The Great Dickens Christmas Fair

Today my wife treated us to a really fun time at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair at the Cow Palace. One of her co-workers is working at the fair and got us free passes.

When we stepped inside the exhibition halls, they were completely transformed into the streets of Charles Dickens’ London. It actually worked really well. We stepped inside the Victoria & Albert Theater and saw a magician as our first activity. Next, we broke from the “reality” of Happy Christmas and used the rather modern restrooms. Then we had high tea, consisting of pots of tasty black tea, scones with strawberry and lemon curd spread and a very tasty cream, finger sandwiches (salmon, cucumber, watercrest and egg) and a trifle dessert consisting of pound cake, pudding, cherry and whipped cream. We got our own tea pots to take home and were full for the rest of the day, which prevented us from partaking in the many fine food scents that kept wafting our way from the shoppes along the streets.

Following High Tea, we went to the Odyssey Theater and saw a theatrical presentation of The Three Musketeers. I expected a pared down version of the story but instead we got a full production. It was a good show but we couldn’t hear the actors very well. There was also a band playing on the Silk Road stage around the corner that we could hear quite loudly throughout the show. We got two shows for the price of none essentially and still enjoyed ourselves. My wife’s grandmother found the stage show a bit monotonous but I think a few gunshots or explosions would have held her attention a bit more than the swordplay.

We relaxed for a few minutes and saw a Celtic harpist at the Silk Road stage and then started bumping into Dickens’ characters. We ended up seeing the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come as well as Jacob Marley and many others in Victorian Era garb. My wife and her grandmother took a detour to the modern world again and I found myself a seat at the Paddy West School of Seamanship stage. I saw a Fiddling Tannenbaum (Christmas Tree) and during the show, a stumbling drunk peasant woman walking by.

The Paddy West show was also great fun and was interrupted by old Ebenezer Scrooge himself, who said he wouldn’t take their ship away if they’d let him sing a song. His song was one of the highlights of a really great day.

After the Paddy West show, we walked the streets for a bit and saw Charles Dickens himself at the Green Man Tea Room, where he was reading to a few tables of spellbound guests from one of his works called “A Christmas Carol”.

I tried on a bowler hat. My head is apparently a size medium for hats.

We said thank you to my wife’s co-worker who was working at the Leather Boot bar across from Fezziwig’s Dance Party. We watched a bit of the dancing and my wife got a chicken pie for herself and a Shepard’s pie for me. We got those to go as we were still full from our high tea four hours earlier.

There was a long line for the Naughty (18+) French Postcards show at the Victoria & Albert as we made our way out. I also heard rumors of a lynching to take place toward the close of the night. We didn’t stay for either of those, but it was nice to be able to be plunged into a place where everyone needs to use a bit more of their imagination. I always get a big smile on my face when I get the chance to be like a kid again.

The Dickens Fair runs weekends from the Friday after Thanksgiving until the weekend before Christmas at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California.

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