The event is the largest annual gathering of trailable boats in the UK and has been held annually since the first gathering in 1989 on the Lancaster Canal, although, owing to the pandemic, there has been a gap of five years since the previous event, held in 2019, also on the Lancaster Canal. The event has previously been held on the Ashby Canal in 2000, 2009 and 2017.
The 2024 Festival will take place at the historic Moira Furnace, on the restored length of the Ashby Canal in northwest Leicestershire, DE12 6AT. As well as a large gathering of trailable boats on this northernmost and isolated section of the Ashby Canal there will be a wide range of activities and attractions. A Beatles tribute band will include songs from the beginning of the Beatles fame to the end, with costume changes over their twice daily performances. There will be a trad jazz band, Morris dancing will liven things up; with children’s conjuring fun and entertainment, train rides, a variety of stalls and demonstrations, classic cars, historic engines, boats, bar and refreshments. The organisers hope to have a visit from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, and Mother Duck will be there with her ducklings for visitors to enter a duck in the duck race along the Ashby Canal! The organisers have also invited the Military Wives Choirs from Nottingham and Cottesmore. The Military Wives Choirs became famous under the tutelage of Gareth Malone, on BBC television, and have now been formed groups over many locations. An illuminated boat parade is due to take place on the Saturday evening. All this will revolve around the banks of the Ashby Canal at the Grade 2 listed Moira Furnace at the heart of the National Forest.
The festival will raise money for the Ashby Canal Restoration Project. The long-term aim is to restore the Ashby Canal from its current terminus at Snarestone to Moira. This major project will ultimately reconnect Measham, Oakthorpe, Donisthorpe and Moira to the national waterways network, and provide a green gateway to the Heart of the National Forest. The Ashby Canal Trust supports the restoration of the Ashby Canal. Proceeds from the festival will assist the further restoration of the canal and contribute to the upkeep of the canal around the site of the Moira Canal Festival, for people to enjoy throughout the year.
IWA currently has a Silver Propeller Challenge location on the Ashby Canal at the end of the connected length in order to encourage visiting boaters to use as much of the canal as possible. We are looking forward to moving it to Moira once the isolated length is restored and reconnected.
Boat entry details from firstname.lastname@example.org; Trade booking enquiries to email@example.com; classic vehicle entry bookings to firstname.lastname@example.org; general enquiries to email@example.com.
IWA is currently inviting applications from waterways groups to host the 2025 and 2026 festivals – enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.