Beloved of walkers, cyclists, fishermen and joggers – not to mention wildlife – canals are among Manchester’s best kept secrets. These inland waterways spread across the country during the Industrial Revolution, but were left to decline in the later decades of the 20th Century as transport by water went out of fashion. The annual Canal Festival, which starts on Thursday 16 August, aims to help bring these watery wonders up in the world again, offering free, fun and informative activities for all the family. Events will take place along the entire 32-mile stretch of the canal, from Sowerby Bridge (pictured) in West Yorkshire to Manchester city centre. Expect the obvious – including horse-drawn boat rides and guided walks – as well as a few surprises. Highlights include local food tasting and art workshops at the Calderdale end, angling and kayaking lessons in east Manchester, canoeing, recycled sculptures and promenade theatre in Oldham, and den-making, a chance to try your hand at canal maintenance and a mass bike ride in the area around Rochdale. Piccadilly Basin in Manchester city centre hosts a boat hostel, boat theatre, the world’s first permanent Lomography wall and even a floating cinema, which will be screening, appropriately enough, The Life Aquatic. It might be over 200 years old, but the Rochdale Canal is definitely moving with the times.

Thu 16 Aug – Sat 26 Aug, Various locations and times, FREE,

Photo: Tim Green

Thu 16 Aug - Sun 26 Aug
Natalie Bradbury
Published on:
Mon 13 Aug 2012