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Watch City Steampunk Festival Returns to Waltham With All-Outdoor Lineup

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Following a two-year hiatus, the Watch City Steampunk Festival returns Saturday, May 7, to Waltham, Massachusetts with an entertainment lineup that includes Celtica Nova, Frenchy and the Punk, The Eternal Frontier, A Halo Called Fred, Keith Engle, The Busted Jug Band, The Dirge Carolers, and Karnevil sideshow. Traditionally one of the largest steampunk gatherings in the U.S., it will also feature art displays, puppeteers, kids’ activities, and lots more. Admission is free.

Past festivals have included events at the Waltham Public Library and other indoor facilities, but with ongoing concerns about Covid-19, “it seemed safest to stick to outdoor venues,” says lead organizer Melissa Honig. “So we’re a bit smaller this year, but we still have two stages of entertainment and over 60 vendors, and I think people will be happy simply to have something outdoors to go to.”

The pandemic forced cancellation of the 2020 gathering, and the 2021 festival was held virtually.

One highlight this year will be an appearance by Queen Victoria, courtesy of puppeteers Doug Cowell and Harry La Coste of Dogtoon Media. Her Majesty will take the stage for the opening and closing ceremonies, along with festival regulars Captain Von Arkham, Mayor Solomon Sedgwick, and Queen Mercy Roulette.

Cowell and La Coste also created puppets of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, who will appear in person this year after performances at the 2021 virtual festival.

Headline act Celtica Nova is an international ensemble that combines Celtic rock with Scottish bagpipes. The band’s albums include the 2016 steampunk-themed release Steamphonia.

Other highlights include:

• A steampunk Lego display by the New England Lego Users Group;

• Steamachine Sculptures by Todd Cahill;

• Blacksmithing demonstrations by Prospect Hill Forge;

• An exhibition of antiques and inventions by the Museum of Interesting Things;

• Dance performances by the Watch City Bellydance Extravaganza and the team of Ruth Levin & Lynn Modell.

Hold High the Flag, Sgt. Carney, a one-man play by Bruce Chester about William Harvey Carney, an African-American Civil War soldier who won the Medal of Honor.

A full schedule is now posted on the website.

One staple of past festivals has been a series of “Mrs. Hawking” stage plays by Phoebe Roberts and Bernie Gabin, but this year’s adventure is a virtual presentation on YouTube. The plays feature Victoria Cornelia Stanton Hawking, a Victorian-era detective who shares characteristics of Sherlock Holmes and a “lady Batman.”

The festival takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Waltham Common in the city’s downtown. Food trucks will be there most of the day. Honig adds that part of Moody Street near Waltham Common will be closed to traffic to allow outdoor dining. The city is about 10 miles west of Boston.

Honig is still on the lookout for volunteers to assist on festival day. Shifts are in two-hour blocks. Learn more on the website.

This story was updated with a link to the full schedule.

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