Best canal boat holiday destinations for Christmas and New Year

Spend Christmas or New Year on a narrowboat

With quiet canals, frosty towpaths, historic waterside pubs and festive waterside destinations to enjoy, a holiday on Britain’s peaceful canal network is a great way to get away this Christmas.

Drifters offers winter cruising* from a number of locations, with boats offering accommodation for between two to seven people.

All our boats have central heating, hot water, televisions and DVD players, and some also have multi-fuel stoves and Wifi.  So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.

Prices over Christmas and New Year start at start at £940 for a short break (three or four nights) on a boat for four, £1,300 for a week.

1. Cruise through the Welsh mountains to the Eisteddfod town of Llangollen

From our canal boat rental base at Trevor on the Llangollen Canal in North Wales, it takes around two hours to cruise to Llangollen.  There you can moor up in Llangollen Basin and enjoy visiting this beautiful town nestled in the Berwyn Mountains.  Things to see and do include: riding the Llangollen Steam Railway; and visiting the Horseshoe Falls.  There’s a great choice of independent shops and places to eat, including the popular Corn Mill with river and mountain views.

2. Boat through the Staffordshire countryside to Fradley Nature Reserve

Heading south from our narrowboat hire base at Great Haywood on the Trent & Mersey Canal, you can reach Fradley Junction in around five hours.  The journey passes through five locks and 12 peaceful miles of Staffordshire countryside, including the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  Places to visit along the way include: The Wolseley Centre run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust; and the village of Handsacre with its ‘The Old Peculiar’ pub.  At Fradley there are walking trails at the Fradley Pool Nature Reserve and hospitality at the historic Swan Inn.

3. Skate on the open-air ice rink at Warwick Castle

From our base at Stockton on the Grand Union Canal, you can cruise to Warwick and back to explore the medieval Warwick Castle.  Over Christmas, visitors the castle will find a 20-foot high Christmas tree in the Great Hall, ‘Stories with Santa’ in the Library, a Christmas market and an open-air ice rink.  Canalside pubs along the way include: the Blue Lias pub at the bottom of the Stockton Flight; and the Cuttle Inn at Long Itchington.

4. Travel through the Shropshire Lake District to Ellesmere

From our canal boat hire base at Whixall on the Prees Branch of the Llangollen Canal, it takes around four hours to reach the historic town of Ellesmere in the heart of the Shropshire Lake District.  Along the way, the route passes Lyneal Moss and Colemere Country Park.  Once at Ellesmere, there’s a choice of independent shops and restaurants, as well as formal gardens, woods and castle grounds to explore.

5. Float to through the Warwickshire countryside to Stratford-upon-Avon

From our base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it’s a six-hour cruise to Stratford-upon-Avon.  The journey takes you through the Warwickshire countryside, with 17 locks to go through. Once in Stratford, you can moor up in Bancroft Basin, just a short walk from the town’s theatres, restaurants, markets and museums.

*NB some of our routes will be affected by winter maintenance work on the canal network.