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December 02, 2023 edited with new Photos

I am honored to be asked back, to cover a great San Francisco tradition, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair and Victorian Holiday Party, and thrilled that so many of my followers have learned of this fabulous Holiday Event here in Splash Magazine. Today I am editing the original article to include photos from this years Fair. This article will include photos from last year at The Dickens Fair. With only two weekends left I urge everyone to head to the Dickens, do a little Christmas shopping, eat some fine vittles, and enjoy the Happy Christmas season upon us. Ticket info and discounts down below***.

For five weekends only, the historic Cow Palace in Daly City [just South of San Francisco, very near San Francisco International Airport for those flying in!] is transformed into the streets and stages of Charles Dickens’ Victorian London. On Saturdays and Sundays, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, from November 18 through December 17, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party will take visitors on an immersive adventure through four acres of Victorian theaters, pubs, and dance halls, encountering hundreds of costumed characters along the way.

Meet Father Christmas, Mad Sal and her jolly gals, Mr. Charles Dickens himself, and his Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Lamplit shops filled with handmade gifts line the streets, and the enticing aromas of roasted cinnamon almonds and hearty foods fill the air. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a time traveler’s delight and a one-of-a-kind way to celebrate the holidays!

Visitors will first step inside the Cow Palace South Hall, where they will be transported into the hustle and bustle of London’s Victoria Station. Conductors greet visitors over the sounds of whistles and the steam of imagined trains as they make their way through the station and down the hill into the Historic Exhibition Halls miraculously transformed into Victorian London. Once again, the nonprofit Delancey Street Foundation will sell fresh-cut Christmas trees for guests to take home and adorn.

This season, visitors can enrich their Victorian holiday with curated tours, dramatic encounters, and new mysteries to solve. Guests can book a complimentary guided tour, join a delicious Port and Chocolate Tasting, sit for High Tea, or embark on a new adventure –  the Jekyll and Hyde Pub Crawl. Back by popular demand, the Sherlock Holmes Experience presents a perplexing new puzzle while young ones may enjoy the self-guided Children’s Tour of London and meeting Father Christmas each day at 1 and 4 p.m.

Guests can also catch a traditional English Pantomime, Irish singers, Bedouin belly dancers, clever comedies, and astounding juggling at one of seven stages offering entertainments. From the Upperside Victoria & Albert Bijou Music Hall and lively Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig’s Dance Party, where visitors can join in the fun, to the raucous, somewhat naughty entertainments of Mad Sal’s Dockside Ale House, there is always something for all tastes and ages. 

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 at the Tinsley Green Children’s Area and Father Christmas Stage. Youngsters can meet Father Christmas, ride on the hand-powered Adventure Carousel, lend a face to the tintamarresque of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatters Tea Party, laugh at the antics of an authentic British Punch & Judy puppet show, and even catch a death-defying Sword-Swallowing act!

The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a cornucopia of handcrafted, freshly made foods– there is ever so much to eat and drink! Guests can feast on traditional savories like fish ‘n chips, bangers and mash, meat pies, or sweets like homemade cookies, artesian chocolates, and teacakes. This year marks the debut of Jack and the Beansteak vegetarian foods and Slice of Heaven calzones and flatbreads. To accompany these and over a hundred other delectable foods, six traditional pubs offer craft beers from local Anderson Valley Brewing Company along with fine wines, champagne, hot buttered rum, Irish coffee, hot toddy, and mulled wine. Or sit for proper English high tea complete with scones and finger sandwiches.  

 With over 100 beautiful shops and carts, there is no shortage of thoughtful and unique shopping inspiration. Whether searching for the perfect holiday present for friends and loved ones – or a personal Christmas treat or two – guests will find the quaint shops and bustling emporiums filled with fine crafts, fanciful clothing and accessories, ceramics, elegant drinkware, stunning jewelry, toys, ornaments, and antiquarian books. In between shopping be sure to stop by Mrs. Pipers Photo Parlour and get your family photo taken. One of truly exception Photo Ops for families that I’ve ever seen.

Upon entry to the Fair or at the Patterson and Sons Shop just inside the front gate, guests are invited to pick up a complimentary copy of the official Dickens Fair Program – The Illustrated London Chimes – an informative newspaper complete with show schedules, maps, menus, shopping ideas, and other helpful information.

A note of affection, the Patterson family are the originators of the Great Christmas Dickens Fair, along with the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Southern California. The history of authenticity and attention to detail that so prevailed at the Original Renaissance Pleasure Fair is carried on today, at The Great Christmas Dickens Fair.


Tickets range from $18 to $45Early Bird pricing is available through Sunday, October. 15. The port tasting and pub crawl require reservations and additional tickets. Early purchase and date selection is recommended as attendance is limited each day. Tickets may only be purchased online and in advance at 

A special note about the FRENCH POSTCARD REVIEW. Here’s the answer I received when I asked if it is back this year: “We are delighted that you are a fan of the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, and specifically it’s saucier offerings. The French Postcard Review is one of our favorites too. We are happy to say that it will be back next season. Quality is worth waiting for, and we have an exciting new show in development that will be premiered in 2024…

I say HuZZah and agree that quality is worth waiting for; “The provocative and prolific wonders of Mad Sal’s Ale House on the other hand, are back with renewed vigor. We hope to see you there – and enjoying the streets, pubs, foods, and finery of the Fair!”

WHAT:  The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party

This holiday season, book a trip to Victorian London in San Francisco. Travel to the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, an immersive adventure with hundreds of colorful characters from literature and history. Meet Father Christmas, Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. & Mrs. Fezziwig, or the Ghost of Christmas Present throughout four acres of Victorian theaters, pubs, and dance halls. Enticing aromas of roasted chestnuts and hearty foods fill the air. Dozens of lamplit shops are filled to overflowing with handmade gifts. The Great Dickens Christmas Fair is a time traveler’s delight and a one-of-a-kind way to celebrate the holidays.

WHEN:  Opens Saturday, November 18, and runs Saturdays and Sundays (plus the Friday after Thanksgiving) through December 17, 2023, from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

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


Early Bird pricing for the first two weekends is available through Sunday, October 15, or while supplies last: 

  • General Adult (13+ yrs.) “Early Bird” discount price: $35.00 ($10.00 off)

Valid Nov. 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

  • General Youth (5-12 yrs.) “Early Bird” discount price: $20.00 ($5.00 off)

Valid Nov. 18, 19, 24, 25, 26

  • Children under 5 are free.

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!)

Parking: If you will be driving to the event, I believe the Cow Palace charges $ 15.00 for Parking.

Special Discounts:

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 only):

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 gr********@di*********.com.

Photos by Greg Autry, c2022 All Rights Reserved.   Come Back each week to check out newly updated photos from the 2023 Season of The Great Christmas Dickens Fair. 

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About Greg Autry 52 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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