May canal events
What’s on in May: Canalside events to look forward to
Who doesn’t love May? It’s the month when summer finally starts to show its fair face, when blossom coats the hedgerows, when the sun shines late into the evening, when wearing shorts and flipflops becomes a reality, rather than a distant dream.
It is the month when the British countryside blooms, literally, bathing passersby in the sweet honeyed scents.
It is also the month when villages, towns and cities burst into life with the first of the summer’s fetes, festivals, carnivals and other colourful events all making May a busy few weeks.
In short, it is the perfect month to plan a canal boat holiday and explore some of the beautiful historic waterways which crisscross much of the UK.
To help you in planning your narrowboat break, here is a selection of just some of wonderful things taking place along the canals of England and Wales this May:
3rd to 5th May
Bristol Folk Festival, Bristol: River Avon
The best talent from the UK’s folk music scene serenade audiences across Bristol over the May bank holiday weekend. This year’s line up includes Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly & the Lost Boys and Lady Maisery with gigs held at St Stephen’s Church, Bristol Folk House and the beautiful St George’s. There will also be workshops and after hours sessions at other venues across the city.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bath
May 3rd to 9th
Leamington Music Festival, Leamington Spa: Grand Union Canal
The newly revamped Royal Pump Rooms offer a spectacular setting for this festival of chamber music which attracts fans from all over the UK and beyond. Violinist Tamsin Little and Russian pianist Andrey Gugnin will launch a stellar festival line up which will see exquisite music provided by organist Jonathan Cunliffe, the Aronowitz Ensemble, Roderick Williams and many more.
4th May to 6th May
Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice, London: Regent’s Canal
Taking place in Little Venice since 1983, the Inland Waterway Association’s Canalway Calvacade is one of the biggest and best canal festivals in the UK. Hundreds of narrowboats and other canal craft decorated with bunting line up along the Grand Union and Regents Canal providing the backdrop to a weekend of live music, dancing and fabulous food and drink. A highlight is the boat ‘pageant’ which sees boats competing for the best décor with a different theme each year.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford
4th May to 6th May
Skipton Waterway Festival, Skipton: Leeds & Liverpool Canal
Thousands of visitors descend upon Skipton over the May Bank Holiday to see dozens of decorated narrowboats line the canal basin and surrounding towpaths. There will be a full programme of entertainment over three days with children’s activites and rides, as well as craft stalls and delicious food and drink.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Silsden
4th to 7th May
St Richard’s Canal Festival, Droitwich: Droitwich Canal
Launched in 2007, this family festival which takes place across Vines Park in Droitwich and the historic town centre, has grown to include street markets and exhibitions, live entertainment and a vintage car rally alongside the canal boat gathering. The festival culminates with ‘The Great Droitwich Duck Race’ at 4.30pm on the Monday afternoon.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Tardebigge
8th to 10th May
The Boodles May Festival at Chester Racecourse, Chester: Shropshire Union Canal
The 2019 Chester racing season starts with the prestigious Boodles May Festival which takes place over three days and kick-starts the racing calendar in style. It starts with City Day on the Wednesday followed by the hats, frocks and thrills of Ladies Day and finishing with Chester Cup Day on the friday.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury
11th to 12th May
40s Weekend at Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens, Castle Bromwich: Birmingham & Fazeley Canal
Step back in time to a wartime era of with a weekend of stories, music and vintage fun. This is a great excuse to dig out that retro or fancy dress, get dancing to some swing music and admire some classic cars and more. Entertainment will be provided by Kevin Mack, George Formby Experience and the Bluebird Belles while re-enactors from the Home Front include Peggy Skivvy, Victory Belles WI and the Bevan Boys and reminders of the fighting forces will be provided by Pathfinders, Red Caps and more. Tickets are £5 and can be bought on the door.
17th to 26th May
The Bath Festival, Bath: The Kennet & Avon Canal
Running over 11 days in May, this annual celebration of music, literature and spoken word brings Bath to life with a rich array of concerns and performances. Traditionally the festival opens with the ‘Party in the City’ when dozens of parks and venues across the city host live bands and solo artists throughout the evening for everyone to enjoy. The programme then showcases an amazingly rich array of world famous musicians, writers and cultural figures. This year will see stars including Sir Michael Parkinson, Dame Darcey Bussell and Jo Brand entertaining audiences across Bath.
18th May to 19th May
Rickmansworth Canal Festival: Grand Union Canal
This celebration of canals, community and the environment brings together hundreds of traditional narrowboats and other craft from different eras together from across the country. At least 20,000 visitors come to Rickmansworth to enjoy the boats, music, performances, displays and colourful range of traders.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Oxford
18th to 19th May
The Independent Birmingham Festival at the Bond, Birmingham: Grand Union Canal
Birmingham’s best independent local food traders gather to tickle the tastebudes of all visitors to this two day culinary celebration, organised by Independent Birmingham and Birmingham Seasonal Markets. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular line up of pop up restaurants, cocktail bars, street food, craft beer, fine wine all to a backdrop of great music. For those arriving via narrowboat the Bond sits conveniently right on the canalside.
25th May to 27th May
The Crick Boat Show: Grand Union Canal
Britain’s biggest inland waterways festival with more than 27,000 visitors last year, the Crick Boat Show bring together over 280 exhibitors, dozens of boats of all ages, dimensions and styles, talks by boating experts, boat trips and boat handling taster sessions all topped off with great live music and food and drink to get everyone in a celebratory mood. Now in its 20th year, this boat show is a great day out for all the family.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Stockton
25th May to 26th May
Birmingham Pride, Hurst Street, Birmingham: Grand Union Canal and many others
The biggest two-day LGBT party in the UK, Birmingham Pride is a weekend of flamboyant fun with colourful Carnival Parade through the city centre and live music from a fantastic line up including Years & Years, Lady Leshurr and Mabel. Alongside the main stage, the ‘Gay Village’ also features a dance arena, cabaret marquee, funfair, community village green, central market street, and the friendliest street party for all.
25th to 27th May
The Rock and Bowl Music Festival, Market Drayton: Shropshire Union Canal
A fantastic boutique, family friendly music festival with more than 33 bands over three days showcasing the best in new talent and established acts. Last year saw around 5000 people soak up the sun and music and this year promises to get even bigger. The line up so far includes top tribute acts from The Stones, Re-Take That and Queen tribute, Mercury.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Bunbury
26 to 27th May
World of Wedgewood Food and Drink Festival, Barlaston, Stoke on Trent: Trent & Mersey Canal
A celebration of all things delicious, independent food producers and street food traders will ply their wares at the World of Wedgewood over two days. Foodies can combine tasting wonderful local food and enjoying live music with exploring the historic pottery centre which provides a fascinating insight into what was once the region’s key industry and remains a famous English brand to this day.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: Great Haywood
25th May to 2nd June
Wars of the Roses Live at Warwick Castle, Warwick: Grand Union Canal
Travel back to 1455 when the House of Lancaster’s hold on the English throne under King Henry VI is challenged by the House of York. The rival houses clash in battle leading to a war that lasted more than 30 years. The legendary Wars of the Roses is played out before audiences during an epic live action show at Warwick Castle. Experience a spectacle never seen before in the UK, complete with perilous stunt riders, fearless jousting and state of the art special effects. The show takes place every day throughout half term.
31st May to 2nd June
Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show: River Thames
This is a must visit for anyone who loves boats in all their forms, with three days of ‘simply messing about in boats’ in this beautiful lake next to the River Thames. Visitors can admire classic boats, wooden boats, fibre glass boats, motor boats, sailing boats and much more with boat trips and rides. For any members of the family less keen on boats, there is also a vintage vehicle rally and many more land-based activities to enjoy.
Nearest Anglo Welsh base: OxfordTags: Anglo Welsh, bank holidays, barge, boating, canal holidays, Canals, Holidays, May, Staycation, summer, waterway