The world’s largest Steampunk festival, famously set in Lincoln, has been moved to Newark-on-Trent – and the COVID-19 pandemic is to blame.
Organisers’ plans for the annual Lincoln festival were scuppered following advice about the safety of visitors and residents in the midst of recovery.
The voluntary team which organises the festival, the Ministry of Steampunk, said it has undertaken months of discussions with Lincolnshire County Council, City of Lincoln Council, Lincoln BIG, the safety advisory group and police, but it was determined the 2021 festival could not go ahead.
Instead, it has secured a number of venues in Newark for an alternative August bank holiday event.
The annual festival welcomes more than 100,000 peopled to Lincoln each August, many of whom don mind-blowing costumes celebrating the retro-futuristic, sci-fi subculture.
Festival Director, John Naylor, said: “Steampunk is a very attractive and welcoming scene but this brings with it an audience over which we have no direct control.
“The obvious benefits of these visitors are entirely to the local tourism economy. As a volunteer based arts organisation this left us in an untenable position.
“We cannot control who comes to the streets of Lincoln and were therefore advised that we should not run the Asylum Steampunk Festival in Lincoln this year but should look for an alternative location.”
The not-for-profit organisation has also agreed to do all they can to discourage any Steampunks from visiting Lincoln over the August Bank Holiday weekend and for one year only will be asking the world’s Steampunks and interested visitors to stay away.
The team said they hope they will be able to return to Lincoln when they are welcome once again.
City of Lincoln Council told reporters it was already in discussions to bring the event back in 2022.
Following discussions with Newark and Sherwood District Council, the Ministry of Steampunk has instead been able to secure multiple venues and support to host a festival in Newark-on-Trent.
The castle, marketplace and Kelham Hall will host features, exhibitions, talks, workshops, markets and performances, with a shuttle bus for visitors to easily enjoy both town and county based venues.
The team are now working very closely with the authorities in Newark and nationally in light of ongoing pandemic situation to ensure an alternative, safe and enjoyable festival.
Full details of the Newark Steampunk Festival will be posted on www.asylumsteampunk.co.uk shortly.
Lincoln BIG, Lincolnshire County Council and Lincoln City Council said in a joint statement: “We 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.”