August bank holiday weekend canal boating events 2017

Folk on the Dock

Folk on the Dock - Credit: Archant

With the August Bank Holiday approaching and (touch wood!) the current weather forecast suggesting that there might at least be a few sunny intervals over the weekend, here are a selection of waterways events that you might be tempted to visit…

Carpenter's Road lock

Carpenter's Road lock - Credit: Archant

IWA Festival of Water, Ilkeston, Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire

Already over 120 boats are converging on the usually quiet Erewash Canal on the Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire border for the Inland Waterways Association’s annual Festival of Water which runs over the whole three-day weekend.

Organised with the objective of tempting boaters onto this underused but often attractive canal, the event will feature historic working boats, live music and dance, a display of vintage cars and buses, children’s activities (including a ‘passport’ scheme with a prize for completing all the events), craft stalls and a real ale bar run by canal volunteers.

Admission and parking are free, or you can arrive by train at the brand new Ilkeston Station and take a 30-minute towpath walk to the site.

Boats arriving for Ilkeston Festival of Water

Boats arriving for Ilkeston Festival of Water - Credit: Archant

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Carpenter’s Road Lock opening and East London Festival

It isn’t every day that you get a chance to be at the opening of a unique restored canal lock – but that’s what’s happening on the August Bank Holiday Monday in East London.

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Carpenters Road Lock was built in the 1930s as part of the Bow Back Rivers system – a little-known network of tidal channels and mill streams in East London. It fell derelict by the 1960s, and the whole system was silting up – but 30 years later a revival of these obscure waterways began. They shot to prominence when the 2012 London Olympics used the area for its main stadium site, but boats have had to wait until after the Games had ended and the Olympic Legacy work was complete before they could return.

Botany Bay Festival

Botany Bay Festival - Credit: Archant

Over the last year the waterways have been gradually opening up, and the final link is the restoration of Carpenters Road complete with new replacements of its unique radial guillotine gates at both ends.

A one-day free festival on Monday 28 August will celebrate its opening, with a boat flotilla, free boat trips, dragon boat racing, live music and dance, children’s activities, heritage walks, food stalls, an in the evening a screening of film How we used to live on the Nomad floating Cinema.

And while you’re in the area, nip down to Limehouse Basin to see the restored historic Medway tugboat Kent, which is visiting for the weekend.

Folk on the Dock, Liverpool

Liverpool’s restored Albert Dock plays host to a major festival of folk, roots and acoustic music with over 200 performers over the three days of the Bank Holiday weekend.

The South Docks, once part of the biggest connected dock system in the country, fell out of us but were rescued from the threat of demolition, connected to the canal network via the brand-new Liverpool Link Navigation, and their centrepiece the Albert Dock is now home to many of the city’s major attractions including the Maritime Museum, Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story.

For three days over the weekend, the dock is also host to a major folk and acoustic music festival on three open-air stages incorporating the Sea Shanty Festival with its own floating stages. Headline acts include Brighton-based, multi-award winning band, Moulettes; Anglo/Americana trio Wildwood Kin; former Coral guitarist, Lee Southall; Folk Awards nominees, Pilgrim’s Way; and Henry Priestman.

All sessions are free. For the full line-up see

Botany Bay Canal Festival, Chorley, Lancashire

Botany Bay, the unlikely-named shopping centre created in a converted cotton mill by the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, will once again be hosting a canal festival over the Sunday and Monday of the Bank Holiday weekend following the success of the 2016 event.

There will be boat trips available along the canal: just show up on the day for Boatel Party Cruises’ 45-minute journey on a trip-boat with refreshments; or turn up and book your time slot for Ellerbeck Narrowboats’ 40-minute trips to Johnson’s Hillock Locks giving all the family a chance to try canal boating.

The 200-year-old canal’s heritage will be represented by restored historic shortboat Kennet, built in 1947 specifically to carry cargo on the Leeds & Liverpool and now a floating museum with free admission during the festival.

There will also be a classic car display, free canoeing experiences, donkey rides for younger visitors, a mini fun fair, and entertainment by popular local musicians.

See for more.