Watch City Steampunk Festival

Centered on Waltham’s beautiful Common at the corner of Main and Moody Streets, the Watch City Steampunk Festival is the great outdoor festival of the Steampunk genre—a cultural and social movement melding elements of Victorian-era history and fashion with retro-futuristic technology.

Watch City 2015 will featuring a broad array of theatrical and musical performers as well as clothing, jewelry, art, and food vendors. The Festival is will also include kids programming, making this most definitely a family friendly event, as well.

Vending at the W C S F
Frequently Asked Questions:

A comprehensive overview of information and topics of value to anyone with interest in participating as a vendor at the Watch City Steampunk Festival™.

Please click below to be taken to each topic.

Photographs by Babs Who Takes Pictures (2018 Official Photographer)

Photographs by Babs Who Takes Pictures (2018 Official Photographer)

What is the Watch City Steampunk Festival?

Since 2010, the Watch City Steampunk Festival has brought members of the steampunk community together with the public to a gathering for Spring day of steampunk-themed entertainment, vendors, food and more. Presented by The Downtown Waltham Partnership, it is America’s largest outdoor steampunk festival, with over 10,000 attendees, of all age groups, each year. Usually held on the Saturday of Mother’s Day weekend in May, on Waltham Common and throughout the city center, the outdoor festivities run from 10AM to 5PM.

And just what is "steampunk"?

Steampunk is a science fiction sub-genre that imagines a fantastical, “what-if” world using Victorian era technology, fashion, and settings as its springboard. Think Jules Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” and the works of H.G. Wells and you have an inkling of where “steampunk” gets its inspiration.

photo: Alex Mancini Photo

photo: Alex Mancini Photo

How do you decide which vendors are accepted to participate each year?

The Watch City Steampunk Festival vendors are vetted via a juried selection process, in which many factors are considered.

  • QUALITY, of course, is always the paramount consideration.

  • A STEAMPUNK OR VICTORIAN THEME is one of the primary (though not always mandatory) things we look for when making our selections. We also want this to be as special as possible for the attendees, granting them a chance to shop things they can’t easily find elsewhere, even online.

  • UNIQUENESS AND ORIGINALITY are key factors as well. As a result, we lean heavily toward the craft/artisan vendor as this also helps to represent the creative spirit that is at the heart of steampunk.

  • ATTRACTIVE PRESENTATION of product is important and why we ask to see a picture of your typical booth display.

  • VARIETY. While we love steampunk jewelry, we would not want a festival too laden with jewelry vendors, or anything else. Therefore, we try to have a varied selection of things for sale.

Do not, however, hesitate to apply even if you’re not sure if you’re steampunk-appropriate. Some vendors have never heard of steampunk and yet fit the theme in ways they never realized!


To provide the best experience for our attendees, each year we start afresh with our considerations, and while there are many vendors who are accepted many years in a row, PRIOR PARTICIPATION IS NOT A GUARANTEE OF FUTURE ACCEPTANCE.

Waltham Common is really big–why do you limit the number of vendors you have when it looks like there’s still space?

Yes, it does seem like we have a lot of areas where we could, conceivably, fit more vendors and their tents, but there are a number of factors as to why we limit vendors to roughly 75 each year:

    Much of the Common is sloped or uneven and not hospitable to tables and displays being set up safely.

    We have experimented, with little success, with placing vendors off of the paved pathways that criss-cross the Common. As a result, we refrain from positioning vendors off of the pathways.

    There are a number of laws and regulations at various levels that limit how many tents may be placed in a certain square footage area, as well as other requirements which we must follow.

    We have only a few hours in the morning to receive vendors, direct them to their selected spots, and allow them to unload and set up. As they are not allowed to drive up onto the Common (more on that later!) they must unload and move their wares from curbside points around the Common.

    In an effort to not impede traffic any more than necessary, and to provide the most practical and efficient load-in, we cannot, no matter how much we wish we could, allow for more vendors–and therefore, more vehicles–at this point in time.

What about food vending?

Of course, we accept food vendors! We have over 10,000 mouths to help feed on festival day! However, this is a separate process from the artisan/craft vendors (the exception being non-service, gift-style foods such as artisan candies, teas, packaged condiments, etc., not specifically designed to be consumed on site*).

*Any and all vendors selling food products must be permitted by the Waltham Health Department.

What are the fees for vending?

The Vendor fees for 2019 were $120 for a single space and $220 for a double:

Photographs by Babs Who Takes Pictures (2018 Official Photographer)

Photographs by Babs Who Takes Pictures (2018 Official Photographer)

2020 Vendor fees will be announced when applications open
November 2019

What is the schedule for the vendor selection process?

If you have not vended with the Festival before and would like to be on the announcement mailing list, please send your email, full name, and business name to: Include “Put me on your vendor email list” in your email subject line for a guarantee that we will add you promptly.

For the 2020 Watch City Steampunk Festival, the Vendor Schedule is:

November 1, 2019 – Vendor Applications OPEN 

January 31, 2020 – Vendor Applications CLOSE

(applications received after this date but before February 7, 2020 will be wait listed)

February 7, 2020 – Wait list Applications CLOSE

(ALL applications received after this date will be added to the email list for 2020)

February 15, 2020 – Vendor notices of acceptance or non-acceptance emailed on or before this date

March 1, 2020 – Deadline for receipt of vendor payments and contracts for accepted vendors

• April 30, 2020 – Deadline for Food Vendors to have obtained full Waltham Health Department permit approval (food trucks may also require additional WFD permits)

May 3, 2020 – Vendor arrival information emailed on or before this date

• Watch City Steampunk Festival 2020- DATE TO BE ANNOUNCED SOON

I have never vended at the festival before. What do I need to consider when applying and what should I expect if I am accepted?

photo: Coelynn McInnich

photo: Coelynn McInnich

Setting up for vending at the Watch City Steampunk Festival has many similarities to vending at other festivals, but also some important differences as well. If you have never vended with us before and have never attended the Festival either, the vendors are grouped over approximately a third of the Waltham Common grounds. Below are some of the expectations and requirements that you can expect and that we expect of our vendors. We hope that the information provided can help clarify any questions you might have before applying.





Please note that the following information is subject to change at any time and without notice.


Each vendor has a 10 X 10 space (multiple spaces can be purchased, but must be requested at the time of application, as space is limited), with at least 4 feet of space between you and your neighboring vendor. Vendors are placed along the many pathways and sidewalks on the Common and with consideration for the flattest areas possible. We attempt, where possible, to accommodate any special requests, such as proximity to another vendor. However, spaces are assigned and marked out to conform with various regulations, and laws for safe spacing and arrangement. We do NOT give out position information in advance of the day of the festival.


Tents are not required, but, as this is an outdoor festival and in New England, the day’s weather can be unpredictable, even from hour to hour. We have had festival days with some degree of rain, with pounding hot sun, and with chilly wind (sometimes all in one festival!). So, the shelter of a tent can be useful and is recommended. You are responsible for providing your own tents or canopies. We do not provide any tents nor do we have any available for rent. 

One important consideration should be made with regards to tents: Per order of the Mayor of Waltham, the use of any tent stakes on the Common is strictly forbidden.* 

As a result, we require the use of weight in the amount of 40 lbs per tent leg as a mandatory safety measure against wind. These may be sandbags, tent weights discs or secured 5 gallon buckets of water and water is available on the Common for filling your buckets.

*The use of ANY tent stakes on the Common may result in a ban from future festivals.

Please understand that these are not decisions we can make any exceptions for and are orders directly from the Mayor of Waltham.


You are responsible for bringing your own table and chairs. We do not provide these to you, nor do we have any available for rent.


There is electricity available on the Common in limited areas. Should you require it, we will do everything within our ability to place you with access to these outlets. You will be required to bring your own extension cords which must be of a high visibility color (such as orange), and in good shape. 

photo: Alex Mancini Photo

photo: Alex Mancini Photo


There is a gazebo at the center of the Common which is the primary performance space for the musical acts we have throughout the day. We avoid positioning anyone directly in front of the gazebo for both vendor and spectator comfort and convenience. You may, however,  be next to advertising sponsors promoting their products, or food carts or tents selling tasty stuff.

We attempt to provide ample spectator space for any other performers or activities placed throughout the Common, sufficiently away from the vendors and to give your shoppers room to shop so you can make as much money as possible!


The Waltham Common is a grass and tree covered park, approximately 500 X 500 feet square with numerous paved walkways. It is bound on four sides by two major (Moody Street to the West and Main Street to the North) high-traffic roadways, one medium-traffic roadway (Elm Street to the East) and one street closed to traffic for the day for festival use (Carter Street to the South). 

For ease, traffic, and safety, load in has both assigned windows of time and in assigned locations around the Common. Per order of the Mayor, no vehicles may be driven onto the Common.* As a result, load in must be done across the Common grounds via the walkways and, to a limited extent, across the grass. Vendors should attempt to unload their vehicles as efficiently as possible, park their vehicles in a timely manner, and return to set up in order to allow others to do the same.

*The driving of ANY vehicle onto the grounds of the Common during load IN or load OUT may result in an ban from future festivals. Other penalties from the City may be incurred as well. Please understand these are not decisions we can make exceptions for and are orders directly from the Mayor of Waltham.

While we attempt to provide some support in terms of carts and volunteers, vendors should not and cannot rely upon this expectation too heavily on Festival morning.


The same restrictions and requirements for load in apply to load out. Again, no vehicles may be driven onto the Common. All vendors are required to be able to vend until the closing time of 5PM. We ask that you do not start breaking down your tent or wares prior to the Festival closing time. We are requested by the City of Waltham to vacate the park by 7PM, so please observe and respect this time frame. You are expected to remove all trash, debris, and items from your vending space are. There is a trash dumpster placed at the Common for your use should you have anything that you do not wish to take with you. Your vendor space should be left as clean and tidy as it was when you arrived. 


Located near the middle of the Common, the Circle is a monument dedicated to all the brave men and women who have served our Country during both peacetime and war. It is strictly OFF LIMITS during the Festival day, especially during load in and load out. Absolutely no dollies, carts, or any other moving devices should be brought through the circle, so that its commemorative markers are not damaged, nor those honored therein be shown disrespect.


Barring a change to permissions granted in the past to the Festival by the City of Waltham, we are able to provide to our festival participants, including vendors, a limited number of nearby parking spaces in city-maintained parking lots free of charge for the day of the Festival. These are, however, first come, first serve, and when they are gone, we recommend attempting to find parking in one of the many nearby, and exceedingly reasonably priced, public lots. 


There will be, of course, festival food vendors. In addition, Waltham has a thriving restaurant scene with much of these fine establishments being in close proximity to the Common.

We realize, however, that many of you work with no assistants and leaving your tent is impossible. In the past, we have arranged for a selection of tasty sandwiches from one of our local restaurants to be made available at a discounted price to our vendors. Orders and payment are taken by our volunteers in late morning, with delivery to your booths in the early afternoon. We hope and expect to continue to offer this service at future Festivals.


Smoking is permitted on the Common, but it is strictly prohibited within the confines of your tent. Please dispose of all cigarette butts in a safe, appropriate, and considerate fashion. Please respect those around you when smoking.

photo: Coelynn McInnich

photo: Coelynn McInnich


Waltham Common is a public area and subject to State and local laws. Alcohol consumption is strictly forbidden on the Common.


We love animals at the Festival. You’ll see many people walking their dogs, even cats (and sometimes more exotic animals!) at the Festival. We welcome you to bring your noble beasts for the day, provided they are well behaved, not a nuisance to others (especially your fellow vendors), and that you clean up after them.


Updated 2018-03-12

All vendors will be required to abide by our Code of Conduct.

We ask that you be considerate and respectful of all Festival attendees, fellow vendors, performers and staff. Please refrain from use of obscenities or foul language, as this is a family-friendly event. Please respect the requests of Festival staff and supervisors, and representatives of the City of Waltham, especially the Waltham Police and Fire Department.

Additionally, we expect that all merchandise, wares and trade practices conform to all federal, state, and local laws and legal requirements and all requirements and restrictions of the Watch City Steampunk Festival.


The Watch City Steampunk Festival is all about having a good time, and that should apply to you, the vendors, as well. While not absolutely required, the Festival definitely encourages participating vendors to attempt to dress the part for the day. Even something as simple as a top hat, vest and some goggles can add enough steampunk flair to help you seem as special as your wares to potential customer at the Festival. As noted above, we love a well designed booth display and a fun and unique presentation doesn’t just sell the public on you, it helps let us know that you’re enjoying yourself and helping to make the Watch City Steampunk Festival something truly special for everyone!


We appreciate your interest in vending at the Watch City Steampunk Festival!
We hope that this information has been helpful in knowing more about the Festival vending experience!

If you have any further questions not answered here, please let us know at:

photo: Coelynn McInnich

photo: Coelynn McInnich