The Queen’s Birthday Weekend is the unofficial beginning of winter in New Zealand, but in Oamaru it is also the official Steampunk Festival weekend, when this historic and beautiful town becomes the destination for hundreds of outlandishly dressed people from all over the country and indeed the world, who come to celebrate the world of Steampunk.
If you’re not already familiar with Steampunk, it is a form of science fiction that imagines a how the future would have looked to the Victorian-era imagination, featuring “retro-futuristic” imagery, tools and decorations. Doctor Who has a lot of Steampunk elements, and even shows like The Simpsons have made Steampunk references in select episodes.
The NZ Steampunk Festival has grown into a sizeable event, spanning three days and incorporating dances, readings, markets, and competitions. Perhaps the biggest of these competitions (and the one that formed the nexus of the Steampunk Festival) is the Steampunk Fashion Show, where creative folks show off the costumes they have developed for their Steampunk personna, which can involve some truly fantastical elements.
A new event that took place this year was the first annual Steampunk Teapot Race, which saw dozens of competitors race remote-control teapots through a complicated obstacle course. Of course hilarity inevitably ensued, as these contraptions were not exactly designed for manoeuvrability. And for people who did not already have a complete Steampunk outfit, there was a day-long Steampunk souk held on the opening day of the festival where you could stock up on brass goggles, clockwork jewellery and all the other appurtenances of the Steampunk lifestyle.
The climax of the weekend is the Steampunk Ball, at which the winners of the fashion show are announced. But that’s not really the end of the festival, since there is also a “people’s choice” award to be awarded, and YOU can vote! When the photos have been uploaded, there will be an open voting process. When the link is available, we will share it of course!