The colourful spectacle of the Easter Boat Gathering returns to the National Waterways Museum in Ellesmere Port from Friday, March 30 to Monday, April 2.
While the 80 to 100 narrow boats and barges will undoubtedly be the main attraction, organisers say there will be much more to enjoy from live music to a chance to dive into the waterways archives.
For the first time the Canal and River Trust will be able to offer moorings in the upper basin of Thomas Telford’s Victorian port as the boats previously stored there were lifted out in a groundbreaking operation last October.
With the historic boats now under conservation there will be opportunities for visitors to see the museum’s new boat store where the vessels raised from the water are being stored and worked on.
“So the museum will be even busier than usual with boats which all have their own story to tell,” said a spokesperson.
The visits will take place on Saturday and Sunday at noon, 1pm and 2pm.
Moored at Telford Quay, the steam cruiser Daniel Adamson, which has strong links with Ellesmere Port, will be welcoming passengers on board for a short cruise in vintage style from Friday through to Easter Monday at 11am and 2pm.
The mini cruises aboard the restored vessel, which predates the Titanic, will give people an insight into the activity and shipping on the Manchester Ship Canal, opened in 1894 as a 36 mile maritime highway allowing ocean going ships to navigate into the heart of Manchester.
The museum’s own narrowboat Centaur will be taking trips along the Shropshire Union Canal and visitors will also be able to go through the historic locks and experience at close hand how the system works.
Costumed interpreters will bring the Porters Row cottages and the slipway at the museum to life.
With a packed programme of music, a musical stage show for the youngsters and their families, exhibitions, trails and activities for the children the South Pier Road attraction is expecting to be buzzing throughout the weekend, the traditional start to the boating season.