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