The historic Forth & Clyde Canal will spring to life this May as a floating festival to celebrate its re-opening to coast-to-coast boat traffic takes to the water.
Organised by canal custodians Scottish Canals in partnership with various canal-focused voluntary bodies, the Lowland Canal Carnival will see a flotilla of steam boats, yachts, narrowboats, rowing boats, canoes and kayaks travel through the canal over the Bank Holiday weekend of the 24th to 26th May. A trio of public events will also take place on the banks of the canal at The Falkirk Wheel, Auchinstarry Marina in Kilsyth, and Kirkintilloch in East Dunbartonshire – the ‘Canal Capital’ of Scotland.
The Carnival, inspired by the award-winning events held to celebrate the tenth anniversaries of the opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal and The Falkirk Wheel, recognises the success in attracting additional Scottish Government funding to upgrade Bonnybridge and Twechar lift bridges. The bridges were previously closed to boat traffic in early 2018 when routine inspections raised concerns over the safety of their mechanisms.
Works to modernise and repair the bridges, made possible thanks to £1.625 million additional funding from the Scottish Government, will be complete by Spring 2019. The Canal Carnival is intended as a way to thank all those who helped make the case for additional funding.
The flotilla will gather at The Falkirk Wheel on the evening of Friday May 24th for a festival of food, drink and music. On the morning of Saturday May 25th they will travel to Auchinstarry for another gathering, before setting off on Sunday May 26th to Kirkintilloch – the ‘Canal Capital’ of Scotland – and the final event of the flotilla. Following the event, boaters are invited to explore and enjoy the many wonders of the Lowland Canals network, from beautiful Bowling Harbour at the Firth of Clyde to Edinburgh Quay in the heart of the capital.
Ronnie Rusack, Chair of the Canal Carnival steering group, said: “The Scottish Lowland Canals are there for all to use, whether on the bank or on the water, and I’d urge everyone to join us in celebrating our waterways at the carnival.
“It’s set to be a great weekend and is the perfect excuse to get out on the calm waters and traffic-free towpaths of your local canal, dress up and have fun, and join the hundreds of volunteers who work tirelessly to safeguard this wonderful asset and preserve it for future generations to enjoy.”
Boaters, kayakers and canoeists looking to take part in the event are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org for further details.
Updates on the event will be posted on Scottish Canals’ website and social media channels as plans progress.