The historic Cow Palace will once again be transformed into Dickens’ London for The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party. Now in its 36th season, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair will run Saturdays and Sundays (as well as the Friday after Thanksgiving) from November 17 through December 23, 2018, offering visitors a delightfully immersive holiday experience without rival.
An annual tradition for Bay Area natives and visitors alike, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is an enchanting journey through a merrier era – the streets of Victorian London circa Christmas 1860. Visitors will explore twilight-lit streets with shops, pubs, stages and dance halls filled with more than 800 Victorian characters and the aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty fare.
“There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.” ~ Charles Dickens
Visitors can choose from seven stages offering entertainment for all ages and tastes. Family-friendly entertainment abounds, from dancing at Fezziwig’s, to dashing sword-fighting in “All’s Well That Ends Badly” and the holiday pantomime “The Surprising Tale of Baron Munchausen and Mopsa the Fairy.” If your tastes lean more towards the naughty and salty, head down to the dockside and join the Cancan dancers and sailors at the bawdy Mad Sal’s Music Hall.
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 in the Tinsley Green Children’s Area. Young audience members will cheer the hero and jeer the villain at the children’s melodrama, join Alice at the Mad Hatters’ Tea Party, or learn the tricks of the chimney-sweep trade from the Miracle Sweeps of London School. A delightful addition to the usual holiday entertainments, youngsters can meet Old Father Christmas each day at one o’clock on the Father Christmas Stage, ride on a hand-powered Adventure Carousel, cheer the Toy Parade, and laugh at the antics of an authentic British Punch & Judy puppet show.
Guests will welcome the return of the Gilbert & Sullivan comic opera “Trial By Jury” in the Victoria & Albert Bijou Music Hall – one of the most successful one-act operettas of all time telling the story of ludicrous circumstances played out by characters who behave as if the events are perfectly normal. Be astounded by the world premiere of “Dr. Xander T. Culpepper’s Miracle Elixir Show Of Miracles,” but don’t expect to walk away with any of his miracle magical tonic; demand is simply too high! Also on the Pennygaff Stage, fresh from a year studying at the Royal Shakespeare Company, we welcome back the buffoonery of London’s most hilariously silly chimney sweep, Jim Chiminey!
Experience Mr. Dickens’ wonderful stories portrayed by hundreds of Living History characters throughout the streets. Encounter Mr. Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist, Nancy, and many more of Mr. Dickens’ characters. You might even see Queen Victoria herself as she and her court progress through London. Then join Mr Samuel Pickwick himself and his fellow "Pickwickians" as they tour London, spreading hilarity and mirth. Stop by the illustrious Adventurers’ Club, Dickens Family Parlour, Great Exhibition Stage, genius inventor Professor Flockmocker’s Workshop, and the internationally themed Silk Road Stage for exotic dance and special musical guest appearances.
Catch a song or two at the Paddy West School of Seamanship, then stroll down to Mad Sal’s Dockside Ale House where Mad Sal herself will be hosting bold new talents as well as bawdy favorites like the high-kicking dancers of the Le Cancan Bijou in the Mad Sal’s Dockside Music Hall. The gentlemen of Brass Farthing lift a frothy good ale with their rollicking songs and the ladies of The Gin Alley Sallys musically include you in their ‘Society for the Appreciation of Libation and Spirits.’ Later in the day, the extremely popular and outrageous “Saucy French Postcards Tableaux Revue” returns to delight adults over 18 with “Gods & Heroes,” a new episode in the private lives of Horatio and Letitia Everard.
“…Merry voices and light-hearted laughter range through the room…” ~ Charles Dickens