So, what exactly is steampunk? - Metro US

So, what exactly is steampunk?

Steampunk Festival
Get your steampunk on this weekend. Photo by Bobbi Lane

Imagine a world where the Civil War was fought with armored airships and Queen Victoria managed her empire with a steam-powered computer. That may sound a bit out there, but it’s on par with the artistic imagery you’ll find at this weekend’s Watch City Steampunk Festival.

The annual free fest will once again take over Waltham Common on Saturday, bringing together thousands of local steampunk enthusiasts for a full day of music, food and various oddities inspired by this science fiction fantasy genre. Like any gathering of sci-fi fans, expect to see plenty of far-out costumes.

If you’re still confused over what exactly steampunk is and what to expect from Watch City, let the fest’s entertainment coordinator Melissa Honig explain.

What the heck is steampunk?

Steampunk refers to a genre of literature as well as to a fashion and lifestyle movement that incorporates technology and designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. What if everything that H.G. Wells and Jules Verne wrote about was true, and we lived in a world of fantastic submarines and secret worlds at the center of the Earth?

People tend to participate in the steampunk community by building costumes and props, and sometimes by creating elaborate histories for their fictional characters. At Watch City you may encounter a mad airship captain, a queen, a snake oil salesman and a group of people racing remote-controlled teapots.

How do people celebrate at Watch City?

[The fest] has a lot of musical acts to enjoy across three outdoor stages, plus theatrical performances at 274 Moody Street and panel discussions at the Waltham Public Library. There will be over 60 vendors to shop at. We have activities specifically for children! New events include a “mummy unwrapping” (no real mummies will be harmed) and a panel on the history of séances.

We will have food trucks available. Local restaurant Brelundi will have a tent as well. Definitely check out the Old-West-themed soda saloon!

How do people prep for the fest?

You don’t need to dress like a steampunk to come enjoy the festival. If you do want to dress up, you don’t need to spend a huge amount of money. Look through your closet or your local thrift store for clothes and accessories. Find things with a vintage flair. Vests, hats, lacy things, granny boots, etc. can all be the basis of an outfit.

If you go:

May 13, Waltham Common, 610 Main St., Waltham, Free. watchcityfestival.com.

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