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A FREE, family-friendly event over the August Bank Holiday weekend

Thank you to everyone who came on the amazingly sunny Saturday and the wet and windy Sunday. We hope you all had a good time and that we will see you again next year on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 August 2019.


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Free Family Festival Returns, with New Sponsors and a New Look! 

In August Sandygate in Burnley will come to life again with vibrant performances, and magical family activities for Burnley Canal Festival 2018.  This dynamic celebration of Burnley’s peerless canal heritage will occupy its regular slot on Bank Holiday weekend.  The free family event runs over Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 August, as usual, but Festival goers are promised a surprise or two…

The partners in BCF 2018 are now delighted to announce:

  • A new look to the Festival site, based around Sandygate Square but extending across the canal and into the reopened Victoria Mill, as well as along the towpath and on the water.
  • A new range of Festival partners, including principal sponsor University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), as they move into canalside and reopen the landmark heritage building, Victoria Mill.
  • A full festival programme including two days of music stage, a huge range of have-a-go free workshops, a Towpath Explorers family quest and much more…

This year the Festival is focussed on an expanded site at Sandygate, Burnley.  The Festival Hub will be on Sandygate Square, but activities will stretch across the canal to the UCLan Canalside Carnival around and in Victoria Mill.  Along the towpath the very popular Towpath Explorers return to take visitors on an adventure quest!

We are also delighted to announce the Festival partners who have made this year’s free event possible.  New partners UCLan are celebrating their move into the canalside by becoming the principal Festival Sponsor and also creating an extra dimension of Festival fun at Victoria Mill.  AMS Neve are sponsoring the Music Stage allowing a two day programme of music this year.  The Calico Group, Burnley Bondholders, Burnley Borough Council, Barnfield & Burnley Developments and the Stocks Massey Bequest Fund complete the picture of the generous organisations who have helped the Festival remain a free event.  Once again the Festival has received fantastic support from Super Slow Way and from Canal & River Trust.  We thank them all.

Music Stage, Fabulous Travelling Machines, Towpath Explorers, International Performers

The Festival programme brings together canal traditions with contemporary performance, music, arts workshops and street food for a weekend of fun and relaxation.  A packed weekend, and completely free programme, runs from 11am-5pm on Saturday and 11am-4pm on Sunday.  Highlights include:

  • More Music Stage sponsored by AMS Neve. A glorious array of global sounds from grass roots to global artists.  Expect an exceptional programme of incredible music including folk, blues, soul, reggae to name a few.  Over the two day programme expect to hear a world sound landscape to suit every musical palette. Including the Rajasthan Heritage Brass Band on Saturday, who will bring their unique and diverse repertoire spanning Rajasthani folk songs, Bollywood hits, Bhangra beats and pop songs (you’ve not heard ABBA until you’ve heard these guys play it!).  These vividly costumed artists will bring to Burnley the joyous music that governs life in Rajasthan.
  • Relax with family and friends in a hammock on board LIFEBOAT, the slowest ride on Earth, or take a journey of the imagination, aboard the famous travelling machines Flycycle and Submercycle!
  • Take a paddle along the Leeds & Liverpool canal, courtesy of The Desmond Family Canoe Trail, and experience the canal from a different perspective.
  • Visit Victoria Mill, where UCLan will invite you to try carnival themed activities in their new home.
  • There’s fabulous street food, free arts and crafts workshops, children’s fairground rides, a Victorian mill engine to visit and so much more.
  • And for those who love adventure, the Towpath Explorers have devised an exciting game trail for all the family. Can you prove your worth as a weaver in the Weavers’ Triangle!

Visit the What’s On page for more details.

“What a great time our family had, with new and unique experiences, not your run-of-the-mill local festival…”  Festival attender, 2017

Launched in 2012, the Canal Festival has grown each year, steered by volunteers and supported by partners including Burnley Council and Canal & River Trust.  The Festival is now a part of the Super Slow Way arts programme and is managed by Mid Pennine Arts, the charity based in Burnley canalside, and events company Deco Publique, creators of brilliant events like Blackburn’s National Festival of Making, with the volunteers of the Festival Committee representing local communities.

“The best family event I have ever been to! We had the best day ever, lots of laughs, great chat, mega fun! We will be back next year! “

Look out for regular updates on this website and our Facebook page