Canal Carnival to celebrate re-opening of Forth & Clyde Canal

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 re-opening of the Forth & Clyde Canal to sea-to-sea traffic is a momentous occasion and there’s no better way to celebrate it than with a flotilla featuring the huge array of users who enjoy using the historic waterway.

“The Canal Carnival is the ideal way to showcase our vibrant, thriving waterways and the fantastic destinations along their banks. The flotilla will pave the way for similar events in 2020 during Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters and again in 2022 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Union Canal and the 20th anniversary of The Falkirk Wheel.

“The canal is as relevant today as it was when it was first carved across the heart of Scotland 250-years-ago and continues to deliver lasting health, social, and environmental benefits for the communities on its banks. Ensuring continued usage by boats is a vital part of protecting that legacy into the future.

“I’d encourage everyone, whether they travel on our canals by boat, canoe, kayak or pedalo, to get involved and help us celebrate the reopening of the incredible Forth & Clyde.”

Catherine Topley, Chief Executive of Scottish Canals

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 Kirkintillochthe ‘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 for further details.

Updates on the event will be posted on Scottish Canals’ website and social media channels as plans progress.

Notes to Editors

About Scottish Canals

Scottish Canals is responsible to the Scottish Government for the management and development of the Union, Monkland, Forth & Clyde, Crinan and Caledonian Canals. As well as the waterways themselves, Scottish Canals care for bridges, buildings, locks, The Falkirk Wheel, The Kelpies and water supply reservoirs in locations across Scotland. The reservoirs cover an area equivalent to 7,494 football pitches and supply the canals with the 332 million litres of water which flow through them each day.

The Forth & Clyde, Union and Monkland canals in the Lowlands, the Crinan Canal in Argyll and the Caledonian Canal in the Highlands together extend over 137 miles from coast to coast, across country and into the cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

Built two hundred years ago to fire the Industrial Revolution, today the canals contribute to the Scottish Government agenda of developing a Greener; Healthier; Smarter; Safer and Stronger; and Wealthier and Fairer Scotland by acting as a catalyst for sustainable economic development, regeneration and tourism; contributing to education, biodiversity, heritage and promoting active living and healthier lifestyles. The Forth & Clyde, Union, Monkland, Caledonian and Crinan canals are recognised as Scheduled Monuments and attract 22million visits per year.

For more information, visit or follow @ScottishCanals on Twitter.

For further information, please contact:

Chris McDonald at Scottish Canals on 07917217608 or email

Josie Saunders at Scottish Canals on 07881816283 or email

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