This week’s Dance First Insight is from The Great Dickens Fair!


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – (October 26, 2022) After a two-year hiatus, The Great Dickens Christmas Fair & Victorian Holiday Party returns to the historic Cow Palace (2600 Geneva Ave.) on Saturdays and Sundays (as well as the Friday after Thanksgiving) from November 19 through December 18, 2022. The 38th edition of this one-of-a-kind event has expanded to include a whole new 50,000-square-foot exhibit hall adjacent to the Cow Palace main arena. This pre-show area – known as “Vauxhall Gardens” – is free to the public (with $15 parking) and will feature a 2800 sq. ft. skating rink made of synthetic ice where unlimited skate time (including rental) is $12 and $6 for children ages 3-8. Also new is a forest of fresh-cut Christmas Trees offered for sale by the nonprofit Delancey Street Foundation. Guests can round out their holiday excursion to the Dickens Fair by purchasing their Christmas Tree to take home and adorn. Those with tickets to the Fair may continue to the lower exhibit halls to immerse themselves in the new wonders and delightful traditions of Dickensian London.

Now encompassing over four acres, this year’s Dickens Christmas Fair is filled to overflowing with holiday-themed shops, pubs, stages, and dance halls. Guests are greeted by the sweet aroma of roasted cinnamon sugar almonds and swept into the fun by hundreds of colorful characters and the mirthful greetings of shopkeepers, street merchants, and fellow holiday merrymakers.

To increase audience comfort, attendance is limited via online-only ticket sales, date-specific ticketing, and increased ventilation. “We are grateful for the opportunity to bring back this beloved holiday tradition,” says the Fair’s new general manager, Drew Patterson. “We will continue to do everything we can to make this much-loved event a safe, enjoyable, and accessible experience for all our guests and participants.”

The winding lanes of this ever-expanding world of Victorian holiday delights will include many new wonders for its return to full indoor production after the long two-and-a-half years of the pandemic. Experience the deeply immersive theater created by hundreds of skilled and engaging performers as you discover handmade treasures for your holiday gift giving or sit down to a pint of draft English Ale or a feast of hearty handmade foods.

Throughout the streets and stages, new theatrical works as well as traditional favorites will delight and entertain fairgoers young and old.  Step into the Christmas Eve Past of Ebenezer Scrooge’s youth at Fezziwig’s Christmas Party for games, music, and unhosted sets of dancing throughout the day. Join Sherlock Holmes as he gathers clues to solve a mystery, or Oliver Twist for pick-pocketing school in Fagin’s Den. An all-new traditional Christmas pantomime The Tale of Puss In Boots will delight the younger set, while Jim Chiminey returns with a comedic tale that unfolds based on the audiences’ answers. And, of course, the Victorian lanes and shops will be filled with an ensemble of characters found in Charles Dickens’ works, along with the illustrious author himself hosting readings from his ‘new’ story A Christmas Carol.

New this year: The Sherlock Holmes Experience – An interactive quest throughout the streets of the Dickens Christmas Fair challenging guests to use cartography, clues, and keen observation. 

Sherlock Holmes needs your help! Once inside the Dickensian world of Victorian London, visitors can make their way to 221B Baker Street, found along Nickelby Road, to meet the eccentric detective Holmes or his loyal companion Dr. Watson and learn about the latest mystery. As fledgling detectives, guests will be given a map to follow clues through the streets of London, solve perplexing puzzles, and unravel malevolent misdeeds in a world of international intrigue and try to stop the nefarious villains before they strike and change the course of history. Visitors will return to 221B and decode the evidence to learn how the story ends; then check the results and find their place amongst the ranks at Scotland Yard.

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. Back this year are Mr. Punch and his mischievous friends in the Punch & Judy puppet show, as well as The Bold Tailor, a Grimm’s Fairy Tale brought to life with young actors from the audience. For more hands-on fun, try the Dart Parlour, fencing lessons, or the hand-powered Adventure Carousel. Or build your own Fairy House to take home for the holidays.

Brand new to the Fair is Vauxhall Gardens, a skating rink (with rental skates) and Christmas tree lot with refreshments available. Enjoy a day at the Dickens Fair and return home with a tree for your parlour! Because the new Vauxhall Gardens is located outside the gated area of the Fair, guests may enter with family or friends any Fair day to enjoy a hot spiced cider, take a twirl on the skating rink, and support Delancey Street with the purchase of a Christmas Tree. Vauxhall Gardens is open to the public every Fair day (no admission ticket required). The Cow Palace charges $15 for parking. Hours are 10 AM to 6 PM Saturdays, Sundays, and the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 19 through December 18, 2022.

Buy Tickets Here!