The month of May is almost upon us, with the promise of sunny days and summer close behind. It is also apparently the month chosen for local canal festivals.
If anyone has ever been into Paddington on the May bank holiday, you might have noticed a strange increase in the amount of bunting, people dressed as pirates and folk music.
This isn’t (just) a hippy stag weekend, but instead the annual Canalway Cavalcade in Little Venice.
Little Venice is the area of central London overlooking Browning’s Pool, which is the wide stretch of canal (complete with goose-infested island) where the Grand Union Canal and Regent’s Canal meet.
Every May since 1983 it has hosted the Canalway Cavalcade: a free pageant with stalls, real ale stands, crafts, competitions, morris dancers and music. Hundreds of boats line the canals and the pool, which is a sight to see even if you’re allergic to morris dancing.
My family used to head down to Little Venice every year and I have many happy memories of racing amongst the decorated boats, eating far too many honey-roasted nuts and listening to bands play in the warm spring evening.
Once I took part in the boat-steering competition, aged seven (I was unfairly beaten to first place by an older boy with a shorter boat.)
A couple of weeks after the Cavalcade, the boats all turn around and head off in the other direction for the Rickmansworth festival.
This is a similar event which takes place between Batchworth Lock and the Aquadrome, with boats, stalls of traders, art displays and the necessary exceptional food and (often ale-based) drink.
Both are free to enter, so if you’re debating how to spend one of those long-awaited warm weekends, I would highly recommend heading down for a family day out.
More info can be found at: http://www.rwt.org.uk/festival/ and https://www.waterways.org.uk/events_festivals/canalway_cavalcade_2013/canalway_cavalcade_2013