Truly, it was one of the best of times.
At the beginning of the season, in the middle of San Francisco, we traveled to Victorian London. And it was all charming til the end.
This was at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair, held annually for 5 weekends starting from the weekend before Thanksgiving to the weekend before Christmas. I don't know why it took me this long to actually check it out! Now, after our visit, I could see ourselves making this a Christmas tradition!
It truly was like stepping into the pages of Charles Dickens novels. Immediately, it was a feast for the senses as you're greeted with ladies in colorful dresses with bouncing curls (among other things that are bouncing 😂), music and dancing from the ballroom, a welcoming champagne bar, and well, even Krampus was there to say hi, or give you a whipping if you like!
When at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I marveled at the details of the setting, and at Comicon one can dress up to play their favorite superhero while checking out the latest sci-fi loot they can get their hands on, this to me was a combo of that, sans the comics and a lot more English accent. You step into a different world and become one of the characters from an era long gone but immortalized by the genius of great storytellers.
As we took a stroll down the Grand Concourse, and allowed ourselves to be part of a story, we met a detective helping out a lady find her mother's dog, a widow who scared the crap out of my husband as she asked for directions to the graveyard (I tried to comfort her by giving her a hug 🤗), a drunkard passed out by the docks, a wench trying to make her living, a lady smitten after getting a kiss on the cheek from the prince of Wales, boys yelling out names they have telegrams and roses for, and even Ebenezer Scrooge post the scrooge.
There were hat shops, jewel shops, shops for Victorian fashion, and even a place to get your hair braided - quite pricey stuff though. There were ale houses, tea shops, places to get your pub grub or something a bit finer. There were living rooms to enjoy listening to Christmas carols and Charles Dickens himself doing a reading. I was even able to take part in some dancing at the Golden Square, which, I must say, was quite the cardio workout! But really what made this quite the experience were the vignettes of conversations among performers and patrons alike in 19th century garb, accent and all, that transport you as deep as you allow your own imagination to go.
My appreciation for creativity was most certainly heightened here, and it truly got me in the Christmas mode. I found the twilight ticket (only $18 starting at 3:00PM until 7:00PM) sufficient to go through all the streets of London, have a drink at the absinthe bar, savor some oysters and chips, dance a bit, and witness some performances. Plus it was not crowded at all on a Sunday evening. The part that I probably missed from just getting a twilight ticket was getting a table for afternoon tea, which I would've liked, I'm sure.
I'd highly recommend checking this out for everyone who loves the classic novels, anglophiles, or even if you're just in the Bay Area during the Christmas season! And, to make it really fun, commit and enjoy the festivities in your Victorian costume!
Check out the video below for our amazing day at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair!
Bianca is one of the founders of get there | get lost. She is an avid writer and photographer based in Northern California. Her love for history, literature, architecture and food culminate to her passion for traveling and learning about different cultures. She advocates for accessible travel, and continues to explore with her husband and travel partner, Jesús, despite physical limitations. Follow their adventures on Instagram as @gettheregetlost and @coffeeandtherapy.