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What’s on in 2017 – Anglo Welsh’s guide to the year’s top canal festivals

Literary giant Dr Samuel Johnson famously said that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. Here at Anglo Welsh we reckon you could say the same thing about canals! Every year there is an action-packed calendar of festivals and boat shows on the waterways near our 11 bases in England and Wales, and 2017 is no exception.

Dr Johnson’s hometown of Lichfield lies just a few miles by waterway from the historic Shropshire Union Canal, a firm favourite among holidaymakers departing from Anglo Welsh’s Great Haywood and Bunbury bases. Taking place just cruising distance from both bases is the 18th annual Audlem Festival of Transport (30th July), where a record number of vintage canal boats are expected at the Audlem Wharf next to Audlem Mill and the Shroppie Fly. For all-round transport buffs, there will also be a parade of 300+ vintage cars, vans, trucks and buses.

The Skipton Waterway Festival (29th April – 1st May) on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Anglo Welsh’s Silsden base will see narrowboats lined up along the Skipton Basin and surrounding towpaths. The North Yorkshire event also features specialist attractions like the ‘Birds of Prey’ show and the ‘Bark-ing mad wood turners’, plus a host of children’s rides. The Silsden to Skipton stretch of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs through a beautiful part of Yorkshire and offers gorgeous views of the South Pennine countryside and old stone-built villages.

The Crick Boat Show (27th – 29th May) in Northamptonshire is Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival. Visitors can take a free trip out onto the water to experience the Grand Union Canal on a vintage canal boat, and for nostalgic narrowboaters there will be a unique show of historic boats dating back as far as 1909. The Crick event is organised by Waterways World, a must-read monthly magazine that explores the UK’s waterway systems, tests the latest boats, and looks into the history and heritage of our canals.

There will certainly be plenty of canal history and heritage on offer at the Foxton Locks Festival (17th – 18th June) near Market Harborough on Anglo Welsh’s East Midlands Circuit. Waterway enthusiasts will tell you the highlight is witnessing boats getting up or down the hill through the famous Foxton locks and the amazing inclined plane, but that’s not the only thing on offer. Leicestershire’s much-loved festival boasts a fantastic range of historic boats to enjoy as well as craft marquees, a music festival and the ever-popular Fun Dog Show.

Another early summer highlight comes in the shape of the Braunston Historic Narrowboat Rally and Canal Festival (24th – 25th June) near Daventry in Northamptonshire. Over 80 historic boats will gather at the picturesque marina located on three Anglo Welsh circuits - the Warwickshire Ring, South of England Circuit and East Midlands Circuit. There they will take part in parades with expert commentary; other attractions include a real ale beer tent, boat exhibitors, waterways artists, live music, and Morris dancing.

Travelling across to Shakespeare country on Anglo Welsh’s popular Avon Ring, the Stratford-upon-Avon River Festival (1st – 2nd July) is now in its eighth year and goes from strength to strength. It’s a quintessentially English summer festival featuring a display of spectacular narrowboats, world-class live music, fun activities in the Family Zone, an artisan craft market, a delicious selection of global food stalls, and an awesome Saturday firework display.

For canal goers who enjoy spectacular festivals and thrilling boat shows, 2017 will clearly be another busy year on the UK’s waterways. To paraphrase Dr Johnson; if a man, woman or child is tired of canal festivals and Anglo Welsh narrowboats, they are tired of life!

Click here to see the full range of Anglo Welsh canal circuits on the Shropshire Union Canal, Grand Union Canal, East Midlands Circuit, the Avon Ring and more.

Anglo Welsh’s friendly staff at our 11 bases in England and Wales will be delighted to recommend the best local boating events. To book a narrowboat holiday in 2017 call our booking team on 0117 304 1122.