Come and Mess About on the Water with Us!
Our 10th Anniversary festival is coming up this month, and we'll be making a big splash with load of activities planned on the water! This year, there's so much fun to be had...read on for a full round-up!
Enjoy one of our many boat trips!
Boat trips are always popular over festival weekend, especially those awesome little yellow water taxis ferrying visitors from Granary Wharf to Leeds Dock. There’s nothing better than viewing our glorious city from the water and children just love the excitement of a boat trip! You can catch the water taxis (provided by our friends at Allied London) from Granary Wharf and Leeds Dock over the festival weekend from 9am – 7pm both days and trips are FREE.
This year, we're able to run even more boat trips all weekend long, from both Armley Industrial Museum and Thwaite Mills thanks to the lovely people at Canal Connections and Safe Anchor Trust. There will be two boats at each museum taking visitors out on the water to explore the canal and river and enjoy the calm of the waterway. Our boats come with a story-teller or two at Armley as well, so if you really don’t want to join the queues at the water taxi stops, you can wander along to either museum (or both!), explore these wonderful heritage sites and take a trip out on the water with your family and friends. These trips are a fantastic way to see the wonderful natural environment on the door step of the city centre. Boat trips run from 11am till 4pm each day and are FREE.
Have a go at canoeing and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding
If you love the idea of getting on the water and feel a little more daring, then you need to make your way to Granary Wharf. White Rose Canoe Club will be on the water all weekend long with their kayaks and stand-up paddle boards. It’s a wonderful sight to see all the little boats and boards on the water and of course, it’s loads of fun and a fantastic adventure for children and adults. There’s no need to book and the activities on the water are free to get involved in. We only had one poor person fall in the water last year, it was me and it was a very funny sight! The team will be running taster sessions from 11am – 4pm both days and it's FREE!
There’s a theme growing here, not only because all these activities are on the water, but also because they are free of charge. Our aim is to provide activities at the waterfront festival that are cost free so that they can be enjoyed by all, we know how expensive a day out with the children can be at the best of times!
Can you build a Junk Boat?
Junk Boat Building at the festival is now in its third year and it really is a fantastic way to spend the weekend if you have an active imagination and a real sense of adventure! Teams gather at Castleton Mill along the Leeds &Liverpool Canal in Armley and work together on the Saturday to build some weird and wonderful crafts. They then sail down the canal in their creations on Sunday. Crowds of festival visitors gather along the canal and cheer the boats along as they race their way to the finish line at Granary Wharf…but will they sink or swim?!
Getting involved is easy, just drop us a line on the website contact form and we’ll be straight back in touch. The Junk Boat Building is managed by our friends at Open Source Arts, that amazing river clean-up crew and all the items used for the boats are supplied by the wonderful people at Leeds Recycling Centres...they build a mean boat too! Junk boat building takes place on Saturday 24th June from 10am – 4pm with the crafts launched and sailed down the canal at 1.30pm the next day.
See a Traditional Horse Boat in Action at Oddy Locks
Oddy Locks is a beautiful oasis along the Leeds &Liverpool Canal, a picturesque pit stop to enjoy whilst exploring Leeds waterfront. Enjoy ice cream, coffee and cake at the wonderful Grade II Listed tea room ‘The Stables’ and meet Bilbo the Shire Horse and watch him pull his boat along the canal tow path. Oddy Locks is an area of the canal adopted by the local community, beautifully looked after and a great place to enjoy traditional music, art and learn about the heritage of the canal.
The Legendary Dragon Boat Races at Leeds Dock
An absolute favourite and highlight of the Leeds Waterfront Festival, the dragon boat races are back again for colourful battles of lively teams, fancy-dressed to impress on Saturday 24th. The fun starts at 10:30 as the teams take their first practice out on the water before the races begin!
Radio Aire are the hosts this year, so expect lots of music and banter as the teams battle it out when they race up and down the dock. The event is a great highlight of the festival so don’t miss it! You’ll have the British Street Food Awards, Caribbean vibes at Dock 29, kids activities and a mosey around The Royal Armouries to keep you busy too!
The Dragon Boat races take place on Saturday 24th June and are this year raising money for Simon on The Streets. There’s still time to enter the race, for more information check out Leeds Dock website here.
World Record Attempt – Largest Ever Paper Boat Race!
We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our 10th Anniversary than encouraging our visitors to come along and help us to make a brand new world record right here in Leeds! On Sunday at 3.30pm crowds will gather at Granary Wharf to view our spectacular paper boat race! We plan to break the current world record of 250 boats on the water and we need your help!
Over the weekend we will be holding paper boat making workshops and urge you to pop along and make your very own boat to enter into the race. Our winners will receive trophies and prizes and everyone will have worked together to achieve this brand new world record. Join us Armley Industrial Museum from 11am – 3pm on Saturday 24th June to make your boat or on Sunday at The Tetley from 11am – 2pm. Boats will be numbered and entered into the race by our team. If you fancy making a boat at home, check out our boat making instructions here and bring it along to the race site at 2.30pm on Sunday 25th June. This event is sponsored by Leeds Civic Trust.
Musical Barge Trips
Love music and want to experience intimate gigs with Leeds talent on board a canal boat? Well now you can! We’ve teamed up with CITU to offer this unique experience all festival weekend long. Our musical barge trips will set sail from Knights Bridge close to Leeds Dock and will take our artists and their audiences down the Aire and Calder river to Knostrop Lock. Take in the environment, enjoy the slow pace of life along the water and be entertained by our acoustic artists. What a lovely way to spend an hour or so at the weekend!
These trips are FREE and will be ticket-only, booking instructions will be released over the next few days. Keep an eye on our social for all the details!
Boats to Explore
Proud boat owners love to visit our festival and open up their craft for visitors to explore. We are delighted to welcome a ‘Humber Keel’ called ‘comrade’ to Thwaite Mills this year. Come and take a look it really is a fantastic sight with its sails up! We will also have a 125 ft heritage freight boat called Fusedale joining us too. It will be moored below Leeds Lock for you to jump on board and explore!
Check out further blogs and our events section for detailed information about all the wonderful water activities planned!