Latest news

April 2021

We don’t think that a full festival is possible for 2021, but we are working on small scale, family friendly, activities for late summer. Watch this space!

18 August 2020

With no possibility of a Burnley Canal Festival on the forthcoming Bank Holiday weekend, the BCF partners want to give Festival followers an update on plans for the future.

Last year, while building work took over the Festival’s main site, organisers were able to compensate with a ‘Meanwhile’ series of towpath events through the autumn. Current circumstances, however, make this option much more difficult for autumn 2020.

So organisers Mid Pennine Arts and partners want to make clear that there are no plans for any ‘Meanwhile on the Towpath’ events for this September/October. The continuing local lockdowns, and uncertainty over conditions in the near future, mean that the safety and wellbeing of participants and public must take priority. Instead, they are starting now to plan for the full return of the Festival proper in August 2021.

Nick Hunt, Creative Director of lead partner Mid Pennine Arts, said:
‘The Festival is a hugely popular, celebration event and we know how much it is valued by local businesses, local families and visitors to Burnley alike. In recent years we have seen up to 12,000 people over the weekend, and we are committed to bringing those brilliant traffic jams back to Burnley’s lovely towpath.

Next year, we will be celebrating the major new developments at our main site, Sandygate Square, with our partners UCLan showing off their expanding university provision around Victoria Mill. There will also be new developments taking shape around Canal & River Trust’s marina site at Finsley Gate.

We are delighted too that our partners Super Slow Way have confirmed their support for the next two years of the Festival. There is so much to look forward to, so we’re getting started early to do everything we can to make Burnley Canal Festival 2021 the best it can be.’


Conditions permitting, the next Burnley Canal Festival will take place on 28 and 29 August 2021.

In the meantime, we hope you stay safe, and we look forward to seeing you next year.

16 December 2019

See our film from the Weavers’ Quest in September…

17 September 2019

We had a brilliant day for the Towpath Explorers Weavers’ Quest last Saturday. Read more about it on the Meanwhile on the Towpath… page.

Towpath-Exploring-September-2019-HFilms - 3

11 September 2019

Do you know your bombazine from your drabbit, or your dimity from your scutcher? Why not join us this Saturday (14 September) for the Weavers Quest 2019 and find out!  The games are prepared, the Towpath Explorers are prepared, now we just need YOU to play the game. It’s FREE to take part, to find out more and to book visit the Meanwhile on the towpath… page.

27 August 2019

BCF18-HFilms - 194Booking has opened for the Towpath Explorers Weavers Quest 2019! Join us for a very special event and see if you can make it to the top of the leader board! The Quest is an immersive family adventure, a playful journey inspired by the history of the Weavers’ Triangle. Players will enjoy a magical experience as they follow a guided trail, meeting some interesting characters and undertaking challenges along the way.  It’s FREE to take part but you need to book, to find out more visit the Meanwhile on the towpath… page.

31 July 2019

Missing the canal festival already?  We are!  There’s no Burnley Canal Festival in 2019 but we will be back! Meanwhile, if you are looking for some family friendly and FREE OF CHARGE activities as summer drifts into autumn, come and join us!  Something is happening along the towpath… Explore the Meanwhile on the towpath… page to find out more!

30 May 2019

Today we announce that Burnley Canal Festival will not take place this year, but take a short, enforced break.  We are delighted to confirm, though, that the very popular, national award-winning event will be back.  Massive regeneration and change at all three key Festival sites has taken this out of our hands for 2019.  We have thoroughly explored all the alternatives, in an effort to not disappoint thousands of supporters, but now we look ahead, and start to plan the next Burnley Canal Festival.  With strong commitment from all our partners, and a  renewed, future canalside to explore, we are confident it will be the best BCF yet.

Meanwhile, watch out for news soon of some interim family activities to help plug the BCF gap in 2019!

Read our Press Release

20 September 2018

CRT_2018_winners_logoThe Festival has won a national Living Waterways Award! We were very proud to receive the award at a ceremony in Birmingham on behalf of all the partners, sponsors, supporters and volunteers. The Canal & River Trust commissioned a short film for all those short listed to be shown at the ceremony.  Click here to see ours.

085 Art Culture Events Winner - Burnley Canal Festival - LivingWaterwaysAwards-20.9.18

3 August 2018

Free Family Festival Returns, with New Sponsors and a New Look. The Festival organisers are pleased to announce detailed plans as Burnley Canal Festival returns for a weekend of canalside delights. Read our press release.

20 July 2018

The wonderful weather we’ve all been enjoying is unfortunately causing some problems for the canal system.  At this point we are aware that the Canal & River Trust have restricted lock use on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, and will, from the end of July, close some locks.  If these closures stay in place until the Festival it will affect the KENNET and some of the other boats planning to come to the Festival.  Festival organisers rarely wish for rain, but we’d love it if there could be lots now and then have the brilliant sunshine back at the end of August!  Much as the boats, and boaters, will be missed we will still have a fabulous Festival, with lots of other things to see and do. We’ll update this information if the situation changes.

July 2018

We are delighted to announce that the Festival is a finalist in the national Living Waterways Awards! A film crew will be at the Festival to make a short film to show at the Birmingham based awards ceremony in September. Make sure you come along to the Festival and help us show the country how wonderful this aspect of Burnley is.

June 2018

Great news! We will be joined for the weekend by the KENNET. KENNET is the only surviving Leeds & Liverpool Canal short boat open to the public and travelling along the canal carrying its ‘cargo’ of exhibitions and displays about the canal’s heritage. Short boats were once the prime movers of freight on the canal. Out of an original fleet of over one thousand short boats only about 30 still exist; many have moved away from the canal and the majority have been converted into leisure boats and homes. Make sure to go on board to see the fascinating exhibitions and to talk with the knowledgeable volunteers from the Leeds Liverpool Canal Society – Friends of Kennet.

June 2018

Here’s our first piece of print for 2018, an A5 leaflet, we hope you like it.  If you know somewhere that will display some leaflets, or the posters that will be coming soon, we’d love to hear from you.  With your help we can get the word out far and wide! Please get in touch by email.

16883 Burnley Canal Festival 18 A5 Flyer_v416883 Burnley Canal Festival 18 A5 Flyer_v4 - reverse

You can download a copy here.

November 2017

Although we didn’t win, we were delighted to be Lancashire Tourism Awards finalists for the second year running, maybe 2018 will be our year!

Lancashire Tourism Awards 2017 finalist logo SMALL TOURISM EVENT AWARD copy