2015 Summer Waterside Festivals and Boat Gatherings

Created on 23/04/2015

The days are getting longer and the weather improving, so with summer just around the corner it’s time to start making plans to get out and about with family and friends. What better way to enjoy some quality time in the great outdoors than beside a canal or river, and with plenty of waterway festivals and boat gatherings planned across England and Wales over the coming months, including IWA's Canalway Cavalcade, Northampton Festival of Water and National Trailboat Festival, there is bound to be an event nearby that all the family can enjoy. Take a look at the selection of waterway festivals and boat gatherings on offer in 2015 and get planning your days out!


Sleaford Navigation Boat Gathering | 1st-4th May

South Kyme Lincolnshire | Sleaford Navigation Trust

An annual informal boat gathering on the Sleaford Navigation. Village events include scarecrow trail, tabletop sale, boaters' church service and best decorated boat competition. Find out more.

St Richard’s Festival | 1st-4th May

Droitwich, Worcestershire | Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society

A four day family event on the Droitwich Barge Canal with live entertainment throughout and a real ale bar open all weekend. Find out more.

IWA’s Canalway Cavalcade | 2nd-4th May

Little Venice, London | IWA

Photo: Canalway Cavavalcade, 2014 (photo by Roger Squires)Photo: Canalway Cavavalcade (photo by Roger Squires)

Canalway Cavalcade is a distinctive waterways boaters' gathering that has been taking place at Little Venice since 1983. Organised by IWA volunteers, this festival at the junction of the Grand Union and Regent’s canals boasts an array of boats, trade show stalls and activities for all to enjoy over the Bank Holiday Weekend; including boating activities, Morris dancing, food stalls, a real ale bar and plenty of activities for the kids. Find out more.

Skipton Waterways Festival | 2nd-4th May

Skipton, North Yorkshire | Pennine Cruisers

This year’s festival on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal has a Nursery Rhymes theme, and as ever there will be various types of entertainment and stalls on site over the weekend to keep all ages busy. Find out more.

Hawne Basin Open Weekend | 9th-10th May

Halesowen, West Midlands | Coombeswood Canal Trust

After a break in 2014 the Hawne Basin Open Weekend is back! It’s a great opportunity to visit Hawne Basin on the Dudley No. 2 Canal with plenty to keep all the family entertained, including boat trips to Gosty Hill Tunnel. Find out more.

Les Allen Boat Gathering | 14th-17th May

Oldbury, Birmingham | Les Allen Register

A boat gathering on the Titford Canal for owners of or those interested in boats built by Les Allen and Sons. Starting with a social on the Thursday evening the group will then join the BCNS rally (see below). Find out more.

Titford Pumphouse Rally & Open Weekend | 15th-17th May

Oldbury, Birmingham | Birmingham Canal Navigation Society (BCNS)

Visit the BCNS boat gathering and open weekend at Titford Pumphouse on the Titford Canal to see stalls and displays from canal societies and other local charities as well as a variety of historic boats. Find out more.

Alvechurch Beer & Boat Festival | 15th-17th May

Alvechurch, Worcestershire | Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society

A three day event on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. There will be plenty of entertainment and a beer festival with over fifty real ales and twenty ciders. Find out more.

Moira Canal Festival | 16th-17th May

Moira, Leicestershire | Ashby Canal Trust

Held on the banks of the restored length of the Ashby Canal, around the historic Grade 2 listed Moira Furnace, there will be a wide range of events and exhibits - something for all the family. Find out more.

Rickmansworth Waterways Festival | 16th-17th May

Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire | Rickmansworth Waterways Trust

This Festival on the Grand Union Canal offers something for all ages and interests, including the chance to see an array of at least 100 canal boats of varying types and histories from across the country. Find out more.

Crick Boat Show | 23rd-25th May

Crick, Northamptonshire | Waterways World

Photo: Crick Boat Show (photo by Time Lewis)Photo: Crick Boat Show (photo by Tim Lewis)

If you are looking to buy a boat or for a family day out, there is lots to see and do at Crick Boat Show on the Grand Union Canal. There will be boats on show, over 200 exhibitors, music, boating seminars, boat trips and children’s rides. Find out more.

Gloucester Tall Ships Festival | 23rd-25th May

Gloucester, Gloucestershire | Marketing Gloucester Ltd.

Gloucester's flagship festival returns to the city this May when impressive tall ships will once again weigh anchor in Gloucester Docks on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal for a weekend of live entertainment and activities for all the family. Find out more.

IWA National Trailboat Festival | 30th May-1st June

Milnthorpe, Cumbria | Lancaster Canal Trust

Photo: Illuminated boat at IWA's 2014 Trailboat Festival on the Grand Western Canal (photo by Geoff Roberts)Photo: Illuminated boat at IWA's 2014 Trailboat Festival on the Grand Western Canal (photo by Geoff Roberts)

IWA's 2015 National Trailboat Festival, which is to be hosted and organised by Lancaster Canal Trust, will take place on the Lancaster Canal at the Westmorland Show Ground as part of the 'Country Fest', an annual canal side event that takes place over the weekend with activities for the whole family. There will be a boaters' day on the Monday with a visit to the Hincaster Tunnel, and hopefully an opening of the restored stretch. Find out more.


Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show | 5th-7th June

Lower Basildon, Berkshire | Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show

A boat show that’s got everything – the opportunity to browse a huge variety of boats, enjoy craft activities with the kids and wander around the Marine Village for some retail therapy, and all in a beautiful spot beside the River Thames. Find out more.

Brandy Wharf Leisure Park’s Waterway Rally & Raft Race | 5th-7th June

Waddingham, Lincolnshire | Mr Godfrey Thacker

An event for anyone who likes fun days out! Held on the River Ancholme, you can enter a raft race, enjoy some games, relax with evening entertainment and make a weekend of it with moorings and caravan and tent pitches available. Find out more.

International Mersey River Festival | 5th-7th June

Liverpool Waterfront, Liverpool | Liverpool City Council

Liverpool’s International Mersey River Festival returns and new for this year is the addition of the Northern Boat Show, plus the usual activities and opportunities to see a huge range of boats on the River Mersey. Find out more.

Worksop Water Day | 6th June

Worksop, Nottinghamshire | CRT, CCT, Angling Trust, FoYPiB, Bassetlaw District Council

Worksop Water Day is a waterside fun day where the general public can take part in activities along the Chesterfield Canal. The activities on offer include boating, canoeing, angling, walking and canal side visitor attractions. Find out more.

Leicester Riverside Festival | 6th-7th June

Leicester, Leicestershire | Leicester City Council

One of Leicester’s biggest free festivals featuring activities on and off the water. Highlights on the River Soar include colourful boats from across the region, canoe demonstrations and boat trips. Find out more.

Worcester Water Festival | 12th-14th June

Worcester, Worcestershire | Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society

Celebrating 200 years of navigation of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. A weekend full of family entertainment and a real ale bar. Find out more.

Longwood Canal Festival | 13th-14th June

Walsall, West Midlands | Longwood Boat Club

The Longwood Canal Festival at Longwood Boat Club on the Rushall Canal will host classic cars, craft stalls, children's games, real ale bar, burgers and hot dogs, vintage working boats, have a go canoes and boat trips. Find out more.

Stoke Bruerne Family Festival | 13th-14th June

Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire | Friends of the Canal Museum

Rampaging Vikings, historic and model boats, clog and Morris dancing, displays of traditional canal crafts, music, theatre, a bustling market and much more will all pay a visit to the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne's Family Festival! Find out more.

Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival | 19th-21st June

Middlewich, Cheshire | Middlewich Town Council

Up to fifteen venues host music and dance from lunchtime on Friday through to Sunday night. On the Trent & Mersey Canal and in the town centre, artists from around the UK (and beyond) perform each day. Find out more.

Braunston Rally & Canal Festival | 27th-28th June

Braunston, Northamptonshire | Braunston Marina

Over 80 historic boats are expected to gather and take part in parades at the rally on the Grand Union Canal. There will also be a real ale tent, exhibitors, traders, an open-air Songs of Praise church service, music and much more. Find out more.

Bridgwater Docks Gala | 28th June

Bridgwater, Somerset | Friends of Bridgwater Docks & Canal

Family fun day at Bridgwater Docks on the Bridgwater & Taunton Canal. There will be stalls, a mini funfair, boat trips on the Canal, displays, food, face painting, competitions, Pulse Radio and lots more! Find out more.


Ware Boat Festival | 3rd-5th July

Ware, Hertfordshire | IWA Lee & Stort Branch

Photo: Ware Boat Festival (photo by Les Hunt)Photo: Ware Boat Festival (photo by Les Hunt)

Organised by IWA Lee & Stort Branch, Ware Boat Festival is a weekend of fun on, in, and around the River Lee and the town. Events include the annual Ware Carnival and Town Fair, boat handling competition, a quiz evening and plenty of stalls. There will also be a welcome barbeque for visiting boaters, who can book their spot at the Festival using the entry form that can be downloaded at the Branch webpages. Find out more.

Welsh Waterways Festival | 4th-5th July

Welshpool, Montgomeryshire | Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust

Supported by IWA Shrewsbury District & North Wales Branch and Friends of the Montgomery Canal, the Waterways Festival on the Montgomery Canal has plenty to offer including steam boats and model boats to see, music, a procession of decorated boats, demonstrations, activities and Wild Over Waterways activities for children. Find out more.

River Festival Stratford-upon-Avon | 4th-5th July

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire | Stratforward

Photo: River Festival Stratford-upon-Avon (photo by Jeanne Smith)Photo: River Festival Stratford-upon-Avon (photo by Jeanne Smith)

For two days every summer the banks of the River Avon in Stratford-upon-Avon come alive. 2015’s event will feature even more free events and activities, whilst also welcoming back a host of old favourites by popular demand. Find out more.

King’s Norton Festival | 10th-12th July

King’s Norton, Birmingham | Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canals Society

Celebrating 200 years of navigation of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, these three days of family entertainment will include a Farmers Market, craft and trade stalls and floating trade boats. Find out more.

The Evesham River Festival | 10th-12th July

Evesham, Worcestershire | Doug Payne

Workman Gardens will see the return of the Evesham River Festival besides the River Avon. This year there a 'medieval' theme to coincide with the 850th Anniversary of the Battle of Evesham. Find out more.

Cosgrove Canal Festival & Craft Fair | 11th-12th July

Cosgrove, Milton Keynes | Buckingham Canal Society

Held in conjunction with the Cosgrove Village Feast, the Festival at Cosgrove Lock on the Grand Union Canal will have historic narrow boats, Saturday night music, stalls and trade boats. Find out more.

Linslade Canal Festival | 25th July

Linslade, Bedfordshire | Leighton-Linslade Town Council

Promoting handmade products, the canal and conservation, this event on the Grand Union Canal has something for all ages, with over 100 stalls, craft demonstrations, boats, live music and kids activities. Find out more.

Pocklington Canal Boat Rally | 25th-26th July

Melbourne, East Riding of Yorkshire | Pocklington Canal Amenity Society

The rally on the Pocklington Canal will commemorate the bicentenary of the Act of Parliament enabling the construction of the Canal. Boaters joining the rally will also be able to enjoy a variety of events. Find out more.

Audlem Festival of Transport | 26th July

Audlem, Cheshire | Audlem Special Events Team

Around 330 vintage cars, vans, trucks and buses are expected at the Audlem Festival of Transport, along with a record number of vintage canal boats at the Audlem Wharf on the Shropshire Union Canal. Find out more.


Blisworth Canal Festival | 8th-9th August

Blisworth, Northamptonshire | Blisworth Canal Partnership

Photo: Blisworth Canal Festival Photo: Blisworth Canal Festival

Soak up the atmosphere along the Grand Union Canal lined with trade and workboats before heading to the Festival Field, which will have plenty to see and do, including traders, displays and activities. Find out more.

Festival on the Canal at Over | 22nd-23rd August

Over, Gloucestershire | Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust

Family fun day out on the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal. Enjoy the model boat regatta, fire brigade displays, stalls, canoeing and kayaking, as well as a Canal tour to Vineyard Hill in a heritage boat. Find out more.

Burnley Canal Festival | 29th-30th August

Burnley, Lancashire | Burnley Canal Trust

There is no charge for boats visiting this Festival on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, where there will be lots of free activities, a best dressed boat competition, taster kayaking sessions, live music, stalls and much more. Find out more.

IWA’s Northampton Festival of Water | 29th-31st August

Northampton, Northamptonshire | IWA

The event, celebrating the 200th anniversary of the opening of the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal, will be centred around the River Nene waterfront at Becket’s Park and will have an array of attractions on and off the water providing a fun day out for all the family! Up to 200 boats, including leisure, trade, heritage and working narrow boats, are expected in the marina and along the river front as well as a wealth of smaller craft such as canoes, rowing boats, sailboats, windsurfers and ribs. There will also be opportunities for visitors to get afloat on board trip boats and water taxis. Find out more.


Stoke Bruerne Village at War Weekend | 12th-13th September

Stoke Bruerne, Northamptonshire | Friends of the Canal Museum

Stoke Bruerne Village at War 2014 (photo by James Rudd)Photo: Stoke Bruerne Village at War Weekend (phot by James Rudd)

A canal village goes to war. 1940s re-enactment, living history groups, tanks and vintage vehicles, black market traders, live music and much more, all alongside the Grand Union Canal. Find out more.

Black Country Boating Festival | 12th-13th September

Windmill End, West Midlands | Black Country Boating Festivals Ltd.

Photo: Black Country Working Boat Gathering (photo by Tim Lewis)Photo: Black Country Working Boat Gathering (photo by Tim Lewis)

The boat gathering on the Dudley No.2 Canal will have more than 200 boat, trade and charity stalls, canal side entertainment, boaters’ competitions, a funfair, real ale bar and regular boat trips, ensuring there is something for all the family to enjoy. Find out more.

Wey River Festival | 18th-19th September

Guildford, Surrey | National Trust

Enjoy stalls and activities along the River Wey Navigation to entertain all the family, including demonstrations from the Surrey Wood Turners, ‘have a go’ sessions with the Black Dragon Morris dancers and an illuminated procession. Find out more.

Titpton Canal & Community Festival | 19th-20th September

Tipton, West Midlands | Tipton Community Association

Held on the Birmingham Old Main Line Canal in Tipton, this year's attractions include working and trip boats, arts, crafts and bling fair, live entertaiment, various trade stalls, canal crafts, real ales and much more. Find out more.

Huddlesford Heritage Gathering | 19th-20th September

Huddlesford, Staffordshire | Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust and Lichfield Cruising Club

Huddlesford Heritage GatheringPhoto: Huddlesford Heritage Gathering

A biennial gathering of historic boats, floating traders, private boats, and dozens of classic vehicles, with exhibitors and displays on the field and music, entertainment, food and a bar all day. Find out more.

Take a look at IWA's calendar for details of festivals, boat gatherings and volunteer opportunities taking place this Summer.

Top photo: Canal festival sign, Canalway Cavalcade (photo by Hannah Ranken)

Tags: For Kids, Things to Do