There are dozens of exciting waterside festivals taking place across the country each year, many of them offering free entertainment. What better way to arrive and enjoy the party atmosphere than by canal boat?
We’ve put together our top 10 list of festivals taking place in waterside villages, towns and cities in England and Wales this summer, together with our nearest canal boat hire base.
Long Itchington Beer Festival, 3-6 May…the six pubs of Long Itchington on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire join forces each year to create a fantastic village beer festival. As well as a big choice of beer, great food and entertainment will be on offer. Visitors can buy their own special festival glasses to take between the pubs and pick up a beer guide to find out which pubs are selling which beer and when. Our nearest barge hire base is just a two-hour cruise away on the Grand Union Canal at Stockton.
Bath International Music Festival, 22 May to 2 June…bookings are now open for the 65th Bath International Music Festival. This year’s progamme includes performances from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the BBC Singers, The Danish String Quartet, folk singer Seth Lakeman, Bath Philharmonia, Measha Brueggergosman soprano and accompanied by pianist Justus Zeyen and cabaret opera ‘An Eye for an Eye’. Our nearest narrowboat rental base is at Bradford on Avon, a seven-hour journey away along the Kennet & Avon Canal.
Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival, 25-27 May…over 200 exhibitors will gather at Crick Marina on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal near to Rugby to celebrate the canals and showcase thousands of inland waterways products and services. The annual event offers an exciting programme of family entertainment, including boat trips, free traditional children’s fairground rides, live music, children’s activities, arts and crafts stands, a large variety of food and drink stalls, competitions and talks. Our base at North Kilworth on the Grand Union Leicester Line is just five hours from Crick Marina.
Chester Dragon Boat Festival, 9 June…this annual and very colourful charity event on the River Dee sees over 10 dragon boat teams of up to 16 people battling to become the champions. Our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal is just seven hours away from Chester.
Bristol Festival of Nature, 15-16 June…the UK’s largest free natural history event celebrates its 10th anniversary this summer at Bristol Harbourside. The event gives wildlife enthusiasts of all ages the chance to explore the natural world in the heart of the City. Over 150 organisations, including the BBC Natural History Unit, National Trust and Bristol Zoo Gardens, will be providing interactive activities, live entertainment, hands-on experiences and a market packed with local produce. Bristol Harbour is an eight hour journey along the River Avon from our canal boat holiday base at Bath.
Stratford River Festival, 6-7 July…this annual event offers free family fun in Stratford-upon-Avon with music, a gathering of boats, craft and food stalls, family zone, charity stalls, illuminated boat parade and spectacular fireworks. Our nearest canal boat rental base is a six-hour cruise away at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal.
Birmingham International Jazz & Blues Festival, 5-14 July…the 29th year of this 10-day jazz extravaganza will see over 180 shows in 50 venues across the city, almost all free to the public. Birmingham, said to have more canals than Venice, is just five hours away from our narrowboat hire base at Tardebigge on the Birmingham & Worcester Canal.
Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, 9-14 July…tickets are now on sale for the 67th Eisteddfod at Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal. Thousands of people from around the world will descend on the town to celebrate one of the world’s great musical and culture events, staring on Tuesday 9 July, when Eisteddfod Patron Terry Waite will lead the colourful, traditional procession through the town. Six days of world-class competitions and concerts will end with a spectacular fireworks display. Our base on the Llangollen Canal at Trevor is just two hours away from Llangollen.
Fairport’s Cropredy Convention, 8-10 August…this annual three-day festival of music takes place in the village of Cropredy on the Oxford Canal near Banbury. The 2013 line-up includes Alice Cooper, 10CC, Levellers, Nik Kershaw, Richard Digance, The Dunwells and Martin Barre’s New Day performing the music of Jethro Tull. Our nearest narrowboat hire base seven hours away at Oxford.
Stone Food & Drink Festival, 4-6 October…Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of all things gastronomic takes place at the pretty market town of Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal. As well as a range of themed food marquees, the festival will host demonstrations by top chefs, evening events and a Farmers’ Market. Stone is just five hours from our base at Great Haywood on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal.