Circus of Curiosities – the only limiting factor is your imagination

If you are looking for something unique, something special, something just a little bit out of the ordinary then make a date in your diary for the Hastings Steampunk Circus of Curiosities next month.

The world of Steampunk is one limited only by your imagination and will be on show in all its glory Saturday September 14th and Sunday September 15th at the St Leonards Show Ground in Magdalen Road.

It’s the third year in a row that mother and daughter team Linda and Gemma Harcourt-Smith have staged a special Steampunk event in the town and each year the event has increased in size and has attracted people from further afield. This year in addition from people from all over the UK overseas visitors will include visitors from Holland and one who is coming all the way from Singapore to be part of the event.

This year Linda is excited by the new venue. Now known as St Leonards Showground the event will be staged in the grounds of the former convent off Magdalen Road, 12 acres of land complete with buildings in gothic style that compliments the very ethos of Steampunk.

Linda and Gemma run an events business called Power Events and first came face to face with Steampunk in Eastbourne almost four years ago. They were immediately hooked and both women were determined to do something in Hastings.

“I knew nothing about Steampunk then,” says Linda, “only what I’d seen on the day.”

She soon put that to rights though: “I bought The Steampunk Bible and devoured it learning all I could about the culture and getting in to all the finer detail about what people want out of Steampunk events and about what actually goes on at these events.”

Linda was determined that any Steampunk event she organised would be true to the concept and values of the followers of Steampunk tradition, so she is careful about the people who can take stalls at her Steampunk events. And after three years Linda and Gemma aren’t just the organisers of a Steampunk event, they have embraced the culture and the history and have immersed themselves world where the only barriers are those thrown up by the limits of your imagination.

So what exactly is Steampunk? It started in the 1980s but its inspirations go back to 19th century Victorian writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. They created stories about steam-powered machines and the Victorian-age settings have inspired Steampunk to create a world where in effect the technology of the Victorian age reigns supreme over that of the modern era.

Steampunk also borrows ideas from the ‘dime novels’ of the 19th century. The books told stories full of melodramatic romance and adventure and there are Steampunk elements in the Dime Novels known then as ‘Edisonades’.

The Steampunk movement is said to reach directly into the pocket of Victorian England to predict what the world would be like today had its inhabitants and inventors prevailed over modern technology.

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The gothic backdrop to next weekend’s event.

And that’s the world that will be celebrated on the St Leonards Showground next month.

“Steampunk has created a very special world where everyone can be whatever they want to be for the two days of the event… a Steampunk event is a very special place to be,” says Linda.

Next month’s Circus of Curiosities will come with, as Linda describes it: “A hat full of tricks.”

There will be entertainment going on right through the two days. There will be both on and off stage performances. There will be workshops, competitions a fun fair, circus entertainment and there will be plenty of story telling.

The Curious House of Stories will have two dedicated stages for traditional story telling in addition to workshops, photographers and merchandise. This element of the event is being run by well know characters Duke Box and Belinda who are great supporters of what Linda and Gemma are trying to achieve with their events and have their dedicated facebook page

Each days runs from 11am until 7pm and there will not be a dull moment across the entire weekend.

Last year’s event was only on one day at Horntye Sports Complex and Linda says many of those who came to visit caught the bug and plan to come back this year with their own costume and Steampunk identity; “I just want people from all walks of life to come along and just enjoy themselves and appreciate what is going on around them and then if they want to get involved they can,” says Linda.

This year’s event is being styled as a circus and will feature a parade, “Steampunk people love a parade,” says Linda.

The parade will include the Pentacle Drummers from Eastbourne and members of the Gosport Steampunk Society who are coming down especially to be part of Linda’s event.

Linda and Gemma are genuinely excited about seeing their plans come to fruition next weekend. It’s been a year of hard work and dedication to put the plans together and now they have a new venue with a backdrop that fits ideally with the Steampunk theme the mother and daughter team have high hopes that the Hastings Steampunk events will be a firm fixture for enthusiasts in the years to come.





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