Steampunk festival starts with a hiss and a roar

May 31, 2018 - 27 views

Teapot and airship racing may sound unusual to some, but as far as steampunks are concerned it is the equivalent of a Sunday drive.


The ninth edition of the Steampunk NZ Festival starts in Oamaru tomorrow night with the Fire and Steam event and vaudeville show, and will conclude with a gala ball on Sunday night.

Steampunk is described as a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. It has thousands of followers around the world.

Organised by the Steampunk NZ Trust, the annual event attracts steampunks from around New Zealand and the likes of Australia and the United States.

Steampunk NZ Trust chairman Neave Willoughby, a familiar face to many at the festival, said there were a couple of new additions to this year's programme, along with the usual favourites.

One was a workshop on ''steampunking a Nerf gun'' and the other the introduction of monster teapot racing on Harbour St, a spin-off from the more traditional regular-sized teapot races held around an indoor obstacle course.

The steampunk parade in Harbour St on Saturday morning is back, as is the mess dinner and airship races that night and the steampunk fashion show on Sunday afternoon.

''The Victorian precinct in Oamaru is really being taken over by the steampunks,'' Mr Willoughby, based in Christchurch, said.

''We're having a big parade on Harbour St which means we can really make it the centre of the steampunk activity and really have a lot of steampunk craziness all weekend.''

He said Fire and Steam was a ''great way to kick off the festivities'' and expected it to be a great night.

Co-organiser Kat Douglas, known in steampunk circles for having a mobility scooter converted into a giant teapot created by Mr Willoughby, said Oamaru had the deserved reputation overseas as being a ''steampunk capital''.

It was the largest steampunk event in the southern hemisphere and the second-largest in the world, behind a similar event held annually in Lincoln, in the United Kingdom.

She said it was ''inclusiveness'' that made Oamaru's festival so popular.

''There's a really good range of ages there. You've even got teenagers doing it. There's the creative side of things and a lot of us are self-confessed geeks.

"You'll always find someone with the same interests as you, and a lot of really shy people have used steampunk as a way of coming out. I say to people, what do you want steampunk to be? It's an imaginary world, so run with it and have fun.''

Not to be missed

Friday: Fire and Steam, Harbour St, 6pm-8.30pm. Family event with fire, light, live music, street entertainers and food stalls.

Saturday: Steampunk Parade, Harbour St, 10am. Steampunks and ‘‘trad’’ Victorians showing off their most elegant streetwear.

Saturday: Teapot Racing World Championships, Oamaru Club, 2pm­4pm. Prizes for quickest, most entertaining, best dressed and more.

Sunday: Fashion Show, Oamaru Opera House, 3pm-5pm. Theatre pieces complete with costume and props as well as steampunk street fashion.

Sunday: Gala Ball, Oamaru Club, 7.30pm-midnight. Bubbles, supper and dancing to conclude a busy weekend.


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