A tale of one fair

Attendees enter the world of Dickens.

A performer begins the Paddy West Nautical Music & Songs show at the Paddy West Stage at the London Docks, one of the 12 main performance stages.

Characters straight out of a Charles Dickens story, Christmas carols, slabs of meat and glasses of cider await those who enter a fanciful Victorian era London during an annual event taking place over the next few weeks.

Over 700 performers are interacting with visitors and performing in dance and theater shows taking place throughout the day at the Great Dickens Christmas Fair.

“It’s as though you are stepping through the wardrobe in Narnia, and it’s a completely different world in every way,” English Department Chair Rachael Denny, who attends the Dickens fair every year, said. “From the floor to the street to the people, it’s magical.”

The festival also features stalls with detailed sweets and fried fish as well as alleys of fortune telling and clothing shops.

“It’s a lovely way to remember Christmas, sort of like childhood memories,” Cat Taylor, Dickens Fair Entertainment Director, said. “Instead of going to a mall or a store or a party, you can enter a new world, with characters from Dickens’ novels that remind us all of the movies we saw as children but in real life.”

Fair attendees travel from all around the world to the Cow Palace in Daly City, where the festivities are held, according to Taylor.

“They have a dancing festival you can watch, and they ask you if you want to dance, which is always really fun,” junior Grace Lachman, who has attended the fair since she was a child, said.

Over 40 groups of actors and singers rehearsed for weeks prior to the opening, according to Taylor.

“You become this character from the inside out,” said Taylor. “You want to think like the character and react like the character.”

The fair is filled with families joining in the holiday festivities, according to Denny.

“My mom, my sister and I have gone to the Dickens Fair every year since I was six as a girls’ excursion,” Lachman said. “My mom would read us ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘A Christmas Carol’ and going to the fair brings the stories to life.”

The fair takes place at the three-acre venue filled with intricate artificial light highlighting the streets and shops giving it the feel as though it is always Christmas Eve.

“The idea of ‘A Christmas Carol’ happening throughout the day and watching Scrooge transform, while having eggnog or enjoying the town is really cool,” Denny said. “You are watching the Ghost of Christmas Past walk by you.”

The fair runs weekends through Dec. 20, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets are $30, ages 5-12 are $12.