketing school in Fagin’s Den. A traditional Christmas pantomime The Tale of Puss In Boots will delight the younger set, while Jim Chiminey returns with a comedic tale that unfolds based on the audiences’ answers. And, of course, the Victorian lanes and shops will be filled with an ensemble of characters found in Charles Dickens’ works, along with the illustrious author himself hosting readings from his ‘new’ story A Christmas Carol.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair overflows with holiday magic for the youngest guests, offering hands-on craft activities, old-world games of skill and chance, and lively interactive shows. Back this year are Mr. Punch and his mischievous friends in the Punch & Judy puppet show, as well as The Bold Tailor, a Grimm’s Fairy Tale brought to life with young actors from the audience. For more hands-on fun, try the Dart Parlour, fencing lessons, or the hand-powered Adventure Carousel. Or, build your own Fairy House to take home for the holidays!
The Dickens Fair’s delicious traditional fare and libations are back – including Fish & Chips, Bangers and Mash, and East Indian delicacies. Tea will be served with traditional English tea service, complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and cakes. You may also enjoy delectable Scotch Eggs as well as expanded vegan and vegetarian food options. Takeaway items – perfect for seasonal gifting – include handmade chocolates, gourmet salts, English Christmas cakes and puddings, and specialty teas.
After a day of shopping and entertainment, enjoy a pint at one of the Fair’s five English pubs, including an absinthe tasting at the Bohemian Absinthe Bar.
Shop for the perfect holiday gift and revel in a wonderland of one-of-a-kind artisan treasures. Nearly 100 beautiful shops and carts offer fine crafts, fanciful clothing and accessories, ceramics, elegant drinkware, stunning jewelry, toys, ornaments, antiquarian books, and more. Peruse at your pleasure, and don’t miss these fine purveyors:
- The Curious Wonder Caravan – Nadya Geras-Carson exhibits sculptures and paintings, mostly of the animal kind, dressed to impress. Her peculiar sense of humor and theatrical sensibilities are apparent in all her work.
- Roses, Ribbons & Reticules – Ribbon purses and bags made to carry the objects of your choice, and ribbon rosettes to adorn your hair, home, or apparel. Each is handcrafted from the finest ribbons of London.
- Natalie’s Jewels – Inspired by the Queen’s Jewels, artist Natalie works with precious and semi-precious stones, natural pearls, precious metals, silk, and treasures to bring body adornment into your wardrobe.
- Salon Des Artists – Olivia and Marilyn handcraft crowns, tiaras, chokers, necklaces, earrings, and jewelry accessories. All pieces are one-of-a-kind and made from the highest quality materials.
- Time Traveler – Quality carpet bags, reticules, and Victorian collars. These carpet bags are a wonderful addition to any occasion, traveling for the weekend, or for walking the streets of London.
Tickets range from $18 – $45, are date-specific and must be purchased in advance, online only. Please see dickensfair.com for details on General Admission, Group Sales and other special discounts.
To ensure the comfort of all guests, there will be a limited number of tickets available for each day of the Fair. As with many other theatrical events, select-day tickets must be purchased for the actual day you wish to attend. After tickets sell out for any given day, there will be no more tickets available for that day, so purchase early to ensure you are able to attend on the day(s) you prefer. Although all tickets are non-refundable, they are fully transferable to another day (if available) or to another person.
The Great Dickens Christmas Fair was originally conceived and created by Ron and Phyllis Patterson in 1970, inspired by their successful Renaissance Pleasure Faire (the first Renaissance Faire in America) which they brought to the San Francisco Bay Area during the Summer of Love in 1967. Their son Kevin Patterson along with his wife Leslie Patterson has been at the helm since 2000. This year, eldest son Drew Patterson takes over as General Manager to continue a 60-year family tradition of presenting deeply immersive, fully inclusive, and historically authentic environmental theater.
Red Barn Productions and The Great Dickens Christmas Fair are committed to Social Justice. For information on their diversity, equity, and inclusion plans, and ongoing social justice efforts, please visit the Red Barn Productions Community Page.
Land Acknowledgement: As Red Barn Productions welcomes participants and audience members to The Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace in Daly City, we wish to acknowledge that this property sits on the unceded homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone people and is the ancestral territory of the Miwok, Yokuts, and Patwin, as well as other Ohlone peoples. It is Red Barn’s intention that in gathering to create an immersive, entertaining, and educational fair, all who gather here are doing so with respect and recognition of Indigenous people and First Nation members and elders, and of all the Native peoples for whom the greater Bay Area is their ancestral home.
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CALENDAR EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE:
WHAT: The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party
A one-of-a-kind immersive adventure into Victorian London – an elaborate holiday party with hundreds of costumed players performing and interacting with patrons in over four acres of theatrically-lit music halls, pubs, dance floors, and festive shops. It’s a twilight evening in Charles Dickens’ London Town – a city of winding lanes filled with colorful characters from both literature and history. Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air. Cries of street vendors hawking their wares ring out above the bustling crowd. Dozens of lamplit shops are filled to overflowing with handmade gifts. The Dickens Christmas Fair is a treasured Bay Area tradition since 1970 and a splendid way to celebrate the holidays.
WHEN: Opens Saturday, November 18 and runs Saturdays and Sundays (plus the Friday after Thanksgiving) through December 17, 2023, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
WHERE: The Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, CA
TICKETS & INFORMATION:
General Admission prices:
- General Adult (13+ yrs.): $45.00
- General Youth (ages 5-12): $25.00
- Children under 5: Free
- Fair Season Pass: $160.00 (a $495.00 value!)
Active Military: 1st & 2nd Weekends Free Admission: Active Military personnel along with three (3) family members will receive FREE Admission for the first two weekends, November 18, 19, 24, 25, and 26. (Available at Will Call only. Photo I.D. required.)
Twilight Special (entry after 3:00 pm): A great excuse to visit for a second time for a date night, dinner, or a show!
- Twilight Adult Admission (13+): $30.00
- Twilight Youth Admission (13+): $18.00
Group Tickets: For groups of 20 or more, contact Kathy Alvarez Kingman at [email protected].
On-Site Parking: $15/car, $30/RV or bus (cash or credit, charged by the Cow Palace)
“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
~ Edgar Allen Poe, Eleanora