For five weeks every year the San Francisco Cow Palace is transformed into the streets of Victorian London. There are hundreds of costumed characters wandering around and the visitors often dress up too.
How often is it socially encouraged to dress as Victorian?!
I did not have a chance to get to a costume rental store, and Victorian outfits are very expensive off the rack. I used this post for inspiration and put together this here costume with things I had around the house!
I used the petticoat and underthings from my wedding dress (finally got another use out of those!) with my longest/fullest skirt over the petticoat. I had a shirt that had some nice lace detail on the back so I wore that backwards. Add the belt to pull it together, and voila!
I also put my hair up in a sock bun because I chose sewing over curling my hair during nap time.
I feel like achieving the Victorian silhouette is a lot easier for men than for women. Here is Matt, looking very dapper, with a tweed jacket, bow tie, and scarf.
He eventually added a baby in an Ergo.
We did not really dress up the kids. We had already put them through the photo session for the parish directory/Christmas cards that morning. I have a one dress up event a day policy with littles - it's a better deal for all of us.
While it's not, explicitly, a children's event, the Dicken's Fair was amazing for little kids! All of the people watching, dancing performances, shops to look at, plays, food, games.
John liked the carousel they have which are all safari animals instead of horses. I loved how the man running the carousel was in character yet calling out information about how the Victorians cared for exotic animals.
Things like the elephants were very prone to colds in the English climate, so the Victorians would give them a substantial amount of wine every day "to keep the trunks clear". Victorian elephants had shortened, and very drunken, lives.
My favorite part of the fair was the Ceili!
One of our local pubs has a ceili every Monday night, so I had learned some of the dances beforehand.
John did not want to dance with me while the musicians were there or if anyone else was watching, but he must have been watching the dance very closely. When he finally danced with me during a break in the dancing, he started imitating the footwork and calling the steps.
We might have a little dancer on our hands!
We could easily have spent many more hours, and there are so many more things to see and do! The fair will be running every weekend through December 20th. If you are in the San Francisco bay area, it is well worth the side trip!