A cavalcade of colourful canal craft is expected to cruise through Chester  to converge on the National Waterways Museum for its popular Easter Gathering and Sea Shanty Festival taking place between Friday, April 18 and Sunday, April 20.

The rally at the Ellesmere Port museum, described as ‘a significant event in the boating calendar’, marks the start of the cruising season with many boats setting off to other parts of the canal network following the festival.

The museum says heritage and great stories will come alive throughout the weekend with the gathering of colourful canal boats, music, traditional canal craft by the Waterway Craft Group, children’s activities by Shanty UK and the Waterway Explorers, stalls and much more.

For the fourth year, sea shanty performers from across the country will be performing on boats and in the museum’s restored buildings throughout the festival as well as in concert on the Friday and Saturday nights.

John Inch, general manager at the museum, said: “The Easter Boat Gathering is a popular event with both canal enthusiasts and visitors.

“As well as the usual highlights, visitors will get the chance to see two new exhibitions.”

Potteries based artist Rob Pointon will be exhibiting his collection and also his Rob's Year of the Boat paintings from his tour of the country’s canals.

The Ellesmere Port Arts Festival Then and Now exhibition, comparing photographs of how the Port was in its heyday with today’s photographs, will also be open.

Evening talks arranged by the Boat Museum Society will also take place on the Friday and Saturday nights with a fundraising music night with Chester Folk Festival stalwarts Full House on Saturday April 19 in the Tom Rolt Conference Centre. 

Admission to the event is £6.50 adults, £5.50 concessions, £4.50 children which includes access to the rest of the museum.

There are additional charges for those wishing to attend the evening concerts.

For more information or to book a boat into the festival contact the museum on 0151 355 5017 or visit the website www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.