July 12, 2021 11.00 am

Lincoln Steampunk festival cancelled for 2021 amid venue woes

Out of steam until a return to Lincoln in 2022

The 2021 Lincoln (and the world’s largest) Steampunk festival has been cancelled after its proposed move to Newark fell flat as the venue went into administration.

The annual festival is famously held in Lincoln each year, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city, but it was announced it would be moved to Newark and at Kelham Hall for 2021.

This move came after local authorities in Lincoln were concerned the event would not be safe to take place in the city, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, so plans were made by organisers to find a new location.

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Newark was selected for the alternative August bank holiday festival, in which there are two events: one for ticket buyers (at Kelham Hall) and another which is free to the public (historic Newark town centre).

The move from Lincoln to Newark was not without controversy, and was seen as a huge blow for Lincoln to lose such a huge event, attracting more than 100,000 come to the city, many who dress up to showcase the retro-futuristic sci-fi subculture of Steampunk.

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Ticket buyers were due to see events happen at Kelham Hall this year, but those plans were scuppered by the venue going into liquidation at the end of June.

As well as this, Newark and Sherwood District Council said they had received no plans for the public event to the local safety advisory group.

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

John Naylor, one of the organisers of the Steampunk festival, said they have attempted to overcome tremendous adversity to put this event on for people.

In a statement on Sunday, he said: “It is with an enormous sense of disappointment and genuine sorrow that I have to inform you that we cannot run an Asylum Steampunk festival this year.

“The road to this point has been extremely challenging. COVID has obviously impacted every activity on the planet but we have striven throughout to work for the steampunk community.

“We created what should have been an amazing steampunk festival whilst still maintaining our unflinching focus on your safety.

“Sadly circumstances entirely outside our control began to strike. Asbestos in the Palace Theatre took a stunning venue off the agenda and then there was a totally unexpected bombshell. Kelham Hall Ltd was forced into liquidation.

“This happened as we were running another event and so we were ourselves away and out of action in Shropshire.”

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Organisers have also said that they’ve been victims of online abuse from select members of the Steampunk community, who have been critical of the handling of organisation this year.

John continued: “Alongside this we have faced a bewildering campaign of shameful toxicity and venom through social media and within a community that generally prides itself on being positive, inclusive and encouraging.

“Why a tiny minority feels they have to pull down and act so childishly is baffling? No doubt you will now see gloating and schadenfreude.

“We have had just nine working days to try to save the festival. We looked at lots of possibilities and have been knocked back every time.

“Suggestions, offers of help, ideas and encouragement aplenty but even with literally hundreds of emails and phone calls almost daily trips to Newark and Lincoln, meetings on zoom and in real life; it became evident we could not secure an alternative safe space suitable for gaining the correct approvals to run the event for you.”

All tickets purchased for this year’s Steampunk festival will be refunded in the coming weeks, with the option to roll them over and keep the tickets for next year in Lincoln.

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