Charles Dickens Christmas Fair only happens in San Francisco around last week of November till December 18th. The fair includes 3 acres of land transformed into streets of London in Victorian era, over 700 staff members in Victorian costumes (Yes you have Mr. Dickens himself and his family too), 6 stages for music, acting, singing, dancing, and magic performances.
Today I woke up an hour early before the fair started and lazily put on my feathered hair piece, my dark brown poncho, and my dress. Before I put on my sneakers, I paused, “last time I checked they did not have Adidas sneaker while Mr. Dickens was still alive.”
When I arrived at the place, my eyes could not stop looking at everything! Almost everyone, even the guests, were in Victorian costume (I was glad I dressed somewhat close enough to blend in). I had ladies greeting me “Happy Christmas,” with one or two gentleman bow at my presence as I walked by. I keep looking front, back, left, right, at all the shops, the people, food in people’s hands, everything!!!
I roamed around the streets of London for a couple minutes just to see what kind of shops they have. I stopped by a candle shop to watch the lady dipping the candle into colored waxed, then dry the candle, let it cool for some time before carving them with decorations. The lady, with British accent, told me I can also custom order the candles in colors and decoration styles I want. However, there was no need to special order one, my eyes were glued to that red candle in the photo without blinking.
As I was walking by just scheming through everything before settling for my next destination in the fair, I walked passed by Dicken’s Family living/dinning room quarter, and saw ladies serving tea sandwiches and other finger snacks inside. I was jealous. Able to attend Dicken’s Family dinning affair is really rare (You have to sign up really early for it). Next to the dinning room another window shows the cooks in the kitchen hustling around trying to prepare the next course. My stomach started growling as I smelled the food passing through the window.
Even if you are not invited to Dicken’s Family for their special dinning affair, don’t be disappointed. You will find lots of mouth watering delicacies like bangers and mash, Shepard’s & Cottage Pie, turkey plate, bread pudding, rum cake, and more. I did my routine or ordering a Cottage Pie and a steak & potato pie, bread pudding, rum cake, and onion soup. Cottage Pie is my all time favorite because somehow you do not need a fork to eat their pie. The pie crust was soft with a thin layer of crispiness on the top, no holes, size as big as hand palm, and you can just pick it up and eat it with your hands. The pie is filled with large chunks of soft, richly stewed pieces of steak that melts in your mouth instantly.
At the fair, not only there are plenty of shops that sell arts and crafts related to Christmas or Victorian era theme, but also many offer hands on activities for children and adults. I for one love art crafts, and signed myself up for a session to make a fairy’s house (please excuse me for my somewhat undeveloped artistic ability).
Other activities included fencing lessons, ceramic painting, drawing lessons at general’s house, and games like dart shooting.
No Christmas can be complete without Egg Nogg and Apple Cider. After I finished my artwork I quickly headed for the bars area for a drink. At the bars you will see many pretty bar maids in exquisite, colorful dressing serving drinks, having a chat with the guests, and even some singing and dancing. You might also see some people sitting outside the bar area with red face and playing a game or two with dices.
1. I recommend going to the event early. On Fridays -Sunday (now till December 18th), they open at 11am at Cow Palace in San Francisco. If you drive, plan to arrive around 10:40am to get a parking spot (parking is another $10 dollars). 2. I also advise getting tickets ahead at their website, so you can avoid the lines of people trying to buy ticket right there. 3. Last but not least, if you love food and plan to try lots of different food there at once, bring a food container in your bag. That way if you do not finish some food, you can save them in your container for later since they do not provide take-out boxes (trust me there are food at the fair you will not want to waste, because they are sooo good).
Dressing up in Victorian era costume is really optional. Knowing or familiarizing with a little bit of Victorian English would not hurt, because all the staff will be speaking in that style.This is a great event for family, all minds are welcome.
Charles Dickens Christmas Fair Website: http://www.dickensfair.com/
Happy Holiday Season!