Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Great  Dickens Christmas Fair director Kevin Patterson, right, greet guests on the first weekend of the holiday attraction at the Cow Palace. (Leslie Katz/S.F. Examiner)

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and Great Dickens Christmas Fair director Kevin Patterson, right, greet guests on the first weekend of the holiday attraction at the Cow Palace. (Leslie Katz/S.F. Examiner)

Victorian Christmas in full swing at Dickens fair at the Cow Palace

Charles Dickens, greeting guests in his home at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair in its first weekend at the Cow Palace in Daly City, wouldn’t name which of his books is favorite.

“That would be like asking a mother about her children, but I’m told by readers that they like ‘A Christmas Carol,’” said the literary great, whose Victorian world supplies the setting for the interactive living history theatrical attraction.

On Sunday, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert briefly stopped by Tavistock House, Dickens’ London residence, where tea (complete with cucumber sandwiches and mincemeat tarts) was being served. German-born Albert, admiring the Christmas tree, shared how he helped introduce to the holiday tradition to England.

Also on hand for tea service was Kevin Patterson, 21st century executive director of the Dickens’ fair, son of founders Ron and Phyllis Patterson, who also created the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.

“There’s nothing else like this anywhere,” said Patterson, who has continued the family business, producing the fair – a 20,000-square foot “city” with music halls, pubs, dance floors and shops selling clothing, jewelry, knives, glass and more — with his wife and children since 2000.

He said the fair’s ongoing success has much to do with its hundreds of enthusiastic, educated, experienced volunteers dedicated to re-creating the era with authenticity.

Mentioning that the fair, liking Burning Man, is something difficult to describe, and must be experienced to get its full effect, Patterson has this suggestion for first-time visitors: “Get lost in it – it’s as big as London.”

IF YOU GO
Great Dickens Christmas Fair
Where: Cow Palace, 2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday-Sundays (plus Friday Nov. 23); through Dec. 23
Tickets: $10 to $30; $12 parking
Contact: dickensfair.com
Theater

Just Posted

Pharmacist Hank Chen is known for providing personalized service at Charlie’s Pharmacy in the Fillmore.<ins> (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Left: A Walgreens at 300 Gough St. is among San Francisco stores closing.
Walgreens closures open the door for San Francisco’s neighborhood pharmacies

‘I think you’ll see more independents start to pop up’

San Franciscans are likely to have the opportunity to vote in four different elections in 2022. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Electionpalooza: SF school board recall will kick off a flurry of local races

‘It’s going to be a lot of elections and a lot of decisions for voters to make’

Four young politicos were elected to city government on the Peninsula in 2020. From left: Redwood City Councilmember Michael Smith; South San Francisco Councilmember James Coleman; Redwood City Councilmember Lissette Espinoza-Garnica; and East Palo Alto Councilmember Antonio Lopez.<ins> (Examiner illustration/Courtesy photos)</ins>
Progressive politicians rise to power on the Peninsula. Will redistricting reverse the trend?

‘There’s this wave of young people really trying to shake things up’

The fate of San Francisco nicotine giant Juul remains to be seen, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is reviewing whether to allow certain flavored vape products on the market. <ins>(Jeenah Moon/New York Times)</ins>
How the vape king of teen nicotine addiction rose and fell in San Francisco

‘Hey, Juul, don’t let the door hit you on the way out’

Most Read