Steampunk Festival 2019


Over the Bank Holiday weekend last year (August 23-26) the world’s biggest Steampunk festival returned to Lincoln for the 11th time. Held along the cobbled streets of the Cathedral Quarter, in the grounds of Lincoln Castle and in parts of Bishop Grosseteste University, the festival celebrates the steam powered world of the late nineteenth century and attracts people from all over the world. A number of events keep visitors entertained over the three days.

This was our first visit to the festival and we didn’t realise what a fun event we’d been missing. In fact (being from the Stone Age ourselves) we weren’t entirely certain what steampunk was all about. So for anyone else similarly uncertain, here a a few definitions:

First, from The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences:

Steampunk is an inspired movement of creativity and imagination. With a backdrop of either Victorian England or America’s Wild West at hand, modern technologies are re-imagined and realized as elaborate works of art, fashion, and mechanics. If Jules Verne or H.G. Wells were writing their science fiction today, it would be considered “steampunk.”

Second is this one from: Steampunk Avenue blog:

Steam is a central element of steampunk. The technology featured in this universe is generally just as advanced as that of our modern world, but it uses steam as its energy source instead of electricity, gas or oil. As a result, steampunk technology takes on a retro look reminiscent of the Industrial Revolution era. As Douglas Fetherling so aptly put it, “Steampunk is a genre that imagines how different the past might have been had the future come earlier.”

We saw some interesting looking machines and vehicles in and around Lincoln Castle that day. These are just a few of them:

What about the punk in steampunk? This explanation is from the Asylum Steampunk website:

Can you still call it steam-PUNK?  Punk in the seventies was a rebellion against contemporary society.  We are most definitely rebelling but we are making a stand against: throwaway society, poor manners and antisocial behaviour, homogenisation and commercialism.  We are punks who are polite, friendly, care about the environment and the past and encourage creativity.

Steampunk style decoration on a stall

The costumes are terrific and so creative, and in Lincoln – as I imagine there are in many cities and towns – there’s at least one shop that sells ready-made costumes for steampunks. Several people we chatted to had made their own costumes. With temperatures of 31-33 degrees (Celsius) it must have been unbearably hot inside some of the costumes, especially for those wearing gas masks and other weird head coverings, or items of clothing such as thick cloaks and coats, long boots or tight corsets!

We also saw this character wandering around chatting to everyone. By golly… it’s Captain Jack!

There were plenty of stalls selling steampunk clothing and other items, in both the castle grounds and around the Cathedral and the top of Steep Hill:

One of the main events of the day was the Parade, featuring a very young Queen Victoria and a variety of individuals and groups, including nurses and soldiers – even some mounted on their trusty steeds (i.e. dinosaurs). Visitors lined the road through the castle grounds to watch the procession walk there and back – and guess who we spotted amongst the spectators:

We were hoping to go again this year, but unfortunately all events are cancelled. I can only hope things are back to normal by August 2021.

Parasols out on a hot day


18 thoughts on “Steampunk Festival 2019

  1. Thanks for this post, Millie! I didn’t know that Lincoln has the largest steampunk festival in the world. Your photos are great!

    An interesting aside: many of my friends who do Medieval reenactment also do steampunk. 🙂

    1. I didn’t know that about the Lincoln steampunk event either Timi, until we went along. All the leaflets and adverts said the same so I went with that for my post. Our two daughters had been several times and insisted that Nick and I would enjoy it – and they were right. We had no idea what steampunk was about and thought it was something for young people. We were so wrong. Most of the participants were far from young.
      I can understand why people who enjoy medieval reenactments would also enjoy steampunk events. The fun is getting into the spirit of the event – and enjoying the company of people who take part. It was incredible just observing it all, but it would have been so much better if we’d been ‘properly’ dressed for the occasion. 😀

    1. That first costume is fabulous, Peggy, and the lady kindly posed so well for us. We saw many wonderful costumes on the day and what was best about it all was that people were having so much fun. I really hope there’ll be another event next year – but who knows what will happen between now and then? I’ve really missed visiting places this year. (Now I’m feeling sorry for myself. Lol)

    1. This event had totally passed us by, too, Peter, until last year – and we live only eight miles away from Lincoln. Despite being ‘oldies’, we loved it, and will definitely go to the next one, whenever it is. There are lots of steampunk events in places other than Lincoln, Peter, so you may find one closer to you. Lincoln is supposed to the the ‘biggie’ though. I imagine the fabulous venue helps with that. Uphill Lincoln is an amazing place for history lovers.

      1. Yes, the Christmas Market is wonderful and part of Christmas around here. We’re hoping it will be ‘on’ this year, but with social distancing it may not be possible.

    1. Nick and I went along to this event in total ignorance of what steampunk actually involved, Mike. Two of our children who had visited it a few times in the past had attempted to explain – but their words meant little to us! We now have a good idea of what it entails and can say that our visit to the event was really amazing, although we felt quite out of place in our jeans and T-shirts. It was such a FUN day out, and the fabulous weather helped.

  2. It was a lot of fun, Jill, and we were so disappointed the event couldn’t be held again this year – not that we were surprised. No events or reenactments have been possible this year and all historic sites have been closed. We have so many photos of this event that it was really hard to decide which to include. Thank you for liking those I did post!

    1. It was a terrific event and we were so disappointed not to be going again this year. I know these events are held in many countries, and you’ll be sure to love it! The whole atmosphere is wonderful.

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