Going with the flow – Oxford’s popular waterways festival is back in September

Roses and Castles canal folk art 1. Pic.Jeff Slade. Copyright Oxford Canal Festival.

Oxford Canal Festival is on course for 2022.  The festival, which celebrates the city’s waterways, its traditions and colourful history, will take place on Saturday September 17 with a new director and an exciting line-up.

Matt Turner, who takes over the helm from musician and Jericho Choir leader Steph Pirrie, said today: “The Oxford Canal is an important part of Oxford’s heritage and a vital green lung running through the city. Everyone who visits or lives on or near the canal is invited.”

Matt, who runs Decadent Times CIC, a community interest events company, and who lives on Kingston Road, close to the Canal, plans to bring a strong musical programme to the festival, and encourage local talent. “What is surprising to some is the amount of creativity and talent that exists on the canal – writers, artists, musicians, designers all live there. We aim to share this talent and bring it to a wider audience.”

Visitors will be able to enjoy great music from across the city on the main stage and in the community bar, the spoken word tent that includes University Challenge, where four groups (including children) will take on the experts with tricky and comedic questions, arts and crafts tent, film tent and guided walks to learn about the canal and its history, delicious food from across the world, and the return of old favourites from the popular dog show to canal themed fun and games including the Canal Olympics.

The last Oxford Canal Festival was held in September 2018, before Covid put paid to plans for 2020. After record-breaking temperatures this summer, contributions from environmental and community groups will be an important part of this year’s event. Proceeds from the festival will go towards the Kilsby Theatre Boat Project, which aims to restore and transform a historic narrowboat, into a unique community theatre space for everyone to enjoy.