June 3, 2021 9.47 am This story is over 29 months old

A Lincoln v Newark punk-off: City mourns 2021 Steampunk Festival loss

The event usually draws huge crowds to the city

Lincoln’s love for its iconic Steampunk Festival was clear when the city erupted with objections to the loss of the 2021 event.

“Don’t steal our steampunks,” was the message from hundreds of people in the city after it was announced the event’s vibrant characters would flock to Newark instead.

COVID-19 safety fears were blamed for the move, which was aimed to prevent around 100,000 people from visiting the city in the midst of recovery efforts.

The festival, over August bank holiday, will now take place across venues in Newark, including the town’s market place, castle grounds and Kelham Hall.

People in Lincoln were clear in their disappointment when the news was first shared on The Lincolnite.

“What makes Newark safer than Lincoln for goodness sake?” questioned Paul Fisher. “Another nail in the coffin for the city.”

Michelle Barr wrote on The Lincolnite’s Facebook page: “Although I don’t take part, it’s great to see people attend and see what they are wearing.”

Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Others were fearful the move could be a permanent one. Liz Wiseman said: “If it is a success in Newark they may not want to come back to Lincoln at all, wouldn’t blame them really.”

The City of Lincoln Council has said it is already in talks to ensure the return of the event to the city from 2022.

The event regularly brings around 100,000 people to the city | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Volunteer organisers the Ministry of Steampunk said they had undertaken months of discussions with Lincolnshire County Council, City of Lincoln Council, Lincoln BIG, the safety advisory group and police.

Festival Director John Naylor told supporters the event brings audience numbers ‘over which we have no direct control’, but that it was made clear volunteers would have full responsibility.

“Previously Lincoln BIG and the councils have helped with this, but for 2021 we were told to manage it ourselves. As a volunteer-based arts organisation this left us in an untenable position.”

Councils and the city’s safety advisory group said in a joint statement: “Lincoln BIG, County Council and the City Council understand and appreciate the current challenges around organising what is both a national and international event in the city, due to the impact of the Covid pandemic.

“We therefore very much look forward to working with the organisers to ensure a triumphant return to the Bailgate/Uphill area in the summer 2022 when we will hopefully be beyond all restrictions and we can all enjoy and celebrate the amazing creativity that Steampunk brings to the city.”