Chimney Sweep

The Dickens of a Christmas Honest returns to SF Bay Space

The Mercury News

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Revelers will find entertainment from vaudeville dancers to opera singers at the Bay Area's annual Great Dickens Christmas Fair, which begins this weekend. (MarkEYE photo)

Humbug, you say?

Not at Great Dickens Christmas Market. Held every year since 1970, this festival is a surefire cure for the holiday blues.

On the weekends of November 17 through December 23 (plus the Friday after Thanksgiving), the Cow Palace in Daly City is transformed into Charles Dickens' London with music halls, parades, pubs, shops and 800 costumed characters. They meet the royal family, chimney sweeps, newsboys, the Cratchit family and even Mr. Dickens, who gives several readings every day.

Children can giggle at puppet shows (Punch & Judy is a British classic), watch a toy parade, learn to be a chimney sweep and meet Santa Claus. You can also make gifts to give as gifts: rolled beeswax candles and hand-painted ornaments.

Adults can see Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera “Trial by Jury” (back after a successful run last year), sing sea shanties and watch can-can dancers at Mad Sal's Dockside Ale House.

If you're feeling hungry, here you'll find the foods the British Empire is known for (roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, fish and chips, meat pies, bangers, tea sandwiches, scones) as well as pan-European dishes (Italian, Greek). . Just don't let the queen see you with that spanakopita.

Details: To avoid sell-out days, purchasing tickets in advance is recommended: Opening hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; $14-$30, with lower prices for twilight (after 3 p.m.); Cow Palace charges $12 for parking, but the fair offers a free shuttle from the Glen Park BART station. 2600 Geneva Ave., Daly City.

For more information, visit The Mercury News

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