Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show 2016

‘Believe me … there’s nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.’ So said the Water Rat in Kenneth Grahame’s classic story, The Wind in the Willows. And anyone who enjoys being on or beside the water will surely agree with this sentiment, but whether you are a boaty person or not, there is much fun to be had at the annual Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show, which this year takes place from Friday 3 to Sunday 5 June.

In the stunning setting of Beale Park, the quirky and very British Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show makes for a fabulous day out. The show’s ‘green area’ nestles comfortably between the lake and the river Thames, and is a place of relative calm at the busy event, which in 2015 attracted close on 5,000 visitors over the long weekend.

Year on year, the organisers develop and rejuvenate the show with fresh ideas, and 2016 is no exception as there will be plenty for families to explore and interact with, including for the first time free boat rides right across the lake, arriving at the new jetty into the green area.

See if for Real Productions are managing this year’s show and continue the tradition of making it one of the brightest and best boat shows in the UK – the only place to try out and buy the best boats made by the best craftsmen in the country. Here you can see the widest range of boats in the UK, from steam and electric to fibre glass and sea boats, and everything else in between. In fact it is anticipated that more boats than ever before will be taking to the water, with the message being: ‘If it travels on water, it’s in.’

In 2016 the show’s core theme is linked to the Wooden Boatbuilders’ Trade Association, so provides the opportunity to meet the best wooden boatbuilders in the country, understand their craft and try out their boats. With this in mind, the annual Amateur Boat Building Awards (ABBA) competition 2016 is for wooden boats; any kind of boat is welcome to enter as long as it’s built in wood, plywood or both. To enter, send pictures and a brief description of your boat, together with your contact details, no later than 1 May, by email to or post to Amateur Boat Building Awards, Water Craft, Bridge Shop, Gweek, Cornwall TR12 6UD. For further details about the competition email ABBA or call them on 01326 221424.

Just some of the main attractions this year will be Kipperman Mike Smylie whose cookery demos attract many people as he turns his personally smoked ‘on site’ herrings into delicious dishes.

Simon Cooper, who demonstrates the production of flax rope, will also be cooking; last year his ‘Cooking in a Canoe’ demonstration drew in tremendous crowds, and 2016 will see him showing how to ‘Feed your crew from a can’.

Another first for Beale Park Boat Show is bush craft and survival company Woodland Ways who over the course of the weekend will stage 1–2 hour demonstrations on a whole host of outdoor bush craft skills. These include interactive demonstrations, fire lighting using a variety of different materials, building shelters and the art of spoon carving.

The family area will integrate with the show’s core boat values and will be educational and fun: discover how to tie knots, make a sail, make a model boat, and learn about navigation and maritime history. As the organisers say, ‘If just one child goes away energised to learn more about boats, to enjoy boats, then we have achieved our goal.’

The people at Barnacle Bill Magazine (aimed at boat builders, owners and dreamers who are interested in boat building, adventure boating and sailing) will be hosting a ‘show within a show’. Very excitingly, they will be joined by Justin Coleman, the stand-up comedian who is looking for a partner to join him in a trans-Atlantic row in 2017. On top of this they will feature the UK’s leading builder of open sailing canoes, Solway Dory, and launch a home built dinghy, easy to build and affordable. They will also represent Small Craft Advisor Magazine from Maine, USA, and show the SCAMP, a revolutionary 12ft home built boat that is making waves across the world with its seaworthy and clever design.

As well as an exhibition of modern and antique sailing canoes, BBM will host the Shackleton Legacy, marking the 100th anniversary since Ernest Shackleton and five crew men embarked on their epic journey on the James Caird to seek help following the loss of their ship, the Endurance. Antarctic explorer Seb Coulthard will be launching an accurate replica of the James Caird, and you can see the clothes and equipment that Shackleton used a century ago.

Come along to the show for the day or make a weekend of it. As always, the long weekend provides the perfect opportunity to moor up your own boat (from just £32 for four nights) or camp in the beautiful meadow next to the showground – great views and great value, again from just £32 for up to four nights. Or why not opt for a stunning glamping pod? These proved a big hit last year (and a sell-out, so book early).

And if all the excitement and activity gets too much, you can nip back to your boat or tent, or simply laze by the lake in the sun …

Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show, Beale Park, Lower Basildon, Berkshire RG8 9NW

Opening hours Friday and Saturday 10am–6pm, Sunday 10am– 5pm

Ticket prices for entry to the show include a £5 voucher for entry to the Beale Park Wild Life Park & Gardens.

Further details at