Britain’s canals and rivers host hundreds of exciting events each year, bringing people to the waterways and celebrating the things that make them special.
These events make great destinations for canal boat holiday-makers, so we’ve put together our top nine events for 2022, along with information on our nearest canal boat hire bases:
- Easter Boat Gathering, Friday 15 April to Monday 18 April
The annual Easter Boat Gathering at the National Waterways Museum at Ellesmere Port marks the official start of the cruising season. Over the weekend, dozens of boats will moor up across the Museum’s seven-acre site and visitors can enjoy live music, children’s activities, workshop tours and historic boats. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire bases are at Bunbury and Anderton, both on the Shropshire Union Canal.
- IWA Canalway Cavalcade, Saturday 30 April to Monday 2 May
This annual event at Little Venice celebrates the best in life on the waterways in London. The event includes live music, an illuminated boats procession and kids’ entertainment. Drifters’ nearest base is at Aldermaston on the Kennet & Avon Canal.
- St Richard’s Canal Festival, Friday 29 April to Monday 2 May
This annual event organised by the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Society takes place in Vines Park alongside the Droitwich Barge Canal. Visitors can enjoy live music, boats, classic cars, art workshops, community stalls, a real ale bar and the annual ‘Great Droitwich Duck Race’ with over 1,000 plastic ducks competing. Drifters’ nearest canal boat rental bases are Worcester and Stoke Prior.
- Rickmansworth Canal Festival, Saturday 21 May to Sunday 22 May
Celebrating canals, the community and the environment, the annual Rickmansworth Canal Festival attracts over 100 canal boats from across the country. Occupying part of the Aquadrome and the Grand Union Canal towpath between Stockers Lock and Batchworth Lock, the event hosts a range of music, performing arts, displays, presentations, traders and catering. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Grand Union Canal at Braunston.
- Crick Boat Show, Friday 3 June to Sunday 5 June
Three hundred exhibitors will gather at Crick Marina on the Leicester Line of the Grand Union Canal near Daventry, to showcase thousands of inland waterways products and services across the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Weekend. Now Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival, Crick Boat Show offers visitors free boat trips, over 50 boats to look around, live music and a wide variety of food and drink stalls. Drifters’ nearest narrow boat hire bases are at Gayton, Braunston and Market Harborough.
- Chester Dragon Boat Festival, Sunday 10 July
This annual and very colourful charity event on the River Dee in Chester sees over 20 dragon boat teams of up to 16 paddlers and a drummer battling to become the champions. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat hire rental centres are Bunbury, Anderton and Brewood.
- Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod, Thursday 7 July to Sunday 10 July
Every year thousands of people descend on the pretty town of Llangollen on the Llangollen Canal to celebrate dance, music, costume and culture. The Llangollen Eisteddfod is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year with four days of live music events, including Alec Jones and Russell Watson performing together to open the programme. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire bases are at Trevor, Chirk and Blackwater Meadow.
- Stone Food & Drink Festival, Friday July 15 to Sunday 17 July 2022
Staffordshire’s biggest celebration of all things gastronomic takes place at the Georgian market town of Stone on the Trent & Mersey Canal. The festival will host cookery demonstrations and talks, licensed bars, street food, live music and family fun. Drifters’ nearest narrowboat rental bases are Great Haywood, Brewood and Peak District.
- Stratford upon Avon Food Festival, Saturday 17 September to Sunday 18 September
This two day annual event in Shakespeare’s Stratford offers cooking demonstrations, workshops, food stalls, live entertainment and competitions. Drifters’ nearest canal boat hire base is on the Stratford Canal at Wotton Wawen.