Enjoy a festival afloat this summer

Enjoy a festival afloat this summer

A series of exciting canalside events are taking place over the summer holidays, so enjoy some festival fun afloat on your next canal boat holiday.   From small-scale village festivals to world-class city attractions, here are our top five:

The Llangollen Eisteddfod, 9-14 July
The International Musical Eisteddfod at Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal is one of the world’s great musical events, bringing a fiesta of music, language, dance and colour and attracting thousands of people from around the world.
Six days of world-class competitions and concerts will end with a spectacular fireworks display.

Our nearest canal boat hire bases are at Trevor (just two hours away), Chirk (three hours away) and Blackwater Meadow (eight hours away).

IWA National Festival, 19-21 July
The Inland Waterway’s 2013 National Festival will take place at Cassiobury Park on the Grand Union Canal in Watford.  Crafts, food, real ale and boats galore (both new and used) will help to make this a festival to remember. The entertainment will include a flypast by a World War II Spitfire (circumstances permitting), a Victorian fairground, plus song and dance throughout.

Our nearest narrowboat holiday hire base is nine hours away on the Grand Union Canal in West London.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe, 2-26 August
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world’s largest arts festival with more than 2,800 shows and 24,000 performers bringing their work to 270 venues across the city.  Among the shows with the broadest appeal is a stage adaptation of The Shawshank Redemption, based on the book that inspired the cult movie, starring comedian Omid Djilili and Dad’s Army’s Ian Lavender. Taggart star Blythe Duff will perform in Ciara, a new play by David Harrower, and Game of Thrones star Gemma Whelan stars in the premiere of Dark Vanilla Jungle by Philip Ridley.  Big name comedians vying for audiences include Al Murray, Alexei Sayle, Sandi Toksvig, Ardal O’Hanlon, David Baddiel, Lucy Porter, Sean Hughes and Susan Calman.

Our base at the Falkirk Wheel on the junction of the Union and Forth & Clyde canals is an 11-hour cruise away. Visitor moorings can be found at Edinburgh Quay, just five minutes from Princes Street in the city centre.

Cropredy Music Festival, 8-10 August
The annual Fairport’s Cropredy Convention takes place in the village of Cropredy, on the Oxford Canal near Banbury.
Widely acclaimed as the ultimate celebration of folk-rock, increasingly the tens of thousands of music-loving folkies who invade the normally tranquil village of Cropredy in North Oxfordshire for three days each August, are treated to a more eclectic range of music. Festival founders and rock-folk originators Fairport Convention are still the principal headliners, but the bill this year includes several distinctly non-folk performers, including the original shock-rocker Alice Cooper, 10cc, Levellers and Nik Kershaw.

Our nearest bases are at Oxford (seven hours away) and Napton (10 hours away).

Blisworth Canal Festival, 10-11 August
During the Blisworth Canal Festival, the village waterfront will be full of trade boats and stalls selling everything from cheese to boat oil. Two trip boats will be operating and the Funion Bargee will provide free supervised play sessions for children.  Seven village venues will offer a variety of exciting attractions including pony rides, a master blacksmith, a ‘have-a-go bell-tower!’, a variety of food outlets, wood carving, laser arena, bars, rural craft demonstrations, companion dog show, vintage caravans, WWII re-enactment, children’s fairground, chicken display, art gallery and Bistro. And on the Sunday, 10 local gardens will be open. There will also be free heritage walks and longer guided rambles, plus free live music to enjoy.

Our nearest base is round the corner at Gayton, or 12 hours away at Rugby.

Top 20 Canal Boat Names

Top 20 Canal Boat Names

With the help of the Canal & River Trust, Drifters has gathered a list of the top 20 most popular canal boat names:

1. Kingfisher 2. Dragonfly 3. Phoenix 4. Willow 5. Merlin 6. Poppy 7. Serenity 8. Tranquility 9. Serendipity 10. Sapphire  11. Dreamcatcher 12. Free Spirit 13. Blue Moon 14. Freedom 15. Narrow Escape 16. Grace 17. Bluebell 18. Andante 19. Heron 20. Kestrel

There are over 33,000 canal boats on Britain’s 3,000-mile network of inland waterways, and 1,100 of them are available for holiday hire.

Tim Parker, Chairman of Drifters, says: “The most popular canal boat names reflect the gentle nature of our peaceful inland waterways and the wildlife that inhabits them.  Narrowboat holidays offer the chance to slow right down and escape the hectic pace of our everyday lives.  Holiday-makers can enjoy the quietness of our beautiful countryside when travelling rural stretches, as well as the attractions on offer in our vibrant waterside towns and cities.”

Overall, the number of boats on our inland waterways has increased by 40 per cent in the last 10 years.  According to the British Marine Federation’s latest ‘Watersports Participation Survey’, 287,000 people went canal boating last year and the numbers have increased by 23 per cent in the last five years.

Celebrity Canal Boaters

Celebrity Canal Boaters

Over a quarter of a million people enjoy canal boating every year on Britain’s peaceful network of canal and rivers, including a number of celebrities.

Last month, the BBC’s outdoor girl Julia Bradbury enjoyed a trip on a canal boat at the Crick Boat Show & Waterways Festival. Julia said:“I thoroughly enjoyed exploring some of Britain’s canals for my Canal Walks series. They cut a sedate path through some of the country’s finest scenery.”

Hollywood hero Harrison Ford, his wife Calista Flockhart and her son Liam, took a holiday on the Llangollen Canal in Wales in 2004. In a recent interview on the subject, Harrison said: “there’s nothing quite like it to slow your life down and I do it a lot.”

In 2010, Pirates of the Caribbean star Kiera Knightley rented a canal boat on a canal in London’s East End to use as a romantic weekend hideaway with boyfriend Rupert Friend. A neighbour interviewed by Marie Claire magazine said: “they like nothing better than strolling along the canal hand in hand and going to the chippy for a fish supper.”

The Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey enjoyed a weekend canal boating on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bradford on Avon in 2008. According to the Moonraker Narrowboat Company, “he had so much fun, he ended up skipping some appointments in London to stay longer.”

David Suchet CBE, best-known for playing Poirot and a great supporter of the canals, spent the first five years of his marriage to actress Sheila Ferris, living on a narrowboat. He has taken regular holidays on the canals ever since and says: “I think it’s the independence that canal life affords you, the views of the countryside, the peace and the privacy.”

Timothy West CBE and Prunella Scales CBE, both renowned actors from stage and screen, have enjoyed many holidays on their own narrowboat. West said in a 2009 Daily Telegraph interview: “A canal boat holiday was a particular blessing when the children were younger because they got so wonderfully tired working the locks and swing bridges that they’d be exhausted by six and drop straight off to sleep, leaving us free to sit down and open a bottle of wine.”

Stan Cullimore, guitarist and singer with the 80s indie pop band The Housemartins, has taken several canal boat holidays in the last year. He says: “being on the canals is like going back to the 50s – everyone is just so nice to each other, and so helpful.”

BBC’s The One Show presenter Miranda Krestovnikoff took a holiday with her family on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Bradford on Avon last autumn. Of canal boats, she says: “the moment you set foot on them, your pulse seems to slow and you relax as the pace is snail-like and there is nothing you can do to hurry things along.”

Veteran television presenter John Craven OBE, and Friend of the Canal & River Trust, says: “Over the years I have explored many canals. I grew up visiting the Five Rise flight of locks at Bingley on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal and taking a narrowboat across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct left me lost for words.”

Acclaimed British actor Timothy Spall OBE and his wife Shane bought a narrowboat in 1997 and explored the canal network for a number of years, before swapping it for the seafaring Princess Matilda in 2004.

Visit Warwick Castle by Canal Boat

Visit a castle on your next canal boat holiday

Narrowboat holidays are a great way to sightsee and there are hundreds of top historic attractions on, or close to, Britain’s 3,000-mile canal network.

We’ve listed of our top five favourite canalside castles to visit on your next holiday afloat, together with our nearest canal boat hire base.


Warwick Castle on the River Avon…said to be Britain’s greatest medieval experience, Warwick Castle was developed from an original castle built by William the Conqueror in 1068. If offers visitors the chance to explore its grand interiors, climb its impressive towers and ramparts and visit some of its special attractions, including the terrifying Castle Dungeon. There are also regular ‘Flight of the Eagles’ and ‘Mighty Trebuchet’ firing displays in the extensive castle grounds. Warwick Castle is a seven-hour cruise from our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal in Warwickshire.

Chirk Castle on the Llangollen Canal…this magnificent medieval fortress at Chirk was completed in 1310 and is the last Welsh castle from the reign of Edward I still lived in today. Features from its 700 years include the medieval tower and dungeon, 17th century long gallery, grand 18th century state apartments, servants’ hall and historic laundry. It also boasts award-winning gardens and incredible views over the Cheshire and Salop plains. Drifters’ nearest base is at Chirk on the Llangollen Canal in Wrexham.

Windsor Castle on the River Thames… Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world and has been the family home of British kings and queens for almost 1,000 years. It is an official residence of Her Majesty The Queen and is still used regularly for ceremonial and State occasions. State Banquets are held in St George’s Hall, where a single table can seat 160 people. Windsor can be reached on a week’s holiday from our base is at Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal in Berkshire.

Berkhamsted Castle on the Grand Union Canal…one of the oldest motte and bailey castles in England, the fascinating ruins of Berkhamsted Castle can be found close to the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. When William the Conqueror was crowned King in 1066, he granted the Manor and Honour of Berkhamsted to his half-brother Robert, Count of Mortain, and work started on the castle. The castle went on to become the home of many key Royal figures, including The Black Prince from 1337. Berkhamsted can be reached on a week’s holiday from Drifters’ base at London on the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire.

Skipton Castle on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal…Over 900 years old, Skipton Castle in North Yorkshire is one of the most complete and best preserved castles in England. Visitors can explore every corner of this impressive castle, which withstood a three-year siege during the Civil War. They can explore the banqueting hall, kitchen, bedchamber and privy, and climb from the depths of the dungeon to the top storey of the watch tower. Skipton is 10 hours from our Foulridge base on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Cumbria.

Hire a canal boat for Father's Day

Hire a canal boat for Father’s Day

Pubs and boats – sound like a good combination for a Father’s Day treat?

Most Dads would agree there’s nothing quite like messing about in boats, so why not hire a canal boat for the day and plan a visit to a pub along the way.

Drifters offers day boat hire at nine of its bases, from less than £10 per person. Full tuition is included so those new to canal boating can get the hang of steering, mooring up and working the locks.

Boats are equipped with cutlery, crockery and a kettle so the boating party can enjoy a picnic afloat or head for a waterside pub. Most day boats also have a toilet, cooker and fridge.

Here’s a list of Drifters’ day canal boat hire centres and prices for 2013:

Staffordshire delights – from Drifters’ base at Great Haywood on the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Stafford, the recommended day boat cruise is a six-hour journey to the historic market town of Rugeley and back through several locks, past Lord Lichfield’s beautiful Shugborough Hall. Stop at Shugborough for a picnic in the grounds, visit a pub in Rugeley or stop at the delightful ‘Wolseley Arms’ in Wolseley Bridge. Day boat hire from Great Haywood starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Sightseeing along ‘The Shroppie’ – from Drifters’ base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union near Crewe, cruise south past Barbridge and Nantwich to Baddington Bridge. With no locks to negotiate and plenty of pubs ‘en route’, it’s a delightful way to spend the day afloat. Day boat hire from Bunbury starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Tunnel through rural Worcestershire – from Drifters’ base at Tardebigge on the Worcs & Birmingham Canal near Bromsgrove, cruise north to Kings Norton Junction, a pretty rural route with historic pubs along the way, including the family-friendly ‘Hopwood House’ at Alvechurch. The route is lock-free but there are three tunnels to pass through. Day boat hire from Tardebigge starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Visit ‘The Stream in the Sky’ – from the Drifters’ base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales it’s just 20 minutes by boat to the awesome Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. At over 38 metres high and 305 metres long, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct (AKA ‘The Stream in the Sky’), offers a fantastic waterway adventure. With not even a hand rail on the south side of the aqueduct to obscure the stunning views of the Dee Valley below, canal boaters literally feel like they are floating above the earth! Day boat hire from Trevor starts at £110 for up to 10 people.

Glide through the Brecon Beacons – from Drifters’ base at Goytre Wharf on the beautiful Monmouth & Brecon Canal near Abergavenny, enjoy incredible mountain views on the way to the ‘Horse & Jockey’ pub. Goytre means ‘place in the woods’ and the wharf was once used to supply coal to the nearby estate. Interactive displays on site tell visitors more about the wharf’s history. Day hire from Goytre starts at £90 for up to 12 people.

Explore Shakespeare’s country – from Drifters’ base at Wootton Wawen on the Stratford Canal near Stratford Upon Avon, you can choose between an easy day cruising to Wilmcote and back (2.5 hours each way), or a more challenging cruise to Lowsonford and back, negotiating a total of 16 locks, with the opportunity to stop for an hour at the ‘Fleur de Lys’ pub, famous for its pies (3.5 hours each way). Day boat hire from Wootton Wawen starts at £99 for up to 10 people.

Take a cruise in Bath – Drifters’ base at Sydney Wharf in the World Heritage City of Bath offers the chance to sample a scenic cruise on one of Britain’s most popular waterways, the Kennet & Avon Canal. Head east to Bathampton and make the historic ‘George Inn’, a vision of Olde England and once a 12th century monastery, your lunchtime destination. Or head west into Bath City Centre, with fantastic views of its beautiful Georgian architecture. Day boat hire from Bath starts at £120 for up to 10 people.

Wend your way through Wiltshire – from Drifters’ base at Hilperton Marina in Wiltshire on the Kennet & Avon, cruise east through unspoilt countryside to waterside ‘The Barge Inn’ at Seend or head West to Bradford on Avon and the ‘Cross Guns’ pub at Avoncliffe Aqueduct, with fantastic views of the foothills of the Cotswolds. Day boat hire from Hilperton starts at £105 for up to eight people.

Experience the rural North Oxford Canal – from Drifters’ base at Stretton-under-Fosse near Rugby, cruise north through open farmland to the pretty village of Ansty with its pottery and ‘Rose & Castle’ pub. Or head south, travelling through quiet woodland and Newbold Tunnel to the village of Newbold with several pubs to choose from. Day boat hire from Rugby starts at £150 for a boat for 12 people.

Get the family afloat this summer

Get the family afloat this summer

Narrowboat holidays offer families the chance to set off on an adventure together – learning how to work the locks, navigate tunnels, speak the boating lingo, spot wildlife, explore mile upon mile of traffic-free towpaths and visit waterside attractions along the way.

All our operators provide hirers with life jackets and boat steering tuition. Bikes can be stored on the roof of the boat and dogs are welcome aboard most boats.

Here are some ideas for family canal boat holiday destinations this summer:

Explore the markets of Skipton…On a week’s holiday from our base at Foulridge on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal in Cumbria, boaters can reach the historic and vibrant market town of Skipton on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales.

On the way, enjoy extensive views of sheep country, stone walls, farm houses and the occasional village or small town.

It takes ten hours to travel the 16 miles and 15 locks to Skipton, where you can find moorings in the centre of town and explore the medieval castle, street markets, quirky shops, tea rooms and restaurants.

Visit Bristol’s Floating Harbour, home of Blackbeard the Pirate…on a short break from Sydney Wharf in the centre of the beautiful World Heritage City of Bath, canal boat holiday-makers can head west on the River Avon to moor up in Bristol’s Floating Harbour.

There you can visit Brunel’s masterpiece, the SS Great Britain, as well as the new Blue Reef Aquarium and find out more about the city’s fascinating marine history, including Blackbeard the Pirate, said to have been born there.

The journey from Bath to Bristol takes eight hours, passing through 13 locks.

Watch the Lion King at the Birmingham Hippodrome…Boaters can travel lock-free to Birmingham City Centre in just five hours from our base at Tardebigge. Centrally located over-night moorings can be found at Gas Street Basin.

Birmingham offers plenty for families to see and do including a visit to the Sea Life Centre at Brindley Place, shopping at the Mailbox and Bullring or a visit to the fantastic Lion King show, on at the Birmingham Hippodrome from 29 June to 28 September.

Meander down the Oxford Canal…one of the oldest in the country, the pretty Oxford Canal follows the contours of the land. From our base at Napton on the North Oxford Canal in rural Warwickshire, it takes a week to travel to Oxford and back on a boating holiday.

Along the way, you pass through Banbury and some lovely canalside villages, including Thrupp, Lower Heyford and Shipton-on-Cherwell, with stone built houses, cosy pubs, ancient churches and village greens.

There are centrally located moorings in Oxford, giving boaters the chance to visit some Oxford’s world famous sites, including the Bodleian Library and Ashmolean Museum.

Travel to Chester by boat…Our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire is just seven hours by boat away from historic Chester.

Famous for its Medieval architecture and city walls, Chester also offers a vibrant market hall, an award-winning zoo, busy racecourse, trendy bars, shopping malls, restaurants and a series of festivals across the summer.

The Droitwich Canal

The Droitwich Canal

The Droitwich Canal is now celebrating its first full year since re-opening to navigation.

So, it’s still a bit of an unknown to most people on the canals – this makes it rather exciting. Droitwich Spa is just north of Worcester and it’s easy to get to from several Drifters bases (Alvechurch, Tardebigge, Stoke Prior and Worcester).

We stock a really detailed guide book to the Droitwich canal, which answers any questions about the new route. It’s a bit of an adventure to go on any ‘new’ canal, so there’s a buzz in the air when you meet other boaters around Droitwich.

There’s a bit of everything on the short canal, including a staircase lock, unique lock side ponds, a tunnel under a motorway, a canalised river section – and the historic old salt town of Droitwich.

Before restoration, the canal bed was largely dried up, and formed the largest reed bed in Worcestershire. Some of the reeds have been kept lining the banks of the canal, which gives you a great chance to see some quite rare birds in amongst the reeds as you cruise by. Also, a vast new reed bed has been created just beside the canal which now forms a nature reserve where several rare species have taken up residence.

The opening of the Droitwich canal has resulted in the creation of a new cruising ring – known as the Mid-Worcestershire Ring.  This also involves part of the River Severn and the Worcester & Birmingham Canal. This makes a great short break narrowboat or canal boat holiday from any of the nearby Drifters bases, and you can be one of the first to enjoy it.

Boaters Flock to Stone Food & Drink Festival

Visit the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival by Canal Boat

With visitor moorings right in the centre of town, Drifters’ base at Wootton Wawen, near Henley-in-Arden, offers the chance to visit the 2012 Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival by canal boat.

Headline speakers at this year’s event, taking place 22 April to 7 May, include Andrew Motion, Carol Ann Duffy, Iain Banks, Jeremy Paxman, PD James, Jenni Murray and Simon Armitage.

Stratford is just a six-hour cruise along the beautiful Stratford-Upon-Avon Canal from Drifters’ canal boat hire base at Wootton Wawen.  The town offers canal boat holiday-makers a diverse range of shops and restaurants, quaint side streets and beautiful open parklands along the River Avon.

As well as visiting the town’s annual Literary Festival, boaters can moor up and take time to explore the Shakespeare scene, including the famous Swan Theatre, Shakespeare’s Birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage.

During the time of the Festival, a week’s narrowboat holiday for four people starts at £615 and short breaks are available from £431.  For more information about Drifters canal boat holidays call 0844 984 0322.

For Festival tickets call 01789 207100.





…Drifters Waterway Holidays is now is offering 15 per cent off all its July and August bookings, giving people the chance take to the water for less this Summer and enjoy some holiday fun afloat.  From lazing on the Llangollen to cruising through the Capital, Britain’s canals offer the fastest way to slow down and a great family holiday. www.drifters.co.uk T 0844 984 0322

Drifters offer the choice of over 500 boats from 35 bases across the country.  Here are some ideas for Summer holiday cruising.

Visit London by boat and cruise through the heart of the Capital…a short break from Drifters’ new base at Willow Tree Marina, near Greenford in West London could take you along the Grand Union Paddington Arm and on to the Regent’s Canal at Little Venice.  This historic canal takes you right through the Capital, past London Zoo and Regent’s Park, through Camden and on to Limehouse Basin.  Here boaters can lock onto the River Thames and complete the London Ring, or stick to the canals and cruise past the Olympic Park on the River Lee.

Try a short break on a boat for four from Willow Tree (5-8 August or 8-12 August 2011) for £583, saving £103.  A boat for four for a week (8-15 August) would cost £896, saving £159.

Explore crags and historic towns in Yorkshirea short break from Sowerby Bridge could take you along the leafy Calder & Hebble Navigation to Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, navigating 20 miles and 32 locks.  Hebden Bridge is an historic mill town nestled in a fork in the hills, with house piled tier upon tier.  Visit its excellent shops and take a walk up the valley to crags, trees and stunning views of the moors above.  Todmorden boasts fine Victorian buildings, including the Town Hall and a lively market.  It offers many places to eat and drink.

Try a short break on a romantic boat for two (5-8 August) from Sowerby Bridge for £386, saving £69 or a week (6-13 August) for £879, saving £156.

Glide along the Grand Union Canal…Drifters’ base at Gayton on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire is one of the most popular in the country.  Not only is it easy to get to located just minutes away from junction 15a of the M1, but it also offers a great variety of cruising routes for boaters, whether novices or experienced navigators.

A short break (four nights) could take you south to Fenny Stratford and back, cruising through miles of delightful countryside and negotiating a total of 18 locks.  On the way you’ll pass through the picturesque village of Stoke Bruerne, with its friendly waterside pubs and fascinating Canal Museum housed in an old corn mill.

Try a short break on a boat for five (8-12 August) for £806, saving £143 or a week on a boat for four (6-13 August) for £1241, saving £219.

Enjoy a trip to the theatre in historic Stratford-Upon-Avonrunning from Birmingham’s suburbia to Shakespeare’s Stratford in 25 picturesque miles, the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal is a delightful waterway.  Drifters’ base at Wootton Wawen is just a six-hour cruise from Shakespeare’s birthplace at Stratford, with 17 locks to negotiate along the way.  Town centre moorings offer the ideal base for exploring the town’s pubs, restaurants, historic sites and the chance to take in a show at the famous Swan Theatre.

Try a short break on a boat for six (13-16 August) from Wootton Wawen for £705, saving £125 or a week for six (13-20 August) for £1007, saving £178.

Visit the “Stream in the Sky”…Drifters’ base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal offers the chance to experience one of the UK’s most stunning stretches of waterway and to navigate the awesome World Heritage Status Pontcysyllte Aqueduct – an incredible feat of engineering standing at over 38 metres high above the Dee Valley.

Try a short break on a boat for six from Trevor (19-22 August) for £934, saving £165 or week on a boat for six from Trevor (19-26 August) for £1334, saving £236.

For more information about Drifters boating holidays call 0844 984 0322 or visit www.drifters.co.uk

Boaters Flock to Stone Food & Drink Festival

Boaters Flock to Stone Food & Drink Festival

Drifters Waterway Holidays invites holiday-makers to moor up in Stone this autumn for a real gastronomic treat
At the north Staffordshire town of Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal, along the route of the Four Counties Ring, plans are well underway for its 2011 food and drink festival to be held Friday 30 September to Sunday 2 October. To celebrate, Drifters Waterway Holidays is offering 15 per cent off holidays starting 23-26 September 2011 from its bases at Anderton, Great Haywood, Stoke and Bunbury.
Festival Chairman Richard Stevens explains: “Now in its 7th year, the Stone Food and Drink Festival is Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of all things gastronomic and has grown year on year to become an event to which visitors flock from far and wide, including many travelling by canal.”
With the theme for the 2011 event set to be ‘the best of Staffordshire’ there will be a real focus on local produce, with a host of activities and events for all the family to enjoy. Top chefs will offer tips and new recipes during free, interactive cookery demonstrations and there will be the chance to pick up great local food in the High Street Farmers’ Market (Friday and Saturday only).
For serious ‘foodies’, the Gourmet Marquee and Taste of Staffordshire marquee will provide plenty of opportunity to browse stalls and sample food from artisan producers – both local and international – as well as purchase unusual items of kitchen and tableware.
Real Ale fans, meanwhile, will be delighted to hear that the festival will this year include the Titanic Beer Festival – with Dave Bott of the local Titanic Brewery endeavouring to offer for sale beers from every brewery in Staffordshire.
Add entertainment and live music, kiddies’ rides and a licensed bar and it’s easy to see why so many decide to make a weekend of the festival and moor up at the ample towpath mooring sites throughout the town.
If you’d like to extend your stay to a full week, the festivities go well beyond the three days of the main festival itself – in the run-up week local bars and eateries organise a host of special events and there’s always the opportunity to join the now famous ‘Manger a Trois’ roving meals (three courses, three different restaurants) or a minibus ‘Real Ale Trail’; taking in some of the best pubs in Stone and its surrounding villages. And with the Potteries within striking distance and attractions like Trentham Gardens and Monkey Forest nearby, there will be plenty to keep you occupied!