The steampunk subculture has been growing in popularity across the UK in recent years. From small local meetups to large-scale festivals, there are now numerous events happening annually for steampunk enthusiasts to enjoy. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the neo-Victorian aesthetic of steampunk, here are some of the top events not to miss in the UK..
The Great Exhibition of the North
The Great Exhibition of the North is a summer-long festival that takes place across Newcastle and Gateshead every two years. The 2018 event had a noticeable steampunk theme, with organizers bringing the Victorian era to life through events, exhibitions, live performances and steampunk-inspired artwork.
Some of the steampunk highlights included:
- A Steampunk Spectacular showcasing steampunk vehicles, arts, and fashion
- Steampunk-themed escape rooms at Escape Newcastle Gateshead
- Various steampunk bands, dancers, and other street performers
The festival aims to elevate art and culture across the North of England, so expect more steampunk fun when it returns in 2024.
The Asylum Steampunk Festival
The Asylum is the world’s longest-running steampunk festival, having started in 2009. It takes place annually in August/September within the magnificent historical setting of Lincoln Castle.
Some key attractions at The Asylum include:
- The League of Splendid -oli-day Makers: interactive street theatre
- Live bands playing steampunk music on multiple stages
- The Grand Bazaar: seller stalls for steampunk wares
- Tea duelling championships
- Costume competitions with great prizes
- Steampunk shields painting workshops
With tickets selling fast each year, The Asylum is regarded as one of the steampunk community’s unmissable calendar events.
Whitby Goth Weekend
Whitby Goth Weekend is one of the largest alternative subculture festivals in the world. Held twice a year in Whitby, this event has a strong steampunk presence amongst its myriad of gothic/industrial/punk offerings.
Some of the steampunk highlights you can catch at Whitby Goth Weekend include:
- Live bands playing steampunk music, such as Victor Sierra and Infernal Clockwork
- Steampunk fashion shows and costuming workshops
- Stalls selling steampunk-inspired clothing, corsets and accessories
- Steampunk literary readings and panel discussions
- Dance classes in Victorian/steampunk dance styles
The unique coastal setting of Whitby only adds to the neo-Victorian atmosphere.
Milton Keynes International Festival
Milton Keynes International Festival is a biennial multi-arts festival that takes place in July. It features many free events such as dance, circus, street performances, and large scale public spectacles.
The 2019 edition embraced a Victorian futurism theme with steampunk-inspired performances including:
- Heart of Darkness – an immense mechanical water show on massive moving boats
- The Invisible Circus – an immersive circus theatre show
- Victoria’s Palace of Varieties – vaudeville comedy routines
Expect more fantastical neo-Victorian entertainment when the festival returns in 2023.
Weekend at the Asylum (Lincolnshire)
A smaller scale Weekend at the Asylum event complements the main Lincoln-based Asylum Festival held in August. This relaxed winter gathering happens annually in early December and features:
- Live music and entertainment
- Christmas steampunk market
- Festive workshops like wreath making
- Photos with Santa in steampunk costume
- Festive costume contest
A chance to get into the Christmas spirit, 19th century style!
Steampunk Festivals (Various Locations)
In addition to the major events above, there are various smaller steampunk festivals and conventions held across the UK each year.
Some examples include:
|Weekend at the Asylum Spring||Lincoln|
|Great Dorset Steam Fair||Dorset|
|Lincoln Steam Festival||Lincoln|
|Deepest Darkest Weekend||Brighton|
Check individual event sites closer to the time for up to date details.
In addition to major events, there are various regular steampunk arts, fashion, and collectibles markets that pop up across the UK.
Some of the best ones to look out for include:
- Lincoln Steampunk Market – Monthly market in Lincoln city center
- Whitby Steampunk Weekend Market – Biannual market during Whitby’s steampunk weekends
- Surrey Steampunk Convivial – Monthly market in Surrey and Sussex
- The Cogs Can Turn – Monthly artisan market in Bristol
- Acme Invention Emporium – Monthly Leeds-based market
- The Steamtown Emporium – Biannual street fair in Manchester
These are perfect for picking up some neo-Victorian and steampunk-inspired clothing, art, homewares, or quirky antiques.
Steampunk Pubs and Museum Nights
Several UK pubs and museums hold regular steampunk nights or events.
Some top options include:
- Steampunk Pubs: Temple of Steam (Lincoln), The Great Northern (Manchester)
- Steampunk Museum Events: London Science Museum Lates, Manchester Science Industry Museum After Hours
Expect everything from themed cocktails and menus to live music, entertainment, lectures, and steampunk activities at these events.
If you are venturing further afield into Europe, check out some of the top events in Europe.
Wrapping Up: Top Steampunk Events In The UK
The steampunk subculture and aesthetic has well and truly taken off across the UK in recent times. From small informal gatherings to huge festivals attracting thousands, there are abundant events for steampunk fans to enjoy.
Be sure to dig out your neo-Victorian finery and immerse yourself in the fantasy world of steampunk at one of these fantastic UK events. Let your inner adventurer or mad scientist run wild!
Which of these top UK steampunk events most appeals to you? Are there any other great ones we should know about?
Let us know in the comments below!