May has always been a packed time for steampunk events, and this year is no exception. With the help of Kevin Steil, the Airship Ambassador and our delightful guest contributor “the Mad Sonictist” Veronique Chevalier, we’ve gathered a listing of top steampunk and of-steampunk-interest festivities from around the world. This month includes nine conventions of all shapes and sizes, from a CthulhuCon / film fest for the Lovecraftians buffs to a cruise along the historic Bridgewater Canal in Manchester, UK.
Did we miss your shindig? Feel free to plug in the comments thread. Any upcoming events for June can also be sent to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before May 15th to be featured here next month.
All descriptions are taken from the event’s website or Facebook page unless stated otherwise.
The Airship Ambassador recommends:
Arcadian Clockwork: A Dark Fantasy Steampunk Experience—May 4—Austin, TX
Mr. Saturday & Sixpence, your magical hosts for the evening, have gathered together dark powers with clockwork machinations to bring you what will no doubt be remembered as a truly majestic affair. Come and enjoy the mystical and musical trappings of the incomparable: Unwoman, Psyche Corporation, Darwin Prophet, DJ Argo.
Victoria Steam Exposition IV—May 31—June 2—Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
The premiere steampunk event in the Dominion of Canada is back for a fourth year in Victoria, British Columbia. Where previous years have been encased in palaces of cut-crystal and gleaming brass, this year it’s the gritty back-alleys of the 19th century colonial capital which are brought to the fore—after-hours corners and upstairs dives where the paths of explorers and inventors cross with those of airship scoundrels & duplicitous courtesans. The weekend is wrapped around Alleyways: An Alternative Reality Game / scavenger hunt specially designed for this event—sending the braver of attendees through brick alleys, half-forgotten nooks, and opulent lodges of secret societies in pursuit of treasure-unlocking puzzle-clues. At the Exposition’s old-brick 1909 headquarters there will be merchants, outfitters, panels, artists and authors, speakers and performers, history lections, and craft activities for families.
Steampunk Ocean Adventure (Cottonopolis Coglective’s 2nd Anniversary Celebration)—May 18—Castlefield, Manchester,UK
It’s Cottonopolis Coglective’s 2nd Anniversary! To celebrate we are embarking on a water based adventure, steam trains are so 2012. We have hired the Bohemia to take us on a cruise of the historic Bridgewater Canal. Departing at Dukes 92, Castlefield at 4pm, we will cruise from Castlefield-St Georges Island—Pomona Lock—Old Trafford—Manchester United—Stretford returning back to Dukes 92 for a trip which lasts about 3 hours.
Veronique Chevalier recommends:
Gaslight Gathering 3—Traveling The Seven Seas—May 3-5—Town & Country Resort Hotel—San Diego, California
Why Veronique recommends this: “It’s a charming flight of fancy to stage Southern California’s largest and longest-running annual steampunk convocation aboard the imaginary Zeppelin Rigid Aethership Gaslight, the flagship of the Daedalus Line, whose luxury transport was once enjoyed exclusively by the world’s most discerning travelers. And this year’s Guests of Honor artist Brian Kesinger (creator of “The Tea Girls” and author of Walking Your Octopus), as well as author/John W. Campbell Award-winner and multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards, Jay Lake, are apt choices to royally regale patrons. (And it just so happens that a certain MAD-emoiselle has been enticed into presenting her signature “Steampunk As A Superculture” panel as well). This voyage over “The Seven Seas” should provide passengers with an exotic array of sights, including a vendors’ bazaar; charity auction in honour of Cancer-Warrior/Hero Jay Lake; and two fashion show/tea parties. Aural offerings shall be provided by locally-based Steam Powered Giraffe, as well as Bay Area Swing Meisters Lee Presson and The Nails.”
AetherCircus—Steampunk Cultural Festival in Germany—May 4 & 5—The Fortress Grauerort, Stade, Lower Saxony, Germany
Why Veronique recommends this: “AetherCircus is Germany’s first Steampunk Festival, held in a non-imaginary Prussian Fortress—“Festung Grauerort”—built over the course of ten years, from 1869-1879. What could be more invigorating for an avid Alt History buff than strolling along the beautiful Elbe River and chancing upon a cultural event featuring costumed attendees, live music, maker workshops, art exhibits, and a vendors market? The City of Stade, in which The Grauerort stands, is now a suburb of Hamburg, and is renowned for it’s distinctive historic district comprised of some of the finest half-timber architecture in The EU. Surely there could be no grander occasion to trot out your modded Maverick and don your most piquant Pickelhaube!”
Up In The Aether—THE Convention—May 24—26—The Double Tree, Detroit/Dearborn, MI
Why Veronique recommends this: “With a theme of “Out of the Ashes” and a location like Motown, how could this NOT be a steam-worthy way of spending Memorial Day Weekend? Although the demise of Detroit’s previous Steampunk convention, WSE was lamented by many, its successor shows every indication of being a worthwhile follow up. Offerings are a bit more modest than its predecessor, but it shows at least some modicum of wisdom to start small and then build up to bringing out the bigger names. Quite frankly, booking Voltaire instead of Abney Park as a headliner is not only sensible but commendable. Also, featuring authors Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris is a lovely gesture in the wake of the Goodreads Steampunk Reading List Scandal of 2012… UITA is a volunteer-run, community effort, and as such, their “Phoenix” may still be sporting a few residual, singed tail feathers, but my hunch is once she has the chance to really spread her wings & soar, she will be an annual spectacle not to be missed!”
About the guest contributor: Veronique Chevalier, aka The “Weird Val” of Dark Cabaret, is a woman of many hats. Literally, as well as figuratively. She’s an Entertainer/MC/Panelist who’s plied her trade at steampunk and comic book events the width and breadth of the US. A self-proclaimed “Mad Sonictist,” she’s gained notoriety for her parodies on the theme of Steam, and she roguishly appropriates the tune-age of everyone from the Beatles to Thomas Dolby. MAD Veronique also holds the dubious distinction of originating Gothic Polka, with her recording “Polka Haunt Us: A Spook-tacular Compliation” which was an Official Selection on the 51st Annual Grammy Ballot. She shall soon be releasing a volume of steampunk haiku, with full-color illustrations by Walter Sickert; and she was also the 2012 Recipient of the Steampunk Chronicle Readers Choice Award for “Best Dressed Female Steampunk.” Her certain je ne sais quoi is attributable to having been born an only child in France, to a fashion-forward Parisian mother, and a Lithuanian-American broadcast journalist father. Her full-blown MAD-emoiselleness is most likely the result of having grown up whilst traversing the globe with her parents, where she attended 13 different schools in as many different geographical locales. Veronique’s Website: http://WeirdVal.com
Other events around the world
Boiler Plate Ball: Steampunk Steps —May 2—Orlando Museum of Art Orlando, FL
Artists provide an alternative view to their work, whether it is steampunk, dieselpunk or clockpunk, showing their insight, wit and humor.
2013 H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival & CthulhuCon—May 3-5—Portland OR
The H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival promotes the works of H.P. Lovecraft, literary horror, and weird tales through the cinematic adaptations by professional and amateur filmmakers. The festival was founded in 1995 by Andrew Migliore in the hope that H.P. Lovecraft would be rightly recognized as a master of gothic horror and his work more faithfully adapted to film and television.
Clockwork Underworld: A Clockwork Watch event—May 3—5—London, UK
Explore the dark Backstreets of London’s East End, see the less salubrious side of clockwork automata, step into The Den and be entertained by the finest Victoriana Burlesque, or visit the First Oasis, the world’s first Clockwork friendly bar to see a plethora of curiosities at first hand. Welcome to the wild side of Victoriana, where you can witness at first hand the seedy underbelly of the Clockwork Underworld—the next immersive theatrical experience where the audience become characters in the production, and can make creative adjustments to the Clockwork Watch story. Clockwork Underworld is part of a the Make Believe Festival—a weekend-long event where Clockwork Watch meets the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.
High Desert Steam Steampunk Expo—May 12—Sparks Rail Museum, Sparks, Nevada
Free admission! The second year of the steampunk expo! Enjoy shopping, a fashion show, workshops, and TEA DUELING! Rated PG for all ages (with possibility of minor swearing due to occasional fighting with corsetry).
Watch City Festival—May 12—13—Waltham, MA
Come to the Watch City Festival in Waltham, MA on May 11th and 12th, 2013, with special events the evening of Friday May 10th. Celebrate the 200th anniversary of Francis Cabot Lowell’s founding of the factory whose building would eventually be home to the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation!
Duluth Art Institute Steampunk Spectacular—May 16—17—Duluth, MN
A two-day gathering of artists, performers, and fashion designers and enthusiasts to celebrate Steampunk. The Duluth Art Institute is seeking Steampunk-inspired works for various events within Steampunk Spectacular. Artists may apply for the t-shirt design contest, art exhibit, and emporium/marketplace.
Steampunk World’s Fair—May 17—19—Piscataway, NJ
The Steampunk World’s showcases, celebrates, and innovates Steampunk culture, community, music, arts, literature, gaming, dancing, and more—in both indoor and outdoor settings. Featuring community guests, sideshow performances, guest speakers, workshops, discussions, vendors, a dedicated gaming room, costume contests and other competitions, film screenings, dinner theater, and three different stages to showcase the largest collection of steampunk musical performances at any event in the world, The Steampunk World’s Fair creates a festival environment which appeals to all ranges of Steampunk and geek-related interest.
Steampunk: A Journey in Time—May 18—Trethewey House, 2313 Ware St., Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
In honour of HRM Queen Victoria’s birthday, Trethewey House Heritage Site in Abbotsford cordially invite everyone to join them. There will be a Bartitsu demo (and hopefully umbrella defense demo) from Academie Duello. Also providing festivities will be: bodypainting artist Magna Goerke of catzfaces.com, Venetian-style mask-maker and textile artist Ann Grundy, jewelry-makers Belle Bibelot and Funky Cool Patina, Whovianart, as well as others.