More than 120 boats moor up in Little Venice this early May bank holiday, for a celebration of London's waterways.
The IWA Canalway Cavalcade takes place the same weekend each year — and 2023 is its 40th anniversary. Historic, residential and working narrowboats are among the vessels making an appearance, along with cruisers and widebeams. Many of the boats will be decked out in bunting and other colourful decorations, creating a festival vibe — particularly when combined with the other entertainment going on.
No boat? No problem! There's plenty happening on dry land for those without sea (well, canal) legs. Live music is going on all weekend, along with food and drink stalls to keep everyone well refreshed, and stalls selling crafts, canal-ware and clothing. Kids can watch a Punch & Judy show in Rembrandt Gardens (alongside the water) or join in a teddy bears' picnic on Sunday.
Back on the water, there's a pageant of decorated boats (2pm Saturday), and, our favourite, an illuminated boats parade (9pm Sunday), allowing the owners to really show off their vessels. Think Christmas, on the canal, in May:
In short, if you're looking for something free and family-friendly to do over the first May bank holiday weekend, head to Little Venice for one of London's most vibrant annual events.
The IWA Canalway Cavalcade takes place 29 April-1 May 2023 (10am-6pm Saturday, 10am-6pm and 9pm-10.30pm Sunday, and 10am-5pm Monday). It's free to visit, and open to all (on foot — mooring bookings are at full capacity for that weekend). Find it in the Pool of Little Venice, the triangle of water behind Paddington station.