Monday, August 29, 2011

Victoria Steam Exposition: Frequently Asked Questions

Well, alright, some of these haven't been asked at all, let alone frequently.  But they might be.  

Visiting an 1890 castle is not dissimilar to visiting an 1890 person.  Imagine having tea with your great-great-grandma.  There are rules about such things.

The first, most obvious, and prevalent rule is of course "DO NOT DAMAGE YOUR GREAT-GREAT GRANDMA."  Don't do anything or wear anything that will poke her or stab her or scratch her.  She's 121 years old, she's fragile, and she'll break.

That means stilleto heels that could stab her are out.  Backpack contraptions that could inadvertently scratch the woodwork are out.  Fairy wings that can clear off a shelf while you turn around are out.  Projecting buckles.  Parasol tips.  If it's sticking out of you and you can't see it or control it, don't wear it.  

[That being said, if you have something outlandish and articulated and fiendishly dangerous that you want to show off; bring it!  We'll do photo ops on the castle grounds.  Just don't bring it inside.]

Don't scare your great-great-grandmother.  If you inappropriately lean over the display rails, or touch things, she'll scream.  ALARMS WILL SOUND.  You might want to stroke the velvet or poke the fireplace or pick-up the knick-knack, but that's highly improper and she'll ask you to leave.  There are 7,000 irreplaceable artifacts in her collection, and they're not to be rudely prodded.  That's just courtesy.

We're in this amazing heritage space as guests, and it's an incredible privilege to hold this event here.  Please don't make us into the costume police; think ahead: Is this cumbersome? Pokey scratchy stabby? If I nicked the bannister with it going up the stairs, how would I forgive myself?  This is no drywall-wonder suburban con motel.  This is a Victorian castle. We're all in this together to preserve and appreciate this treasure.

Do I have to dress up?

Of course not.  We were ASTONISHED last year when a little over half our attendees chose to come in Steampunk attire.  Lots of people came and saw the art and poked around and asked questions and attended the sessions in jeans and sneakers.  You're perfectly welcome, and it's just fine, honestly.

Costuming Tip: 
There are exactly eleventy bajillion and four sites on the internet to help you get started into dressing like an airship pirate / mad scientist / proper-Victorian-gentleman-or-lady-after-the-"incident", but I'll leave you with a paraphrase of Abney Park's Captain Robert: “Vintage military cuts, antique jewelry and fittings, brown instead of black, bronze instead of silver”.  Vests, pocket watches and cyborg accoutrements, goggles and jetpacks, top hats and bowlers, corsets and rayguns.  The "punk" in steampunk means defining your own style, and there's no way to get it wrong.  Here's Diana's guide to getting started.

Standing Up:
Very very little opportunity to sit down.  Come prepared to be standing up and climbing stairs without predictable respite.


Yes, there'll be a photobooth at the show.  Yes, you can take your own pictures.  Flash is fine.

Wheelchair / Stroller Access:

Unfortunately, the morés of the Victorian era are reflected in the architecture.  There's just no reasonable way to accommodate those who have trouble with stairs.  It's an 1890 castle.  They didn't think about such things.  Not much we can do there.

Food and Beverage:

The castle will be running a bar at the event, and food is served outside by way of History Bites: inexpensive canapés from historic menus of the Victorian period.  There really are no restaurants within easy walking distance.  No outside food or beverage is allowed in the castle.


The castle is 1.7 km (exactly one mile) from the Hotel Rialto in downtown Victoria, usually under a $10 cab ride or a $2.50 bus ride.  Parking at the castle is extremely limited. The address to the Castle is 1050 Joan Crescent and you can download directions here.

We are coordinating a Trolley to bring guests back and forth from the hotel to the Castle over the weekend. A weekend pass is $10 and will be available for purchase at the Hotel's welcome reception Friday September 23rd 8ish pm. This is an excellent deal as it will allow you make several trips back and forth on Saturday (day and evening) and cover your trips on Sunday too. You will need this pass to take advantage of this offer.


Of course supervised children are welcome, and a child under 13 is free when accompanied by one paying adult.  Be mindful that the event is in a museum, where the displays are fragile and valuable, and that the architecture is at times steep, sharp, lethal, and out to get you.  The reason why Victorian children never ran indoors was purely Darwinian - the bouncy ones lost limbs early on.

We have on Sunday a children's costume contest and a supervised children's craft activity where kids can make costume bits or contraptions of all sorts.  This is free, but there'll be a tip jar for the beleagured craftmistress.

Admission & Day Tickets:

As a nod to Victorian machinations, we've decided to make the admission needlessly complicated.

The $40 weekend pass includes unlimited (re-)admission and Saturday evening's festivities.

The castle is open during the event, as it always is, for a $13.75 admission (children are $5).  However this gives you a 90-minute visit, NO in-and-out priveleges (if you go for tea you can't come back in),  and of course it does not include the Saturday night cabaret event.

When you arrive at the event, there will be a "will-call" list for those who have pre-paid admission.  If there are tickets available at the door, these will be sold at the opening of the show.  Be advised that the castle is actually a small venue, and that space is limited – the only way to ensure attendance is to purchase your ticket in advance!  Contact us directly if you need arrangements (ie don't want to purchase online).

*Also if tickets remain, they will be available for purchase at the Welcome Reception at the Hotel Rialto Friday, September 23rd. 8ish pm.

Cabaret Tickets:

Due to space constraints, we are unable to sell tickets for the cabaret only.