Christmas on the canals: what's on this December
PUBLISHED: 13:37 01 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:26 05 December 2016
The halls are getting decked, the bells will be jingled and Santa Claus is checking his list - the festive season is upon us. So hats, scarves, gloves and thick winter coats on, because it may not be a white Christmas but the UK's waterways promise to make it wonderful
Here are just some of the events taking place on the canals this Christmas...
National Waterways Museum Ellesmere Port
Festive cheer at the National Waterways Museum kicks off on Friday 2 December with ‘Carols by the Canal’, an evening of music and readings.
From Saturday 17 December until Christmas Eve, families can join Santa for a 30-minute cruise on the Shropshire Union, where the young ones can pick up an early present and the big kids can enjoy a mince pie.
And why not combine the cruise with a show? On Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 December (and a special performance at 2.30pm on Christmas Eve), Chalice Media present A Christmas Canal. Inspired by Dickens’ perennial favourite, a surly dock manager is shown the meaning of Christmas.
Bradford-on-Avon hosts its first Christmas floating market on the K&A this weekend, 3-4 December. Trade boats will sell handmade crafts, jewellery, gifts – and keep patrons going with mulled wine and roasted chestnuts – while singers, storytellers and Santa bring the wharf to life.
The Roving Canal Traders Association will be in central Birmingham from 10-18 December for its Christmas Floating Market, turning Brindleyplace on the Birmingham Canal Navigations into a feast for the senses.
Standedge Tunnel, Huddersfield, and London’s Limehouse Marina will also offer delightful shopping experiences from 10-11 December.
Jolly old Saint Nick is busy this time of year, but cruising the canals across the country is a breeze compared to delivering presents across the globe in one night.
Special Christmas cruises with Santa Claus are at, to name a few, Chichester Canal Basin, the Chesterfield, Anderton Boat Lift and Dudley Tunnel, which includes a special trip to Santa’s underground grotto! Booking is essential.
Lion Salt Works, next to the Trent & Mersey near Northwich, is going all Dickensian with its festive weekend on 10-11 December. Historic steam engines Lady Louise and Alexander, Morris dancing, carol singers, traditional crafts – such as bodging, weaving, spinning, felt making and crocheting – and story-telling with Victorian professor Josiah Mace and his ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ will all set a festive mood.
Foxton Locks, on the Grand Union at Market Harborough, will be lit up on Saturday 17 December by the first ever Illuminated Boat Fest. The free festivities begin at 3pm with lantern making and boat trips and once it’s dark, there will be an illuminated boat parade and pyrotechnic show. There is a £250 voucher for the best dressed boat too!
The extraordinary engineering feat that is the Falkirk Wheel is putting on a programme of events and activities throughout December. Visitors can try their hand at wreath making, sand art, chutney tasting (or beer tasting, if so inclined) and animal handling.
National Waterways Museum Gloucester
Gloucester Quays has been transformed season, with its ever-popular Victorian market and, for the first time, an ice rink. It will be festive fun for all, whether practicing triple salchows or just trying to stay upright.
The G&S will also be home to Santa’s floating grotto on 10-11 and 17-24 December. Departing from the National Waterways Museum, the boat King Arthur will take a 45-minute cruise.
Canoeists are invited to Eldonian Village on Saturday 10 December and Eanam Wharf, Blackburn, on Sunday 11 December for a paddle along the canals – but only if they’re going to come dressed as Santa.
All abilities are welcome but those taking part must bring their own boats or book one to guarantee a spot.