Photo Gallery: A Walk Through The Great Dickensian Christmas Fair


Don’t let COVID-19 rob you of the holiday cheer! The Great Dickensian Christmas Fair at Cow Palace in Daly City is an annual month-long tradition that will magically transport you to London in the days of Charles Dickens. Mingle with 19th century Londoners dressed in traditional Victorian attire while welcoming you with an authentic Cockney accent. Stroll the hay-filled aisles filled with Dickensian characters like Bob Crachit, Jacob Marley, and Tiny Tim, while feasting on Christmas pudding.

Due to the pandemic, organizers have changed this year’s event so that visitors can enjoy 19th-century London from the pandemic comfort of their car (or “car,” according to the event brochure).

Along the way, Victorian figures in cars added whimsical fun to the traffic behind the wheel. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)
A woman dressed in 19th century British clothing walks in the foreground as a British flag, horse drawn carriage and Christmas trees line the background.
TThe spirit of Christmas permeates the driveway with Christmas trees and gifts lining the course. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

Nonetheless, this driving adventure is sure to ignite the Christmas spirit in everyone. Even Ebenezer Scrooge could smile. As I entered the Cow Palace parking lot, I was greeted by a large “Welcome to Dickens’ London” banner and a plethora of English flags.

A sign reads
The welcome banner and Union Jacks mark the entrance to 19th century London. (Photo> CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

After a quick stop to place your food order – highly recommend the fish and chips, Christmas pudding, and hot chocolate – I walked down a ramp and entered the docks at Mad Sal.

A downhill road is lined with British flags.
Cars drive down the carriageway for Dickensian entertainment. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)
A group of musicians dressed in 19th century British clothing perform on a stage.
Musicians from Mad Sal’s Dock Yards perform for a crowded car crowd at Drive Thru Dickens’ London Fair. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

It was at Mad Sal that I found myself face to face with a group of hardworking chimney sweeps, covered in soot after a long day of work.

A man dressed as a chimney sweep leans close to the camera.
A chimney sweep, Devin Gregory, tells funny stories to passing drivers. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

They kindly remind you to tune your radio to 89.1 FM to listen to holiday music in English while you take in the views. Chimney sweep gang member Devin Gregory expressed his enthusiasm for the event.

“It’s the best Christmas party,” said Gregory. “I’m here with my friends. This is what Christmas is meant to be.

A man dressed as the Dickens' Ghost of Jacob Marley walks through a scene designed to resemble the home of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Drivers are frightened by the haunting ghost of Jacob Marley walking through Scrooge’s house. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)
A man disguised as a Dickensian Christmas ghost stands next to a large painting of a book.  The text of the book says:
The cheerful ghost of the Christmas gift from “A Christmas Carol” encourages drivers to view one of the Dickensian Fair painting scenes. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

As my chariot propels itself towards the last living tableaux, Scrooge shakes hands with Bob Crachit before proclaiming “I’ll double your salary.”

On stage, a man dressed as Dickensian Bob Cratchit shakes hands with another man dressed as Ebenezer Scrooge.
Disbelieving Bob Cratchit shakes Scrooge’s hand after receiving a raise. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

Later, Scrooge’s third spirit reminded me that my tomorrow is never defined by my past. Perhaps this is what inspired the organizers to make such bold changes at this year’s fair. Food chain worker Kirsten Upchurch echoed this view. “The modified program has been a wonderful learning experience for us,” she said.

On a stage designed to be a graveyard, a man disguised as Ebenezer Scrooge gazes at gravestones while a hooded figure watches.
Scrooge contemplates life on his gravestone. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

After reveling in a few more fascinating scenes of London, my trip ended at the stage in the Convent Garden where a chimney sweep playfully transformed car horns into music. The traveling companions devoured their hearty London dinners in an open-air environment.

A group of people dressed in 19th century English clothing perform on stage.
At Pennygaff’s Stage, cheerful music elevates the holiday spirit. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)
Two trucks are seated under a sign that reads: "The Great Hall."
Cars line up for the next Dickensian stage delight. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)
Cars are parked in front of a stage that displays part of a sign indicating "Covent Garden Theater."
At the Covent Garden Theater, cars line up like a drive-in to watch the festivities and clap with horns. (Photo: CAROLYN CONSIDINE / The Stanford Daily)

So if you want to immerse yourself in the holiday spirit, a visit to “Drive Through Dickens” might be the event for you. It is certainly not a “ba humbug” event. Tickets went quickly, so save the date for a holiday tradition next year. This event is truly a COVID-friendly Christmas miracle.


About Author

Comments are closed.