TAKE a day trip to Llangollen this weekend and you might not know if you've gone back in time or headed into the future.

Women wearing Victorian gowns, corsets, petticoats and bustles and men sporting suits with vests, coats, top hats, and spats might suggest you've headed back to the 19th century. But then what's with the high tech goggles, the bionic limbs, and the modified mobile phones?

Welcome to 'Steampunk' - a science fiction genre and fashion movement which looks to combine Victorian era aesthetics with a love of futuristic technology, gizmos and gadgets.

Llangollen has become something of a focal point for the fad with this weekend's Cogwarts Spring Term Event following on from similarly themed days in the town last year and this May, organisers are promising all sorts of steampunk-themed activities steam train rides to seances and a Saturday evening concert "featuring Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer, Alice's Night Circus and the naughty Lady Violet Hugh".

If you're still confused as to what 'steampunk' actually is you wouldn't be alone. The line between steampunk and period Victorian is narrow and smudged leaving much open to interpretation.

"It is defined as retro-futuristic nonsense," laughs organiser Fiona Maher – known as ‘Tink’. "If people really push me I describe it as Victorian science fiction - imagine their technology not being based on electronics but steam and clockwork and that's why we incorporate all the cogs.Think of a laptop in a mahogany cabinet with typewriter keys - we delight in a strong aesthetic!"

Think of authors like HG Wells and Jules Verne and you have writers imagining all sorts of modern technology such as submarines, space travel and aircrafts. However, a glance at Captain Nemo's Nautilus or Wells' time machine and it's clear their fantasies looked very different from how these technologies have developed in reality. The emphasis on steam references an industrial world built on steam power and this idea of reimagining the present or future as the Victorians would have - often with a dystopian mindset - is at the core of much of steampunk's philosophy.

"There are lots of sub-groups too," explains Tink. "You have cowboys, pirates and evil punk which is very post-apocalyptic - it really celebrates ordinary people's ability to be creative and put together these incredible outfits."

Musically, the movement is even more vague with steampunk acts talk of "mixing Victorian elements and modern elements” doing little to explain a genre which can combine industrial sounds reminiscent of gears and machinery with with swing orchestras and ukuleles.

"We've got two of the main musical rivals of steampunk, Professor Elemental and Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer and they have had a very long-running and tongue in cheek feud," says Tink.

"They both perform what's called 'chap hop' that mixes hip hop with stereotypical English obsessions such as cricket, tea and the weather - it's very funny."

As well as the music and costumes, Tink confirmed there will be stalls at Llangollen station and a bar on the train, tea pot racing and much more.

"We're expecting hundreds of people to attend and I'm confident it's an event that will grow and grow," she says. "It's ridiculously inclusive: if you're disabled you pimp your wheelchair and if you have a false arm you're already one up on the rest of us because we're all wearing them too.

"It's for all ages too and the reaction we've had from the townsfolk in Llangollen has been great - they've turned up and gone 'wow'."

The two key items for a steampunk costume is the use of the gear and goggles. The gear represents the machinery it enables; an ode to technology and its capabilities. The goggles reference steampunk’s fascination with travel; air travels, submarines and motor vehicles all require goggles. So what will Tink herself be wearing?

"I'm well known for my pith helmet," she adds. "It has a mechanical, copper octopus perched on top and then of course I'll have something very swishy and Victorian looking along with a corset and lots of medals.

"We hope it's not quite as hot as last weekend otherwise it can get like human 'Buckaroo' with all the ironmongery we have to take off - it's a lot of layers!"

Cogwarts Spring Term Steampunk event takes place at Llangollen Train Station on May 12-13. For more information and tickets go to www.llangollen-railway.co.uk