The Expanded Dickens Christmas Fair Preview

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THE COW PALACE ROLLS OUT THE RED AND GREEN CARPET FOR AN EXPANDED GREAT DICKENS CHRISTMAS FAIR FEATURING A NEW INDOOR SKATING RINK AND CHRISTMAS TREE SALES.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (November 02, 2022) After a two-year hiatus, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party returns to the historic Cow Palace (2600 Geneva Ave.) on Saturdays and Sundays (as well as the Friday after Thanksgiving) from November 19 through December 18, 2022. The 38th edition of this one-of-a-kind event has expanded to include a whole new 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall adjacent to the Cow Palace main arena. This pre-show area – known as “Vauxhall Gardens” – is free to the public (with $15 parking) and will feature a 2800 sq. ft. skating rink. Also new is a forest of fresh-cut Christmas Trees offered for sale by the nonprofit Delancey Street Foundation. Guests can round out their holiday excursion to the Dickens Fair by purchasing their Christmas Tree to take home and adorn. Those with tickets to the Fair may continue to the lower exhibit halls to immerse themselves in the new wonders and delightful traditions of Dickensian London.

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 cinnamon 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, and increased ventilation. “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.

THEATRICAL ENTERTAINMENTS

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. An all-new 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.

New this year: The Sherlock Holmes Experience – An interactive quest throughout the streets of the Dickens Christmas Fair challenging guests to use cartography, clues, and keen observation. 

Sherlock Holmes needs your help! Once inside the Dickensian world of Victorian London, visitors can make their way to 221B Baker Street, found along Nickelby Road, to meet the eccentric detective Holmes or his loyal companion Dr. Watson and learn about the latest mystery. As fledgling detectives, guests will be given a map to follow clues through the streets of London, solve perplexing puzzles, and unravel malevolent misdeeds in a world of international intrigue and try to stop the nefarious villains before they strike and change the course of history.Visitors will return to 221B and decode the evidence to learn how the story ends; then check the results and find their place amongst the ranks at Scotland Yard. 

AMUSEMENTS AND ACTIVITIES

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. 

Brand new to the Fair is Vauxhall Gardens, a skating rink (with rental skates) and Christmas tree lot with refreshments available. Enjoy a day at the Dickens Fair and return home with a tree for your parlour! Because the new Vauxhall Gardens is located outside the gated area of the Fair, guests may enter with family or friends any Fair day to enjoy a hot spiced cider, take a twirl on the skating rink, and support Delancey Street with the purchase of a Christmas Tree. Vauxhall Gardens is open to the public every Fair day (no admission ticket required). The Cow Palace charges $15 for parking. Hours are 10 AM to 6 PM Saturdays, Sundays, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 19 through December 18, 2022.

GOURMET FOOD AND DRINK

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. New this year are delectable Scotch Eggs, and 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. 

HOLIDAY MARKET

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 making their Dickens Fair debut this season:

TICKETING AND OTHER PERTINENT INFORMATION

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.

Covid Safety Measures: To improve the safety of Fair patrons and participants, the event organizers have put in place numerous Covid safety measures: daily attendance will be capped and controlled via advance, online ticket purchasing only; ventilation has been significantly increased with large industrial fans; and the event layout has been modified to allow for doorways throughout the event buildings to be left open. Masks are recommended for those who are sensitive, immune-compromised, or unvaccinated and hand sanitizers are available throughout the venue. For further details on this year’s enhancements, please visit the COVID-19 Information section on the Dickens Fair’s FAQ page.

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, they 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.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

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 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 19 and runs Saturdays and Sundays (plus the Friday after Thanksgiving) through December 18, 2022, from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

WHERE: The Cow Palace Exhibition Halls, 2600 Geneva Avenue, Daly City, CA

TICKETS & INFORMATION:  www.dickensfair.com

With all that is new I highly recommend planning both days of a weekend at this years Dickens Fair. It will be well worth it, Happy Christmas and be sure to watch for my Review article , with new photos from this years opening weekend.

General Admission prices:

  • Adult (13+ yrs.): $45.00
  • Youth (ages 5-12): $25.00
  • Children under 5: Free
  • Fair Season Pass: $160.00 (a $495.00 value!)

Special Discounts available on website for military, twilight admission, groups.

On-Site Parking: $15/car, $30/RV or bus (cash or credit, charged by the Cow Palace)

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*All Photos cGregAutry_ARR , Dickens Fair 2017 and 2018

About Greg Autry 40 Articles
Greg is a Photographer and Writer specializing in Fashion, Art, and Editorials. He covers Luxury Brands for Splash Magazine including: Fashion Shows, Fine Art, Charities, Stage Performance, Travel, and all manner of Events. Promoters and Producers ask for Greg specifically and repeatedly because his Articles and Photography are the highest of quality and are often picked up in National Media. Greg is also available Freelance for assignment. Writer - Magazine Articles and upcoming Bio-Novel about artist Julian Ritter. Photographer - Commercial Fashion and Editorial Photography. Artist - Oil Painter

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