Scottish Canals is inviting the public to celebrate the 15th birthday of the world’s only rotating boat lift with a special party at The Falkirk Wheel.
Featuring an array of unique events, performances, and copious amounts of cake, the party on May 27th will offer fun for all the family. Visitors can go roamin’ with a Roman as the Antonine Guard’s legionnaires make an appearance on site; enjoy a performance from masters of theatrical mayhem Mischief La Bas; walk on water in the Wheel’s zorbs; set off on a Segway safari; take a turn on the Wheel; see a steamboat flotilla puff around the canal basin; dance the day away at the Central FM roadshow and much more. The event will run from 10am to 5:30pm.
For those looking to refuel during the festivities, there’ll be stone-baked pizza, artisan ice cream (including a specially-created birthday cake flavour) from Falkirk-based parlour The Milk Barn, and an array of sweet and savoury treats on offer in the Wheel’s café.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.