Festival where steam meets punk
Art and Stage
Absynth makes the heart grow fonder at the Steampunk New Zealand Festival.
Steampunk sees the age of steam meet punk and its New Zealand home is Oamaru.
The burgeoning sub-culture which delights in creating things that are a blend of the modern and anachronistic, will be celebrated in Oamaru over Queen's Birthday Weekend.
Held over four days the Steampunk New Zealand Festival is the nation's largest and longest-running steampunk event.
But Helen Jansen of Steampunk New Zealand describes it as a festival for everyone - "steampunker or not".
"It is a family-orientated event that celebrates imagination, creativity, fun and above all participation," she says.
If you are not dressed for the occasion, walk in one end of the Souk market in street clothes, rummage through some stalls for your clothing, search other stalls for your timeless accessories or make your hat, your raygun or your goggles along the way.
Tea duelling is something everyone can enjoy, Jansen suggests.
"Team up with a couple of others and challenge all-comers to see who is the champion at dunking and eating a whole biscuit last. Enormous fun."
Events include an Absynth Night, steampunk short stories, dance classes and a performance by Silhouette, runners up in New Zealand's Got Talent, cup cake decorating, steampunk racing and music madness, steam train rides around the Oamaru Harbour, a Steampunk New Zealand fashion show with Te Radar as MC and a gala dinner.
Christchurch-born Ged Maybury, an award-winning New Zealand children's author and steampunk writer based in Australia, will take a writer's workshop and also launch his steampunk trilogy, Steampunk Across the Stonewind Sky.
This year's festival includes the addition of the Brydone Oamaru Fringe Festival Late Night.
It features pirate entertainers Festus McBoyle, belly dancer, children's shows and a children's choir presenting Victorian music hall songs.
Kicking off the steampunk festival is Oamaru "on fire", a "fire, steam, sound, lighting spectacular that successfully showcases Harbour Street in the evening and in winter as an attraction for the entire family."
It attracts large numbers of visitors to Oamaru for Queen's Birthday weekend including motorcyclists on their way to the Brass Monkey Rally.
This year's event will have a world class projection and lighting focus using the buildings as a stunning canvas, as well as an innovative visual and performing arts programme and involvement by young local performers.
Internationally renowned "visual architects" Out of the Dark will choreograph the lighting and pyrotechnic experience.
It is the first time video mapping has been used in the South Island.
Oamaru "on fire" includes freestyle skateboarding demonstrations by professional New Zealand skateboarders Sean Bone and Ben Wallis, a children's disco, professional circus and street performers, fire jugglers, a pyrotechnic show, WWII cannon, bands, traction engine, film, art and more.
Throughout the weekend there will also be opportunities to visit Steampunk HQ and The Time Travellers Museum.
"Learn to ride a penny farthing and explore the many other galleries and attractions that Oamaru offers, and then see the penguins," Jansen suggests.
Steampunk New Zealand Festival, Thames Street, Oamaru, May 29 to June 2.
Oamaru "on fire" is on Friday, May 30, Queen's Birthday Weekend, from 6.30-9pm in Harbour Street, Oamaru. $5 per person.
- The Press