Christmas on the canal 2021: floating markets & festive boat trips 

Chesterfield Canal Trust santa cruises

The Chesterfield Canal Trust's Santa cruises are great for kids - Credit: Chesterfield Canal Trust

Find out which festive events are running on the canals this Christmas, from festive floating markets to special Santa boat trips with presents for kids! 

Chesterfield Canal Trust santa cruise

All smiles as Santa is collected to give out the gifts - Credit: Chesterfield Canal Trust

Chesterfield Canal Trust 
Santa cruises

All the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s tripboats will be running Santa Special cruises in December. All children get a present; all adults get a seasonal drink and a mince pie or similar. It's all for a very good cause too, as they're a charity raising cash to restore the currently disused sections of the canal. 
Cruises are as follows: 

  • John Varley ll will be running Santa cruises from Tapton Lock in Chesterfield on Saturdays and Sundays (4th/5th, 11th/12th and 18th/19th December) plus Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd December. To book, please ring 01629 533020. 
  • Madeline will be running Santa cruises from Hollingwood Hub on Saturdays and Sundays (4th/5th, 11th/12th and 18th/19th December). To book, please ring 07708 050171. 
  • Hugh Henshall will be running Santa cruises from Shireoaks on Saturdays and Sundays (4th/5th, 11th/12th and 18th/19th December) plus Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd December. 
  • To book, please email hughhenshall@chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk or ring 0114 360 0460 and leave a message. 
  • Seth Ellis will be running Santa cruises from the Chequers Inn at Ranby on Saturdays and Sundays (4th/5th, 11th/12th and 18th/19th December) plus Wednesday 22nd, Thursday 23rd and Friday 24th December. 
  • To book, please email sethellis@chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk or ring 07925 851569.  

Cost: All fares are £8. Booking is essential. 
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Wilts and Berks Canal Trust 
Santa boat trip

A boat trip on the Dragonfly to find Santa, who gets on board and presents each child with their own individually wrapped present. Trips will run every weekend from Saturday Nov 27th until Sunday Dec 19th. Keep an eye on the website as they may add extra trips in December, dependant on demand. Trip times are 10:15, 11:00, 11:45, 1:15, 2:00 and 2:45. 
Cost: £12 for children, £6 for adults. Pre-booking essential.  
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The Roving Canal Traders Association (Northamptonshire Canal)
Floating Christmas market
 
The event, organised by The Roving Canal Traders Association, will take place on the Grand Union Canal opposite Blisworth Narrowboats between bridges 50 and 51. The market will run from 10am on Saturday, November 27 to 4pm on Sunday December 5. 
A spokesman for the association said: "There will be lots of trading boats with interesting crafts on sale showing amazing talent and a range of fantastic unique items available for you to buy for Christmas." 
Cost: Just turn up! 
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Whaley Bridge Canal
Floating Christmas market
A floating Christmas market at Whaley Bridge Canal, with food, arts and crafts. The market will be held on 11 December from 10am-3pm. 
Cost: Just turn up! 
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Whaley Bridge Canal
Whaley Winter Tales (canalside story-telling)
Christmas storytelling with shadow puppets taking place in the historic canal Transhipment Warehouse. Shows run from Wednesday 15th to Saturday 18th at 5pm, 6.15pm and 7.30pm.
Visit for more info and to book

Roving Canal Traders Association (Shropshire Union Canal Canal, Nantwich) 
Floating Christmas market

Another floating market hosted by the RCTA. Again, there will be lots of amazing crafts and unique items on offer, along with food and festivities. It will start at 10am on Saturday November 27th and run until 4pm on Sunday December 5th. 
Cost: Just turn up! 
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Wey and Arun Canal Trust 
Santa cruises

The Wey and Arun Canal Trust will be running their special Santa cruises throughout December. The 40 minute trips include seasonal refreshments and a present for children under 12, while 12-15 year olds will receive a chocolate gift. Please give ages of children when booking! Trips will run on 4th, 5th, 11th, 12th, 18th, 19th, 20th, 21st and 22nd December, all starting at 12 noon.  
Cost: £14 for adult, £14 for child. Pre-booking essential. 
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Cotswold Canals Restoration
Santa cruises
This December Cotswold Canals Trust are bringing back their much-loved boat trips with Santa, starting at the Saul Junction Visitor Centre near Frampton-on-Severn on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. For the first time they will be on the Trust's accessible all-electric boat Adventure. Santa and Rudolph will be visiting on weekends throughout December from 11am-3pm, and the boat trips are 20 minutes. Last trips leave at 3pm.
Cost: £7 each (this includes a gift for each child). There is no advance booking, please just turn up.
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Kennet and Avon Canal Trust
Santa trips

Join the team for a one-hour festive cruise along the Kennet and Avon Canal. Father Christmas will be there and refreshments will be provided for all. Trips start from Canal Walk, Hungerford, RG17 0EQ (just off the High Street) and return there an hour later. Three trips will be available on Saturdays and Sundays from 11-19 December (at 11am, 1pm and 3pm), with three trips also available on Thursday 23 December (at 11am, 1pm and 3pm) and two trips on Friday 24 December (at 11pm and 1pm). Pre-booking is required.
Cost: Ticket price £10, this includes a gift for each child.
Visit for more info and to book