Easter Boat Gathering Festival

Published: Monday, 13 March 2023

DOZENS of historic boats from across the country will congregate at the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port this Easter for the annual Easter Boat Gathering Festival.

Hosted by the Canal & River Trust, the four-day festival offers visitors the opportunity to get up close to fascinating old working boats as well as the latest leisure narrowboats and enjoy a range of waterway-themed activities and music over the April bank holiday weekend of the 7th to 10th of April.

HistoricBoatsEllesmereRide an historic bus

New this year will be the chance to board a historic bus to ride to the museum’s off-site store of old boats, not normally open to the public, and waterway book-worms can dig for new treasure in a collection of canal, maritime and coastal volumes donated for sale by the family of prolific waterway researcher and writer Terry Kavanagh.

Located at the junction of the Manchester Ship Canal and the Shropshire Union Canal, the museum site will stage a wide range of special attractions from craft workshops, produce stalls and lock demonstrations to children’s activities and steam engines working in the Power Hall. There will also be a chance to see rare canal treasures at the National Waterways Archive, giving visitors the potential to track down their own long-lost family connections to the nation’s historic canal network.

Music will be provided by costumed buskers and the Mersey Morris Men and visitors will also be able to enjoy short boat trips along the Shropshire Union Canal, run by volunteers from the Wirral Community Narrow Boat Trust.

EllesmreKidsBoat convoy

The weekend celebration starts on Good Friday morning as the 40-strong boat convoy travels down the Shropshire Union Canal setting off from Chester city centre early morning and arriving at the Waterways Museum between 11am and 1pm.

Chris Done, Visitor Services Manager with the Canal & River Trust, enthused:

“The 2023 Easter Boat Gathering promises to be bigger and better than ever. We hope visitors will enjoy the opportunity to explore behind-the-scenes of the museum to see historic boats and heritage artefacts not normally on public display.

“For families, there is a special children’s trail, boat-themed playground and face painting. And we are very grateful to the family of Terry Kavanagh for the bequest of his incredible waterway library, which will go on sale to the public and proceeds donated to the Waterway Archive."

Special events

The museum will be open from 10am to 4pm over the Easter weekend and then seven days a week for the rest of season. Special events hosted through the year include Steampunk Sunday (16th April), Medical Marvels (14th May), World War Two (11th June) and heritage-themed Canal Town Sundays featuring characters in traditional costume (21st May, 18th June, 23rd July and 13th August). The Canal & River Trust would be delighted to hear from anyone interested in volunteering at the museum.

Adult tickets cost £11.75, concessions £10.50, children £8.50 and families £28.50. Tickets give free entrance for a year.