A tribute to illustrator Edward Gorey the annual Edwardian ball is now in its 19th year

The annual Edwardian Ball gives attendees a taste of the whimsical, odd, and vintage. This California arts festival, in its 19th year, continues with its legacy of fine art, fashion, and performances in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Image credit: SF Funcheap

This February 9th, if you were to take a step into Los Angeles’ Fonda Theatre you would be transported. ‘To where?,” you may ask. Well, not exactly anywhere: the Annual Edwardian Ball is known to be a place that is unrecognizable, a picking and choosing of styles, entertainment, and costume, that combine to recreate the general vintage feeling of the ‘Edwardian Era,’ loosely inspired by the styles of fashion prominent during the rule of King Edward VII. It all makes a little more sense when you get to know the true inspiration behind the festival: illustrator Edward Gorey.

Who is Edward Gorey?

Gorey’s work is known world over, his illustrations gracing the covers of numerous picture books and even a mystery-themed TV show. He was famous for his distinct style of storytelling, which combined morbidity, sarcasm, irony, tongue-in-cheek humour, and childlike simplicity with poignant minimally coloured crosshatch drawings, a style that came to inspire many people with its unabashed originality.

Caption: A page from Edward Gorey’s popular book titled, “The Gashlycrumb Tinies” | Image sourced: nybooks.com


His books were written as if to be read to children but contained no flowery language as most childrens’ books do, and were instead replete with themes of the grimly macabre and odd. A lifelong artist, Gorey also forged a path in the set and costume design business, receiving many awards for the same.

A themed night of fun

Each year, the festival focuses on a Gorey story, if you will, and this year it features themes from his book titled “The Epipleptic Bicycle.”

An illustration from Gorey’s, “The Epipleptic Bicycle.” | Image source: researchgate.net

At its base, The Edwardian Ball is a celebration of art in all its forms. The ball’s attendees not only experience the expected ballroom dancing, but also get the chance to witness an array of creative live shows including musical acts, acrobatics to stage plays featuring big names and independent artists, including names like Vau de Vire, DJ Baz, Dark Garden, and Green Valley Theatre Puppeteers. A dazzling array of vendors displaying the oddest and most interesting brands, a museum housing the best of oddities and fine art, a bar featuring absinthe cocktails are some of the other attractions that audiences can look forward to.

Vendors offer whimsical selections of goods at the Edwardian Ball |Image source: SF Station

How can I get in?

This whimsical experience can cost anywhere from $60 to over $100, and there are even special multi-guest deals that reach $900. No matter the price, the ball almost always sells out, with visitors booking tickets months in advance. But the event is a 2 day or 6 hour long, multi-city affair, so there is no shortage of time to get a run for your money. The San Francisco portion of the event runs over two days and even includes a ‘World’s Faire’ event where visitors play old-timey parlor games, walk through steam-powered machines and witness all types of odd tricks.

Visitors enjoy live performances at the Edwardian Ball | Image source: Time Out

Though there is no required dress code, the ball’s attendees can be seen embracing steampunk and Vaudeville fashion, wearing Victorian corsets, britches, and all types of vintage and kitsch accessories.

The unique fashions of the Edwardian Ball | Image source: SF Station

The Edwardian Ball invites you to take a moment to “step out of your ordinary life” into one that embraces the odd, fantastical side of the late Gorey’s endless imagination.


San Francisco Jan 25-26, 2019

Los Angeles February 9, 2019

More information visit here

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