Resorts & LodgesVacation RentalsDeals & PackagesTravel Guides
List Your Property

Watch City Steampunk Festival: Transport Yourself to a World of Wonder in Waltham

As the home of Bentley and Brandeis Universities, Waltham, Massachusetts, is a thriving creative and cultural hub with something to offer every traveler. The city’s history dates back to 1738 when farmers broke away from the town of Watertown because of disputes over the disbursement of tax receipts. History buffs will love finding out more about the city’s rich history at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation and Waltham Museum. The Watch City also features a unique brand of culture and artistic expression. Those looking to experience the local culture first hand should check out The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis Theater Company, and Reagle Music Theatre.


The Watch City Steampunk Festival is America’s largest outdoor steampunk festival, and it will take place May 12 in Downtown Waltham. Attendees will encounter a steampunk-themed wonderland complete with live music, panel discussions, games, children's area, theatrical performances, and more. A variety of local and regional musicians will perform live on three stages, and a group of buskers will entertain the masses with unique street performances. Panel discussions covering various steampunk related topics will take place at the Waltham Public Library. Those attending with the entire family will love the children's area, which has games, activities, and entertainment for all ages. At the Teapot Races, attendees will see remotely controlled teapots (retrofitted RC cars) competing to set the best time on a challenging obstacle course. This year’s vendor market promises to be bigger and better than ever with more than 70 vendors selling everything from artisan foods to handmade jewelry. To get a complete look at the event’s activities, visit their event schedule page. interviewed Lead Organizer, Melissa Honig to learn more about this steampunk extravaganza.


RAL: Tell me a little bit about the event.

MH: Steampunk is a literary and artistic movement that melds elements of Victorian-era history and fashion with modern technology and fantastical fiction. What if the seminal science fiction adventures of authors Jules Verne and H.G. Wells described our world today? What if we could fly in airships, sail in submarines like the Nautilus, and enjoy a good cup of tea while we're at it? The Watch City Steampunk Festival combines the fantasy of Steampunk with Waltham's industrial history to provide a day of family-friendly fun, and it's all free!


RAL: How long has the event been running?

MH: The first steampunk event took place in 2010, and we've run every year since then except for 2014.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

MH: We estimate that 10,000 people come throughout the day.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract?

MH: All kinds! The event is great for families, taking place the Saturday of Mother's Day weekend.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

MH: We are a completely free event offering a mix of music, theater, circus performance, real history, and wacky steampunk shenanigans.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

MH: Please note that this is an outdoor festival which will take place rain or shine, and in May in Massachusetts that could mean a beautiful spring day, some leftover chilly weather, or some early summer heat, so check the forecast and dress accordingly. (We do ask the mad scientists who control the weather machines to make sure we have good weather on Festival day, but sometimes due to their time traveling adventures they get their dates mixed up.)


RAL: What activities will attendees encounter?

MH: Check out the musical performances on one of our three stages, and keep an eye out for the performing buskers. Take in a panel discussion over at the Waltham Public Library, then tour one of our local museums. Bring your kids over to check out our children's activities. Watch the Teapot Races, join the Parade, check out one of our theatrical performances, or enjoy a picnic on Waltham Common. Be sure to browse our incredible selection of vendors and find a unique gift for Mother's Day! Then gather at the Gazebo for the big circus-themed finale at the end of the day.


RAL: What will attendees find for dining options?

MH: During the day we have food trucks available on site. For dinner, Waltham offers a variety of restaurants along Moody Street.


RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?

MH: A wacky alternate universe where ladies, gentlemen, and gentlebeings in top hats and goggles gather for entertainment and adventure. But you don't need to dress up to attend the event, travelers from all historical timelines are welcome.


RAL: Are there any lodging specials that are set up for the event?

MH: We have made arrangements with the Holiday Inn Express at 385 Winter Street in Waltham for a special rate.


Group Name: 2018 Watch City Steampunk Festival

Dates Group discount is available: May 10 – 13, 2018

Group Rate: $119.00 plus 11.7% occupancy tax per night

Cutoff Date: 4/19/18

Follow the Link for more information.


If you do not want to book online, please contact the reservations office at (877) 213-6796 to make a reservation. You must state the name of our group, 2018 Watch City Steampunk Festival, to receive the discounted rate. If you require any special room accommodations, you must indicate that at the time of making the reservation. If you would like to reserve dates that are not included in the group block, or you have any questions about making a reservation, please contact Mike Whiteman at (781) 419-0985. Please note that the hotel is not adjacent to the Festival area.


RAL: What does this event mean to the community?

MH: This festival is sponsored by the Downtown Waltham Partnership (DWP), whose goal is a downtown that is friendly, diverse, safe, sustainable, and thriving. To accomplish this, DWP promotes the downtown as a vibrant cultural, retail, and entertainment destination reflecting the best of this diverse community.


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

MH: Yes, the restaurant scene in particular. Our event ends at 5:00 p.m. and we hope people will have themselves an excellent dinner at one of our local establishments.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

MH: You'll see performances from independent artists, encounter people with amazing props and costumes, learn a little bit of history, and spend the day in our little alternate universe. It's not your standard street festival!


For more information about the Watch City Steampunk Festival, please visit the event website.

Photography Credit: Coelynn McIninch