Lincoln Steampunk 2023

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Things to do

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August, 2023

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We returned again to the beautiful city of Lincoln to enjoy the International Asylum Steampunk Festival. This takes place over four days and is great fun. There is an amazing display of costumes and intriguing vehicles. I call them “walking works of art”. There are various definitions such as this one: “Steampunk is a creative social movement that draws inspiration from Victorian and pre-war history, in an anachronistic mix of science fiction, modern values and a sense of fun”. Participants walk around the historic area of the city with the main event taking place in the Castle grounds. The other ticketed events took place in the Assembly Rooms, the Engine Shed, the Blue Room and the Drill.

As in previous years we travelled to Lincoln via train. Although we had reserved seats, we found that the trains were more crowded than usual – this was probably due to the planned industrial action meaning that there were less trains available. What is frustrating however is the number of carriages – why only two carriages on an intercity train? Our return journey from Lincoln to Liverpool took 7 hours due to travel disruptions not related to industrial action.

Having said all that, we were not disappointed with our weekend away. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the Brayford Waterfront, the inland harbour at the junction of the River Witham and Britain’s oldest navigable canal the Foss Dyke. As well as boats in the harbour, there are mute swans, geese and ducks. At the waters edge there are pretty plants and rushes.

There are a variety of places to eat and drink in the waterfront area from independent establishments to chain restaurants. Our breakfasts were taken at the Square Sail – a well-kept Wetherspoons. For our evening meal we chose to eat at the Horse & Groom an 18th century English pub full of character. The food was good and there was a selection of real ales from local Lincolnshire breweries. The other place we visited was the Italian styled Prezzo which, in my opinion, was one of the best of this restaurant chain. We also ate at the Toby Carvery just a short walk away within the St Mark’s Shopping Centre which was formerly a railway station with preserved buildings dating back to 1846.

We were disappointed with our visit to the Royal William IV on the quayside. The surroundings were attractive, but they were only serving Tiny Rebel ales, which weren’t to our taste. We preferred the impressive selection at the Cardinals Hat on the upper High Street. The building dates back to the early 15th century.We also visited the Witch & Wardrobe inside a 13th century mediaeval building on the riverside – friendly service but the interior now needs some TLC. We went to The Mailbox on Guildhall Street to watch a specific football match. There were TV screens galore and a great atmosphere – made all the better by a Liverpool FC win! For the beer aficionados Lincoln has a splendid number of characterful pubs.

In previous years we have walked up Steep Hill to enjoy the surroundings of the Cathedral and Castle, but this year we chose to use the bus. The bus station is situated near the railway station and there is a regular service to the higher parts of the city. There was plenty of room to walk around the cathedral area and castle, but the cobbled Market Square with the vintage stalls was packed – and difficult for me to negotiate with my crutches! We enjoyed a sit down in the Cafe within the Castle walls and also inside St Mary Magdalene Church in Bail Gate. On our last day we went into St Mary-le-Wigford’s Church near the station to enjoy a cuppa and buy a couple of hand-crafted items on the charity stall to take home. We thoroughly enjoyed our brief stay in Lincoln for the Steampunk Festival and I would love to return one day and experience all the other cultural attractions in the city and surrounding area.


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