Canal Theatre follows the yellow brick road to The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel, the world’s only rotating boat lift, is to be transformed into a unique pop-up theatre venue telling two of literature’s most iconic tales this summer.

Macbeth’s Way and Wiz Around Oz, the new Canal Theatre plays from Scottish Canals, will see guests experience a unique retelling of Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’ and L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s novel set in the shadow of The Falkirk Wheel.

The new plays, produced by The Walking Theatre Company, build on the success of last year’s first-ever Canal Theatre production, The Resurrection, which saw visitors explore the eerie depths of the Union Canal’s 200-year-old Falkirk Tunnel as they learned about the grisly deeds of ‘resurrection men’ William Burke and William Hare.

More than 750 people joined the pair, who moved from Ireland to Scotland to work as ‘navvies’ constructing the Union Canal in the early 1800s, on a trip through the nation’s last-surviving original canal tunnel. 100% of attendees surveyed[1] stated that they would attend a Canal Theatre production again.

"The Falkirk Wheel is one of Scotland’s top tourism attractions but we’re always looking for unique new experiences to offer our visitors. Following its success last year, we’re delighted to bring Canal Theatre to the world’s only rotating boat lift this summer.

“Whether they’re following the yellow brick road on a family-friendly adventure through the wonderful world of Oz or exploring our rarer monsters in a tale of dark deeds, magic and madness, Canal Theatre will offer our guests an incredible experience. We look forward to welcoming them to what must be one of Scotland’s most unusual theatre venues this July."

Mark Smith, Head of Destinations and Tourism at Scottish Canals

One of Scotland’s busiest tourist attractions, The Falkirk Wheel attracts visitors from all over the world keen to marvel at the working sculpture which combines modern engineering and technology with ancient principles set out by Archimedes more than 2000 years ago. In recent years, Scottish Canals has created a range of new attractions at The Wheel, from water play parks to Segway safaris, in order to generate more income to be reinvested in caring for the nation’s 250-year-old canal network.

“The Walking Theatre Company is delighted to be heading up the Canal Theatre summer season 2018 at The Falkirk Wheel. This iconic structure, with its stunning modern design immersed in a spectacular heritage landscape, is an inspiring setting for the weaving of magical stories. I’d encourage everyone to come to The Wheel for adventure, laughter, and merry meetings along the water’s edge.”

Sadie Dixon-Spain, Playwright and Artistic Director at The Walking Theatre Company

Tickets for Wiz around Oz at The Wheel and Macbeth’s Way are available now from, with performances held on July 7th and 8th.  

[1] Based on 121 responses

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.


About The Falkirk Wheel

Opened as part of The Millennium Link, a £78 million project that restored Scotland’s inland waterways to a navigable state for the first time since the 1960s, The Falkirk Wheel replaced a flight of 11 locks that once stepped the Union Canal down to the level of the Forth & Clyde over a distance of 1.5 kilometres and took more than a day to traverse. The Falkirk Wheel allows vessels to transit between the two waterways in just a few minutes.

The working sculpture, which links the Forth & Clyde Canal to the Union Canal 35m (115ft) above, has welcomed more than 6.5 million visitors – more than the populations of Northern Ireland and Wales combined – since its opening by Her Majesty The Queen in 2002.

When one of the structure’s gondolas is lowered, the opposite one rises, keeping the vast, 1800 tonne boat lift in perfect balance as it carries canal barges 35 metres into the air in a matter of minutes. Each gondola holds 500,000 litres of water – enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool. Incredibly, because of the design and application of balance and weight, it takes just 1.5kWh – the same power as it would take to boil eight domestic kettles – for each rotation.

So iconic is its design, the International Federation of Consulting Engineers’ (FIDIC) – an organisation representing consulting engineers in more than 80 countries – judged the Wheel, alongside the likes of the Hoover Dam and The Channel Tunnel, as one of the most significant civil engineering projects of the last hundred years.

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


About The Walking Theatre Company

The Walking Theatre Company, an Argyll-based social enterprise who are committed to promoting engagement with Scotland’s landscape and heritage through walking theatre performance.


For further information, please contact:

Chris McDonald at Scottish Canals on 07917217608 or email

Lucy MacLeod at Scottish Canals on 07825035856 or email

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