Amherstburg Uncommon: The History of Steampunk and how to prepare for the Festival

Amherstburg is “gearing” up to take a blast from the past. Every Fall season, at The Amherstburg Uncommon Festival, you will see amazing costumes resembling the likes of Victorian Steampunk as well as Harry Potter attire too! To get you prepared, this post will dive into the history of Steampunk, and where it originated from. Additionally, we will also give you some tips and ideas for how to prepare for the Uncommon Festival, so you’re ready to join in on the festivities.

Have you read any Science Fiction books lately? The term, “Steampunk” derived from early science fiction novel writers like Jules Verne and Mary Shelley. Works such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Frankenstein play an important part in the elements of steampunk. The style derives from the 19th century, around the Victorian period. The second thing that is important when learning about the history of Steampunk is the Industrial Revolution. This was a time of new technology and innovation, one of those notably being steam-powered engines, accompanied by colossal metal gears and cogs. Couple the historical charm of the Victorian era with the new-age modernization of science and technology, and you get Steampunk! While Steampunk is set in the 1800s, it didn’t become popular until the 1970s, and was interchangeable with the term, “cyberpunk”. Today, the style is used not just in literature, but in film, art, architecture, and even clothing, which you can show off at Amherstburg Uncommon.

Amherstburg's mayor shows off his Steampunk costume at the Uncommon Festival.
A steampunk cosplaying couple.

For others, think dress shirt and pants, and take it one step up by pairing your dress shirt with a tweed vest. Another great addition to your look would be a set of 19th century goggles or a monocle, giving your outfit both a scientific and old fashion feel. Finally, don’t forget to include those gears! You can add them in very detailed ways, such as adding them to a belt, lacing them through your worker boots, or even fastening them to your hat or headpiece. Put it all together, and you’re ready to take on the town for the Uncommon festival.

Three festival visitors admire an owl on display.

Now your outfit is all ready to go, but what else can you do? Some other ways to prepare is to brush up not only on your Steampunk history (the basics have been covered in this post), but also to get more in touch with science and STEAM activities. The Uncommon Festival will feature a variety of fun science activities for kids and adults alike, showing the fun side of science. Other activities will include falconry, hat making, washboard lessons and many other hands on experiences engaging you in the festival spirit. This fall get ready to be transported back in time, as Amherstburg transforms into a magical world of Steampunk, magic, and innovation. It’s a festival you certainly do not want to miss.

If dressing up in Victorian garments adorned with nuts and bolts sounds exciting to you, then keep reading as we outline some ways to prepare for the Amherstburg Uncommon Festival. First is the preparation of your outfit, as you’ll want to look sharp in your Steampunk attire. For ladies, some may like to wear a skirt and a blouse, or a dress. You can even add a corset to your look for an additional Victorian touch. Lace details are always a great addition. Be sure to top off your attire with a hat, a popular piece from Victorian Britain. You can purchase a hat pre-festival at The Gordon House, Visitor Information Centre in Amherstburg or when you attend the Festival. Another option is to participate in making the hat or fascinator at one of the workshops when at the Uncommon Festival. Please check back for 2023 details at

A woman shows off a Steampunk style tophat.