PRESS RELEASE: IWA to Celebrate Stratford Anniversaries – Festival Plans Announced

Issue date: 18th October 2013

The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) has offered support to Stratforward and other local organisations in Stratford-upon-Avon to ensure appropriate celebrations for the significant waterways anniversaries in 2014. Stratforward Business Improvement District, an organisation of local businesses, has been responsible for organising the annual Stratford River Festival for the past five years, and is organising an even bigger and better event in 2014, at which IWA plans to have a significant presence.
The Association had looked at holding a 2014 National Festival in the town, and had held discussions with Stratford District Council to review the options for the holding such an event in place of the usual Riverside Festival.  However, in the light of the poor financial outturn of the 2013 National Festival at Watford the Association has decided against planning festivals of this type for the foreseeable future, as the financial risks for the Association are too great.  IWA will, instead, put its efforts into rallies with clear campaign objectives, and proven annual gatherings such as Canalway Cavalcade, as well as supporting other major events such as Stratford River Festival and Crick Boat Show, where IWA hopes to have an enhanced presence.  IWA’s commitment to such events will produce more benefit for the Association, and for the waterways in general, at less risk.
IWA has announced plans to hold a number of significant events in 2014, starting with the annual Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice in London, over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend.  This is followed by IWA’s annual National Trail Boat Rally over the late May Bank Holiday weekend on the Grand Western Canal, and is to be hosted and organised by Devon County Council, and will include celebrations for re-opening the canal following the major embankment reconstruction currently in progress.  IWA's 2014 National Campaign Rally takes place at Chester in early June and will promote improved waterway connections through the city and to make better use of the river Dee and all parts of the Shropshire Union Canal in the area.  IWA Festivals also plans to hold a significant event, in the style of a traditional boat rally, over the August Bank Holiday weekend, the details of which are planned to be available at the beginning of the year.  Furthermore, IWA branches plan to hold a range of rallies up and down the country.
Les Etheridge, IWA National Chairman, said “IWA has a busy year planned for 2014 and our Festivals team has been tasked with an ambitious range of events to support.  Festivals are important to us for the promotion of the waterways where they are held, and the engagement with a wide range of boaters, other waterway users, as well as the opportunity to draw in new waterway supporters.  The old formula for IWA’s National Festival clearly no longer works and a new style is needed.  We intend to support a wider range of events across the country.”


About IWA - Notes for Editors
Stratforward Bid, the town’s business improvement district organisation established in 2009, represents almost 500 shops, cafes, pubs , restaurants and businesses in the town centre and has the mission statement to ‘To bring more people into Stratford town centre, make them stay longer, spend more and leave happy’. The Bid helps organise many of the town’s popular annual festivals, including the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations (April), the Festival of Motoring (May), the Arts Festival (formerly The Fringe Festival -June), the River Festival (June/July), the Food Festival (September) and Christmas events. There is further information at
IWA’s 2013 National Festival, held at Cassiobury Park, Watford over 19th to 21st July suffered from poor attendance through the pay gates, and consequently made a loss of over £40,000 including staff costs.
2014 is the 50th anniversary of the re-opening of the Southern Stratford-upon-Avon Canal and the 40th anniversary of the re-opening of the Upper Avon Navigation.  2014 also sees the centenary of the birth of IWA founder Robert Aickman, who had a particular affection for the waterways around Stratford-upon-Avon.  IWA hopes that these anniversaries will spur further support for the proposals to extend the Avon Navigation to Warwick, for which a feasibility study is due for release in 2014.