Steampunk Festival 2019

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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: http://www.ministryofpeculiaroccurrences.com/what-is-steampunk/

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: https://steampunkavenue.com/en/blog/what-is-steampunk/

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: https://www.asylumsteampunk.co.uk/what-is-steampunk/

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