2014 Summer Waterside Festivals and Boat Gatherings

Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice 2013
Created on 31/03/2014

Photo: Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice, London by Tim Lewis

There are festivals and boat gatherings taking place at the waterside all over the country this summer. Many of the events have a local campaigning theme and most are family orientated with plenty to see and do for all ages.


Canal Fun Day - Indigo Wharf 5th April | Free Admission | Chelmsford, Essex
Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation
An afternoon of activities by the canalside celebrating the re-development of the wharf for public use and the official opening of a specially designed sculptural seating for Indigo Wharf. There will be boat trips, free art activities, a treasure trail, free refreshments and live music.

Easter Boat Gathering and Sea Shanty Festival 18th – 21st April | Ellesmere Port, Cheshire
Shropshire Union Canal
The event will feature shanty singers, shanty concerts, demonstrations of traditional crafts, lectures, book stalls, lock demonstrations, battle of the tugs, boaters games and a tour of the museum’s Heritage Boatyard.

Historic Narrow Boat Club Easter Gathering 18th - 21st April | Foxton, Leicestershire
Grand Union Canal - Leicester Section
The event includes speakers, a boat parade, films, craft stalls, live music, a bell ringing demonstration and an Easter Egg Hunt.


St Richard's Festival 2nd – 5th May | Vines Park, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire
Droitwich Barge Canal
A full weekend of family fun and entertainment

Braunston Boat Gathering 2nd – 5th May | Braunston, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal
The event will include a barbeque, live music and light-hearted games.

Norbury Canal Festival 3rd – 5th May | Norbury Junction, Stafford, Staffordshire
Shropshire Union Canal
Attractions will include boat trips on the canal, a fairground and bouncy castle and a WI tea stall.

IWA Canalway Cavalcade 3rd – 5th May | Free Admission Little Venice, London
Junction of Grand Union Canal and Regent's Canal
Canalway Cavalcade is a unique waterways and community festival. There will be fun for all the family with a boaters’ gathering, a pageant of boats, trade shows and stalls, bands, kids’ activities, competitions, Morris Dancers, a real ale bar, a wide variety of snacks and food.

Skipton Waterway Festival 3rd – 5th May | Skipton, North Yorkshire
Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Canal boat festival with a theme of Le Tour De France Grand Depart for this year. There will be various types of entertainment and stalls from craft stalls, traditional painted ware stalls, various food and drink stalls, charity stalls, children's activities, rides and much more.

Les Allen Register Boat Gathering 9th – 11th May | Oldbury, West Midlands
Titford Canal
The Les Allen Register will be having their 10th Gathering at Titford Pump House.

Titford Pump House Boat Rally 17th - 18th May | Oldbury, West Midlands
Titford Canal
Birmingham Canal Navigations Society annual rally, centred around the historic Titford Pump House.

Rickmansworth Festival 17th - 18th May | Rickmansworth Hertfordshire
Grand Union Canal
An array of canal boats from across the country, with at least 100 craft of many types and histories moored along the towpath up to four deep. There will be things to do, see and enjoy whatever your interests, and whatever your age.

Moira Canal Festival 17th - 18th May | Moira, West Midlands
Ashby Canal
Moira Canal Festival provides the chance for a brilliant day out in the National Forest, learning about the local heritage and waterways whilst supporting the rennovation of the Ashby Canal. Held by the Moira Furnace, there will be boats, historic re-enactments, live music and much more.

Bollington Historic Boat Gathering 24th - 25th May | Macclesfield, Cheshire
Macclesfield Canal
Historic narrowboats will be moored around Adelphi Mill. Come and see this colourful spectacle bring the canal to life.

IWA Trailboat Festival 2014 24th - 26th May | Devon
Grand Western Canal
The 2014 IWA National Trailboat Festival is to be held at the Grand Western Canal Country Park. There will be a big public festival day held at the Mid-Devon Showground on Saturday 24th May, with a range of live music, performers and entertainments, all with a birthday party theme.   

Crick Boat Show 24th - 26th May | Crick, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal - Leicester Section
The annual event, which attracts over 25,000 visitors, is organised by Waterways World in partnership with the Canal & River Trust and Crick Marina.

Etruria Canals Festival 31st May - 1st June | Free Admission | Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Junction of the Trent and Mersey and Caldon canals
The free festival will bring the canals of Stoke-on-Trent alive with a historic boat parade, beer tent, music, lots of activities for children, vintage cars, boat trips and displays from Foxfield Railway and the Middleport Pottery.

Audlem RNLI Festival 31st May - 1st June | Nantwich, Cheshire
Shropshire Union Canal
Includes Irish dancing, live music, the RNLI Bar, Raft Race, a Tug of War, Cheshire Fire & Rescue demonstrations, Police and Police Divers, historic narrowboat Saturn, boat hire and ownership advice, Cheshire Cat training mini-sessions, coarse fishing classes, tractor and pony rides, falconry, dog agility, great food and lots of activities for everybody.


IWA National Campaign Festival 6th - 8th June | Chester, Cheshire
River Mersey
The Festival will be a very colourful event with over a hundred decorated visiting craft, live music, entertainment and children's activities - so something for everyone. The aim will be to promote the use of the neglected Dee Branch arm of the Shropshire Union Canal with a future 'Vision' of a lock in the old mill race at the end of the weir, thus giving visiting boats access to the River Dee up to Farndon.

Leicester Riverside Festival 7th - 8th June | Free Admission | Leicester, Leicestershire
River Soar
Highlights on the river include boats, canoe demonstrations, boat trips and the popular arts & craft street market plus a variety of tempting food stalls. On land the festival continues to build on its reputation for great live music. There is plenty to entertain the whole family including children’s activities, arts & crafts, music and a children’s funfair in Bede Park.

Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival 13th - 15th June | Free Admission | Middlewich, Cheshire
Trent & Mersey Canal
Up to 15 venues on the canalside and in the town centre, hosting music and dance from lunchtime on Friday through to Sunday night. The event includes a narrow boat gathering, heritage boats, live music acts from around Europe and craft stalls.

Stoke Bruerne Family Festival 14th - 15th June | Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal
Celebrating our canal heritage. A weekend festival on and off the water for all the family with theatre, live music, bar, trade show, beer festival, canal crafts and much more.

Droitwich Spa Festival | 20th June - 6th July | Droitwich, Worcestershire
Droitwich Barge Canal
This year’s Droitwich Spa Festival features a fantastic programme of local food and drink, music and arts events in the historic salt town. It takes place in the town centre and pubs, clubs and venues around town and offers great entertainment for both local residents and visitors.

Foxton Locks Festival 21st - 22nd June | Foxton, Leicestershire
Grand Union Canal - Leicester Section
Following the success of last year's Foxton Locks Festival, it is back! Organisers are well underway planning another festival weekend.

Chesterfield Canal Festival 28th - 29th June | Chesterfield, Derbyshire
Chesterfield Canal
There will be three tripboats in action as well as an entertainment marquee, children’s rides, canoeing, zorbing, a climbing wall, dozens of stalls and lots of food and drink including a real ale bar.

Braunston & Historic Narrowboats Rally & Canal Festival 28th - 29th June | Free Admission | Braunston, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal
Over 80 historic boats gather and take part in parades for visitors to the festival. There will also be a real ale beer tent, exhibitors, traders & waterways artists, an open air Songs of Praise church service on Sunday, live music from bands & groups, Morris dancing, fast food and a theatrical presentation.

Thwaite Mills Boat Gathering 27th - 29th June | Leeds, West Yorkshire
Aire & Calder Navigation
There'll be plenty to do and see at Thwaite Mills Museum, including heritage and historic craft, childrens' activities, stalls, refreshments and free boat trips.

Leeds Waterfront Festival 28th - 29th June | Leeds, West Yorkshire
Aire & Calder Navigation, Leeds & Liverpool Canal
A festival that promises to be fun with free boat trips, live music, a dragon boat race, a range of canal boats, working boats and other traditional boats and much more to explore.

Lymm Historic Transport Day 29th June | Lymm, Cheshire
Bridgewater Canal
A fantastic event with historic vehicles of every description including historic working boats, vintage and veteran cars, vans and bikes, a bi-plane fly-past and steam engines; entertainments, scrumptious food and traders and activities with a strong 1940s and 50s theme.


Stratford River Festival 4th - 6th July | Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire
River Avon
Music, drinks, entertainment, fireworks, great food and a celebration of 50 years or the Stratford Canal and 40 years of the Upper Avon.

Ware Boat Festival 4th - 6th July | Ware, Hertfordshire
River Lee
With events including a welcoming barbecue for visiting boaters, the annual Ware Carnival and Town Fair, boat handling competition, a frivolous quiz evening, a teddy bear's picnic, it promises to be another weekend not to be missed.

Cosgrove Canal Festival and Craft Fair | 19th - 20th July | Cosgrove, Milton Keynes
Grand Union Canal
All are welcome to come and see historic narrowboats, Saturday night music, stalls, trade boats and extra tables available in Cosgrove Village Hall.

Newbury Waterways Festival 25th - 27th July | Newbury, Berkshire
Kennet & Avon Canal
This year's theme will be “Viking Invasion”. Boat trips will be available all weekend. Includes a duck race along the river stalls, sideshows, live entertainment and refreshment outlets.

Audlem Festival of Transport 27th July | Audlem, Cheshire
Shropshire Union Canal
The Audlem Festival of Transport will host more than 300 vintage cars, vans, trucks and buses on the festival parade from Hankelow to Audlem. In addition, a record number of vintage canal boats are expected at the Audlem Warf next to Audlem Mill and the Shroppie Fly.


200th Anniversary Celebration of Crick Tunnel and Wharf 9th August | Crick, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal - Leicester Section
Highlights include a cavalcade of boats, boat trips through the tunnel, horse boat demonstrations, trading boats, children’s events, demonstrations of canal crafts, talks on local canal “heroes”, displays of the canal’s construction and history, food, music and beer.

Blisworth Canal Festival 9th - 10th August | Free Admission | Blisworth, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal
Featuring boat trips, work boats, bar, food, live music, stalls, vintage caravans, tractors, children’s fairground, trampolines, companion dog show, WWII re-enactors and so much more. There will be pony rides, a rare breed farmyard, rural craft demonstrations, a have-a-go bell tower, art gallery, traction engine and vintage vehicles, Open Gardens (Sunday only), antiques, parrots and owls.

Saul Waterways Pageant 23rd - 25th August| Free Admission | Saul Junction, Gloucestershire
Junction of the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal and Stroudwater Navigation
The event will focus on waterway activities with a programme of competitions including boat handling, canoeing, tug of war, Best Boat in Bloom, illuminated boat display, best kept engine room. The event will showcase  the diversity of interests on and around the waterways. Activities will also include walking, fishing, cycling and Geocaching. 


Withymoor Island Boat Gathering 5th - 7th September | Netherton, West Midlands
Dudley Canal
Boaters weekend. Entertainment, bar and boaters games. Cowboy and Indian theme with prizes for the best dressed couple.

Shackerstone Family Festival 6th - 7th September | Burbage, Leicestershire
Ashby Canal
A full weekend of entertainment, real ale bar, classic vehicles, steam on road, rail and water, evening entertainment, air displays, historic boats. There will also be trade and craft stalls.

Maesbury Canal Festival 6th - 7th September | Maesbury Marsh, Shropshire
Montgomery Canal
Decorated and trading boats, craft stalls and demonstrations, great music and great food, children's activities. A great family weekend.

Droitwich Spa Salt Festival 13th - 14th September | Droitwich, Worcestershire
Droitwich Barge Canal
Two days of entertainment for all the family in Vines Park.

Black Country Boating Festival 13th - 14th September | Netherton, West Midlands
Dudley Canal
Boat gathering and community festival held in the Bumble-Hole Nature Reserve.

Village at War Weekend 13th - 14th September | Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire
Grand Union Canal
A canal village goes to war. 1940s re-enactment with Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly-past, living history groups, tanks and vintage vehicles, black market traders, live music and much more.

Wey River Festival 26th - 27th September | Free Admission | Guildford, Surrey
River Wey
A new look boat gathering with boats moored around Dapdune Wharf for the weekend.  The illuminated pageant at dusk will light up the river. 

Parkhead Festival 26th  - 28th September | Free Admission | Dudley, West Midlands
Dudley Canal
A boating Festival with entertainment.


Banbury Canal Day 5th October | Free Admission | Banbury
Oxford Canal
Explore the canal with commercial boats, water taxis, engine and boat displays and a blacksmith all at work. There will be entertainment, food and drink, a free folk concert, trade stalls, falconry, a real ale bar and fairground.

Tags: Boating, Things to Do