Winter cruising* on the canals offers the chance to enjoy a narrowboat holiday, visiting a Christmas market in a waterside town or city.
All our boats have central heating and hot water, and some also have multi-fuel stoves. So, whatever the weather, it’s always nice and cosy on board.
Here’s a guide to our Top 5 Christmas markets to visit afloat in 2022:
1. Visit Stratford-upon-Avon’s Victorian Christmas Market
This award-winning event is scheduled to be held 8-11 December 2022. There are hundreds of stalls selling a host of seasonal products, with traders decked out in their finest Victorian costumes. There’s also a programme of live entertainment planned throughout the town. From our base on the Stratford Canal at Wootton Wawen, it’s a six-hour cruise to moorings in the centre of Stratford upon Avon.
2. Moor up for a festive break in Bath
Bath’s Christmas Market is on from 24 November to 11 December 2022, with 150 twinkling chalets lining the picturesque streets of Bath. There will be stylish homeware, handmade jewellery and personalised presents, as well as festive food and drink. From our base on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Devizes, it takes around 10 hours to reach moorings alongside Sydney Gardens. From there, it’s a 15 minute walk to Bath City Centre. The route travels nearly 20 miles and passes through 10 locks along the way.
3. Cruise to the famous Frankfurt Christmas Market in Birmingham
From 3 November to 23 December 2022, Birmingham’s Frankfurt Christmas Market will fill New Street and Victoria Square. Over 80 stalls will offer a variety of tempting food and drink, traditional toys, ornaments and gifts. There will also be live music and carol singers. From our base at Tardebigge on the Worcester & Birmingham Canal, it takes around five hours to reach moorings in Gas Street Basin in the heart of Birmingham. There are no locks to pass through along the way.
4. Experience the magical Chester Christmas Market
From 18 November to 21 December, Chester’s Town Hall Square will be filled with over 70 stalls. Vendors will be selling everything from handmade gifts and stocking fillers, to fudge, vodka and mulled wine. From our base at Bunbury on the Shropshire Union Canal near Tarporley in Cheshire, it takes seven hours to cruise to Chester. There are nine locks to pass through along the way.
5. Navigate to the Whitchurch Silk Mill Christmas Fair
On 3 and 4 December, the Whitchurch Silk Mill will host a weekend Christmas Fair, with a variety of stalls in the Mill grounds. From Drifters’ narrowboat hire centre on the Llangollen Canal at Blackwater Meadow, it takes around five hours to reach Whitchurch. The journey travels 12 miles through the beautiful Shropshire Lake District.
*Please note that winter maintenance on the canals will affect some of our routes for part of the winter