If you’re not familiar with steampunk and have never been to a steampunk event before, then the first thing to bear in mind is… expect the unexpected! Steampunk is a wonderful world of historic reinvention using fashion, art, music, theatre, performance and more.

Credit: Garreth Anderson- Go Explore Photography

Credit: Garreth Anderson- Go Explore Photography

Essentially, steampunk is a kind of historic science fantasy which draws together technology, design and Victorian industrial steam power in to one hugely popular cultural phenomenon.

The top 10 things you can expect to see at a steampunk event are:

Corsets. Nothing says ‘steampunk fashion’ like a corset does. Taken from the Victorian influence corsets are frequently incorporated into steampunk costume from the most basic to most elaborate. Industrial-style rivets, chains and metal buckles are popular adornments along with chunky belts and choker collars.

Goggles. One of the most distinctive finishing touches to steampunk costume you’re sure to see people with goggles sitting on their top-hats or around their necks but rarely on the eyes. There are lots of brightly coloured lenses, antique metallic finishes and evocative aviator goggles.

Hats. Steampunks are big hat lovers – the bigger and more elaborate the better. You’ll see all sorts of fabrics, such as leather and felt, in all kinds of shapes and sizes. From driving caps and aviator hats to riding hats and army caps you’ll be under-dressed without a hat at a steampunk event.

Accessories. Now, we’re talking elaborate accessories here – not your discreet adornments! Lace, feathers, scarves, gloves sit alongside the aforementioned goggles and monocles. Masks are hugely popular as are umbrellas, compasses, watches and other techy-gismos.

Reinventions. Steampunk is a mash-up of old and new technology and design so you see all kinds of mind-boggling creations at events. Beautifully crafted mobile phone cases, nerf guns, vintage robots and endless gadgets are amongst the, often homemade, pieces proudly shown at events.

All ages. Young, old and everyone in between. That’s who you’ll see at a steampunk event. There isn’t a ‘typical’ steampunk – the appeal crosses gender-lines, is inter-generational and consumes whole families from grandparents to teenagers.

Cowboys, Victorians and Zombies. There is room for every type of fantasy and fandom in steampunk – aliens, zepplins, pirates, mad scientists, scullery maids. It blends horror, spaghetti westerns, romance, fantasy, adventure, Victorians and more seamlessly.

Laughter. A steampunk event is a fun event. Everyone will be complementing each other on their great costumes, fab accessories, quirky gadgets and will be embracing the spirit of steampunk.

Art and Entertainment. Steampunk may be popularly known as a fashion-based genre but there’s much more to it. Great art, stunning crafts and innovative & unusual entertainment are all par for the course at a steampunk event. Performance is hugely important and you will see all kinds of light-hearted skits such as tea-duelling (essentially a game of courage that involves dunking a biscuit in to a cup of tea and getting it to your mouth in one piece) and military-inspired parades.

More Steampunks. Steampunk events are proper community events and friends come together to share ideas, talk fashion tips and discuss trends and developments in their special world.

All-in-all a steampunk event is an experience quite like no other with endless fun activities, the chance to dress-up in wonderful outfits and elaborate accessories and to spend time learning more about a fascinating science fantasy/fiction subgenre.

If you want to experience steampunk for yourself go along to Blists Hill Victorian Town, near Ironbridge in Shropshire over the weekend of Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June and join in the fantastical Steampunk Weekend Festival, which includes a special evening concert (advance tickets only) on the Saturday. For details visit www.ironbridge.org.uk or call 01952 433 424. And don’t forget your top hat and goggles!

Note: Saturday’s day event will run continuously from 10am to 8pm, while on Sunday the Festival is open from 10am to 4.30pm. Annual Passports will be valid for the weekend or tickets for each day can be purchased on the gate priced at £19.75 adults, £14 for 60 plus and £12 for children under 16; under 5s free. The ‘Iron Made In’ concert requires an additional ticket priced at £10 per person, which must be purchased in advance from www.ironbridge.org.uk


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