2 June 2023

Interested in joining the committee? Click here!

The early bank holiday in May saw the 40th anniversary celebration of the annual Canalway Cavalcade festival taking place in Little Venice, London. Glorious weather on the opening day of Canalway Cavalcade 2023 saw over 8,000 visitors to the event with 120 boats shimmering in the Pool and along the Grand Union Canal. People from all walks of life came together to share their passion for waterways with narrowboats, both modern and historic, moored alongside widebeam boats in the Pool. Continuous cruisers, liveaboards, and leisure boaters, locals and those from further afield gathered to highlight why it is so important that we #ProtectOurWaterways at this time of urgent need.

The long weekend included a packed schedule as always with a unique selection of events and activities. Stallholders and food stands brought a variety of crafts and interest to the event this year, most being based locally to Little Venice. Particular highlights included many regular attendees such as hand-woven baskets made by WoodWoolWillow, Peruvian delights by Inkas Craft, Handmade by Janet, and our regular Candle Powered Victorian Steamboats. Visitors were treated to many delicious treats too, including the vibrant Caribbean Hut, mouth-watering Mr Bombay and the delectable Greek Souvlaki. As with each year we also welcomed the ever-professional Jervis team and their real ale bar, the perfect place to enjoy the afternoon in the sunshine.

At 1.30 on our first day Libby Bradshaw, Ceremonial and Children’s Activities Manager, introduced the Lord Mayor of Westminster, Councillor Hamza Taouzzale, who welcomed everyone to the City of Westminster and thanked IWA for putting on the event. Richard Parry, Chief Executive of Canal and River Trust followed with his thanks. Our National Chairman, Les Etheridge, welcomed everyone to the event, paying special attention to the dedication of volunteers for organising the event. And finally Tom Claydon, Chair of the Organising Committee, thanked the volunteers, Committee members and supporters whilst also encouraging attendees to volunteer for our 2024 event. Wrapping up the presentation, Libby asked Councillor Hamza Taouzzale to ring the bell to formally open the festival. This was echoed by cheers around the Pool, the ringing of bells and horns, and the start of the Pageant.

In Rembrandt Gardens children and adults alike were entertained by Punch and Judy, a circus workshop, and the legendary Alarum Theatre with pieces such as “A Century of Boatwomen”. Faces were being painted and there was plenty of learning and joviality in the marquee over the weekend. Sunday saw the wonderful Teddy Bears’ picnic in the beautiful surrounds of the garden and the sun warmed the crowds almost the whole weekend. Other children and young people’s activities were led by the Pirate Castle from Camden, with Paddlesports taking place across the 2023 Canalway Cavalcade weekend. 

This year the evenings brought a vibrant celebration of boating too. Friday night was the regular quiz, a packed tent for our annual Martin Ludgate extravaganza – raising nearly £100 from the raffle for the IWA. Saturday night saw the first variety night led by Mark Saxon our Commercial Manager, welcoming 25 brilliant artists performing spoken word and live music. On Sunday evening Craig Haslam once again excelled as Master of Ceremonies for the Procession of Illuminated Boats, where the boaters covered their craft with as many lights as would fit to the delight of hundreds of spectators standing on the Horse Bridge and around the Pool. A particular highlight included the Canal Dream Company and Slash Arts aboard the Boat Fit Co widebeam 2 Crew and A Cockapoo whose awe-inspiring laser, light and interpretive movement display blew the spectators away. We were delighted to welcome the Canal Dream Company for the second year, their programme throughout the 2023 Canalway Cavalcade weekend thrilled everyone who saw their performances and we thank them so much for their participation.

On Monday afternoon, the 2023 Canalway Cavalcade awards were presented by John Edmonds, Vice President of IWA London Region.

Marcus Boudier Trophy

For the best decorated privately entered boat in Saturday’s themed Pageant, was awarded to Chedoona owned by Bob and Mary Metcalf

Runner up: Thyme, owned by Elizabeth Jones

The Ray Dunford Buckby Can Trophy

For the best decorated boat entered by a waterway or community group:

Sola Gratia, steerer Tim Clarke

The Cruise Electric Trophy

For the best illuminated boat in Sunday evening’s Procession:

Tros Yr Afon, steerer Phil Gaskell

Runners up: The Canal Dream Company and the Slash Arts Team aboard 2 Crew and a Cockapoo, owned by Calum Henderson

The Graham Capelin Award

For the best entry by a boater who has not previously taken part in either the Saturday Pageant or Illuminated Boats:

Badger, owned by Naomi Goldsmith Dixon

Runner up: Lucky Chance, owned by Chris Pratt

The Westminster Trophy

Donated by the City of Westminster for the winner of the Boat Handling Competition:

Middlesex, steerer Robin Hendley

Runner up: Emu, steerer Ben Partridge

The Roger Squires Trophy

Presented by St Pancras Cruising Club in recognition of Roger’s 10 years as their Commodore, it is awarded to the best novice competitor in the Boat Handling Competition:

Moonraker, steerer Daniel McKnight

Runner up: Badger, steered by Naomi Goldsmith Dixon

The Mike Stevens Memorial Trophy

Goes to the “Best Boat” at Canalway Cavalcade, selected from all the boat entries at the event, it is awarded in recognition of Mike’s outstanding contribution to IWA and Canalway Cavalcade during his lifetime:

Tugby, owned by George Cutting

The Idle Women Shield

Sponsored by Jan Knox, proprietor of Canal Experience Training School, the shield was awarded to Freebird, steered by Cath Jennings

Runner up: Uplander II, steered by Sarah Honeysett

The Vic Trott Memorial Trophy

Awarded for the best Boaters’ Sunday Best costume. This year, it was awarded to the Moore family.

Tom Claydon, Chairman of the IWA Canalway Cavalcade Organising Committee said:

It’s wonderful to welcome everyone to the 40th Anniversary of IWA Canalway Cavalcade, an incredible milestone for this unique spectacle in the heart of London’s waterways. This event would not be possible without the 10,000 hours of dedicated volunteer time, and I thank each and every person for making this such a great success. Soon we start planning for 2024 and we need you to join us to make it happen! Find out how on our website.

Details about next year’s event will be released shortly. In the meantime, read on to find out how you can join the fantastic team behind this event.

Canalway Cavalcade 2023 - Tom Claydon

Join the Committee

Do you love Canalway Cavalcade and would like to be a part of the team behind the scenes?

We are incredibly thankful for all of their hard work and dedication as a huge amount of effort goes into organising an event of this scale. In order for it to go ahead next year, we urgently need to fill several vacancies on our organising committee.

Roles include:

  • Chair of the committee
  • Marketing & Publicity Manager and Assistant
  • Liaison Officer
  • Commercial Manager
  • Secretary
  • Treasurer
  • Site & Services Assistant

There is already a superb team in place but we need extra support to make sure no one becomes overloaded. Having the organising committee at full capacity will ensure that Canalway Cavalcade remains a really fun and interesting event to be involved with!

Additional information including job roles are available on request. All vacancies are voluntary roles. Meetings are held once a month on Zoom and become more frequent in the run up to the event.

If you fancy getting involved, please contact us with a short description of your experience/interests. Make sure to indicate which role you think would suit you best.