2018 Waterside Events and Festivals

Created on 03/01/2018

Start planning your days out for 2018 and take a look at the selection of waterway festivals and boat gatherings on offer for this year.


London Excel Boat Show | 10-14th January

Excel Centre, London

The London Boat Show will be taking place from the 10th - 14th January 2018 at the ExCel London centre. A team of IWA volunteers will be at the show promoting our work to protect and restore the country's 6,500 miles of canals and rivers, and providing visitors with information on inland waterways. Find out more.


St Richard's Boat and Car Festival | 4th-7th May

Droitwich, Droitwich Canal

St. Richard’s Canal Festival started in 2007 and has grown rapidly through the addition of street markets, new attractions and the classic and vintage car rally. The event fills the streets in Droitwich Spa town centre and Vines Park and provides visitors with a great day out in the heart of this historic salt town. Find out more.

Skipton Waterways Festival | 5th-6th May

Skipton, Leeds & Liverpool Canal

As ever there will be various types of entertainment and stalls on site over the weekend to keep all ages busy. Find out more.

IWA’s Canalway Cavalcade | 5th-7th May

Little Venice, London, Regent's Canal | IWA

Photo: Canalway Cavalcade

IWA Canalway Cavalcade is London's biggest, brightest and best annual waterways festival. 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.


Rickmansworth Canal Festival | 19th-20th May

Grand Union Canal | Rickmansworth Waterways Trust

The Rickmansworth Festival takes place on the third weekend of May every year and celebrates canals, the community and the environment. The top attraction for many is the wonderful array of canal boats from across the country - a terrific spectacle, with at least 100 craft of many types and histories moored along the towpath up to four deep. But there are things to do, see and enjoy whatever your interests, and whatever your age. Find out more.

Moira Canal Festival | 19th-20th May

Moira, Leicestershire | Ashby Canal Trust

Highlights will include a living history display, childrens entertainment, Battle of Britain flight flypast, morris dancing and a duck race. Shreck the boat horse will demonstrate the old art of boat towing, as he leads the parade of boats. There will be a wide variety of stalls and exhibits, bar and refreshments. Find out more.

Titford Pumphouse Rally | 26th-27th May

Oldbury, Birmingham | Birmingham Canal Navigation Society (BCNS)

Visit the BCNS boat gathering 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.

Crick Boat Show | 26th-28th May

Crick, Northamptonshire | Waterways World

Photo: Crick Boat Show

Crick Boat Show 2018 will have a range of activities, displays and special talks. It's the biggest boating equipment marketplace with over 250 exhibitors.


Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show | 1st-3rd June

Lower Basildon, Berkshire

A lively three days of boating and fun. See the widest range of boats in one place, all set around a beautiful lake beside the River Thames. Enjoy family days out lazing by the lake in the sun. Family camping, glamping & Thames side mooring available. Find out more.

Leicester Riverside Festival | 2nd-3rd June

Bede Park, Mile Straight, Western Boulevard & Castle Gardens, Leicester

This popular festival offers boat trips, live music, a variety of food stalls from around the world, displays and an exciting choice of activities for all ages, making it a fun packed weekend! Find out more.

Etruria Canals Festival | 2nd-3rd June

Kilndown Close, Etruria, Stoke-on-Trent | Etruria Industrial Museum

Celebrating the canals of Stoke on Trent. Historic boats and vehicles, demonstrations, local foods and crafts, an enjoyable day out for all the family. Boat parade along the Trent & Mersey canal.  Highlights include being able to see Britain’s last steam-powered potter’s mill and houses, a 190 year old beam engine in steam.

Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival | 15th-17th June

Middlewich | Middlewich Town Council

As in previous years, there will be a selection of live music in various venues around the town, backed up by the colourful array of narrowboats along the Trent & Mersey Canal. The festival will continue the town’s tradition of Morris Dancing displays, a Celidh night, stalls, workshops and celebration of the rich heritage of Middlewich.  Find out more.

Foxton Locks Festival | 16th-17th June

Foxton near Market Harborough | Foxton Inclined Plane Trust

Entertainment over the two days will include arena displays, live music on two stages and a funfair.


Ware Boat Festival | 6th-8th July

Ware, Hertfordshire | IWA Lee & Stort Branch

Photo: Ware Boat Festival 2010 (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.

Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival | 30th June-1st July

Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire | Stratforward

Come and enjoy free family fun in Stratford-upon-Avon with music, narrow boats on the River Avon, craft and food stalls, family zone, charity stalls, illuminated boat parade and spectacular fireworks.

Newbury Waterways Festival | 8th July

Victoria Park, Newbury | Kennet & Avon Canal Trust

Enjoy a spectacular display of colourful and decorated narrowboats on the towpath whilst Victoria Park will be filled with stalls, activities, and entertainment for all the family.  With live music, boat trips and a beer tent there is something for everyone. Entry to the Festival is free. Find out more.

Northwich River Festival | 12th-13th July

Northwich | Northwich Rotary Club

The Northwich River Festival will have a rowing regatta, the Mighty River Weaver Dragon boat race and also the famous Duck race. Other festival highlights will be the Typhoon & the Pedal Players performing the Cheshire stories around Northwich Town centre and evening entertainment from 'Marblehead Johnson'. Other attractions will be charity and trade stalls, a bar and emergency service displays. There is also free parking at the festival. Find out more.

Cosgrove Canal Festival & Craft Fair | 21st-22nd July

Cosgrove, Buckinghamshire | Buckingham Canal Society

The event is run each year by the Society to raise money for the restoration of the Buckingham Canal between Cosgrove and Buckingham and to spread the word about the work. Throughout the whole festival weekend you will find many historic and trade boats, craft and games stalls, plenty of entertainment and refreshments, and so much more. Set primarily alongside the picturesque towpath between the lock at Cosgrove and the recently refurbished Iron Trunk Aqueduct, the event is full of fun for the whole family. The Craft Fair is held in the nearby Cosgrove Village Hall, only a short walk from the canal.

Audlem Festival of Transport | 29th July

Audlem, Cheshire | Audlem Special Events Team

Vintage cars, vans, trucks and buses are expected to join the 2018 parade.  A record number of vintage canal boats are expected at the Audlem Wharf next to Audlem Mill and the Shroppie Fly on the Shropshire Union Canal.


Blisworth Festival | 18-19th August

Blisworth, Northamptonshire

The Blisworth Canal Festival has been embraced by visitors and villagers alike to become a major annual event in South Northamptonshire. Attractions include historic and trade boats, boat trips, food outlets, bars, kid’s activities, rare breeds, artizan foods, traders and live music. Find out more.

Burnley Canal Festival | 25-26th August


There will be music, dance, performance and spectacle, fun fair, food, workshops, craft stalls and waterborne activities to take you on a trail of magic and discovery through Burnley’s unique canalside environment and heritage. Find out more.

IWA Festival of Water | 25th-27th August

St Neots, Huntingdonshire | IWA

Photo: River Ouse, Riverside Park, St Neots (photo taken by Bear 1975, Wikipedia)

A weekend of fun for boaters, campers and all who love spending time by the water.  There will be attractions for all the family and boats lining the mile of River Great Ouse that flows past Regatta Meadow. Find out more.


Village at War Weekend | 8th & 9th September

Stoke Bruerne| Friends of the Canal Museum

The 11th Anniversary of the award winning Village at War Weekend based on the Grand Union Canal at Stoke Bruerne. An opportunity to experience life in wartime Britain during the 1940s with re-enactments, live music, Battle of Britain Flypast, black market stalls, fashion parade, tea dances, air raids, troop inspections, vintage boats and much much more. Find out more.

Oxford Canal Festival | 8th & 9th September

Port Meadow, Oxford | Oxford Canal Heritage Project

The festival will take place on 8th and 9th September on the Aristotle Lane Recreation Ground near Port Meadow, with a fabulous programme of activities for all the family. There will be a dog show and a Canal Olympics, walks and talks will be provided by local historian and author Mark Davies. Food and drink stalls will be there and many community stalls and traders. There will be plenty for the kids to do with a bouncy castle and fairground rides and entertainment for all the family including canal craft activities such as traditional narrowboat castles and roses painting. Find out more.

Tipton Canal & Community Festival | 21st-23rd 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.

Top photo: IWA Festival of Water 2017 in Ilkeston by Bridge Media

Sign up for email updates

Keep up to date with all the latest waterways news. 

first name:
last name:

We will never share your email address with anyone else and you can update your subscription preferences at any time.

Tags: Things to Do