What is Steampunk?
And why it's such a HUGE DEAL in downtown Hannibal.
Steampunk can be a vague notion to pin down. Some will tell you it has something to do with gears.. lots of gears.. Some will tell your to watch movies like, Sherlock Holmes, Wild Wild West, or The Greatest Showman. How do the Wild West, London, and a Circus all mix together to make Steampunk? With so much crossover it's easy to get a little lost in the Steampunk vision.
Steampunk is a genre of science fiction that combines historical elements with technology and aesthetics elements inspired by 19th century steam-powered machinery.
What does this all have to do with the land of Twain? The Hannibal History Museum founded the Big River Steampunk Festival six years ago to be held each year on Labor Day Weekend. Each year the festival attracts thousands of guests to immerse themselves in the Steampunk persona. The Hannibal History Museum was also the recipient of the 2018 Pathfinder Award at the Missouri Governor’s Conference on Tourism.
What can you expect from Big River Steampunk Festival?
The Big River Steampunk Festival is unusual compared to other Steampunk festivals and conventions. Most Steampunk Festivals take place in convention centers in major metro areas. Big River Steampunk draws from the historic ambience of downtown Hannibal turning the whole downtown an immersive Steampunk cosplay environment. Prepare yourself for a thrilling and unique Steampunk experience!
This Festival is one of the newest festivals to downtown Hannibal, just in its 6th year in 2019, but it is now one of the most popular! Big River Steampunk Festival attracts almost 10,000 guests to historic downtown Hannibal many of whom will be decked out in full Steampunk Style & Fashion. One of the most entertaining parts of the festival is meeting and viewing the creativity of the participants.
Best of all, general admission to the Big River Steampunk Festival is FREE TO ALL and many of the events, contests and performances are FREE and open to the public, including The Great Midway - featuring more than fifty Steampunk merchants from around the country.
Incredible Steampunk Costumes, Fashion, and Characters
Many of the costumes at Big River Steampunk Festival are hand crafted by dedicated Steampunkers. Stroll pedestrian-only Main Street amongst authentic 1840s buildings and enjoy Steampunk costumery at its finest. Though costumes are not technically required, we strong recommend you try it!
Each year a free costume contest is held for all participants and this year there will be not one, but three costume contests! And if you have an extra special beard or set of whiskers there is a free facial hair contest for you as well!
Premium World Class Steampunk Entertainment & Musicians
Big River Steampunk Festival hosts high quality entertainers and shows. Don’t miss The Crimson Ball & Fashion Show Explosion! Watch as the fashions of yesterday's future take center stage in the Fashion Explosion show - courtesy of the Big River Steampunk Festival's impressive lineup of costuming vendors and 'makers'. St. Louis’ Premier Jump Blues Band, Sweetie & The Toothaches will have you stomping your feet and shaking your hips when you hear powerhouse vocalist and band leader Emilie “Sweetie” Richard belt out tunes such as “Farewell Blues” and “Bigger Fool” alongside her phenomenal Toothaches.
This year also features TWO riverboat cruises!
Scoundrels & Shysters Cruise on Saturday, August 31st at 8:40pm. You can't spell 'confidence' without 'con,' and Mr. Thom Bedlam has plenty to spare! His sleight of hand and deceptive antics are entertaining - as long as your pockets don't feel lighter by the end of the cruise. Listen to the early jazz, blues, and pop stylings of the Ragged Blade Band as you enjoy the 90 minute moonlight cruise on the Mississippi River, either in the Victorian dance saloon or on your choice of the outside open air decks at the Mark Twain Riverboat.
The Vanhelsing Cruise on Sunday, September 1st at 8:40pm. As if the adventure of the river weren't enough, add to that a cosplay mystery involving those creatures that thrive in the night! Swing the night away with Van Helsing and the Ragged Blade Band on this moonlight cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat.
This year also features the ‘Twilight Elemental Circus’ at the Jaycees Tanyard Gardens on Sunday, September 1st at 7pm- behold as skilled performers master the powers of the four elements! See acrobatic feats of defying gravity! Marvel at the taming of the flames! Carly, Allison, Violet, and leader Moxie Dynamite create an aerial ballet, with additional performances so daring, you would swear they were playing with fire (ahem.)
The Great Midway
Moved to Historic Main Street for 2019 Festival
Steampunk Merchants from all over the world will be set up in the historic setting of Main Street where Steampunk enthusiasts can stroll casually and take in wares of veteran, seasoned Steampunk Merchants. Stop by their booths and learn all about their Steampunk life! View merchant list and map here.
A sport that is equally enjoyable for children and adults alike, but Steampunk-ified! Turn those Nerf Guns into Steampunk machinery with all the gears, bells, and whistles and get ready for Nerf Dueling!
Historic Main Street Parade
The parade begins on Saturday of the festival and kicks off the celebration! View all the glory of Steampunk Fashion as amazing characters parade down Historic Main Street. If you are decked out in Steampunk Style feel free to join the parade!
Main Street Stage
The Big River Steampunk Festival features free-to-the-public entertainment on the Main Street Stage! Comedians, jugglers, exciting escape artists, rowdy pirates, singers, musicians, dancers and more will thrill and delight audiences of all ages! Presentation of Costume Contests also take place on the Main Street Stage.
Air Ship Village
Dock your Air Ship in Air Ship Village! Big River Steampunk Festival allows guests to book a free space in the Air Ship Village as a place to set up a Steampunk Style tent, pavillion, etc. as a place to regroup and relax during the festival!
For more information on this years Big River Steampunk Festival please visit: