Making the most of Middlewich FAB Festival

There’s something magical about the Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival that impels us to return each year. Having not booked for 2016 as we’d planned to be on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, we were relieved to sneak in on a late cancellation.

After another long journey, this time from Liverpool, we arrived late afternoon on Thursday, greeted by the lovely Heather from The Fudge Boat who met us at ‘The Big Lock’.

We’ll unashamedly admit this is one of our favourite festivals. The whole town seems to embrace the event, and we see and meet an abundance of friendly, happy people.

The line of trade boats extends from the bridge in town to the Big Lock. There was a long waiting list of traders wanting to come, such is the interest in this colourful and fun event.

Catching up with a few traders

As I wasn’t facepainting on Friday, I took Sharky McShark to meet some of the eclectic mix of floating traders …

The Fudge Boat

Fudge tasting on Heather and Tony’s Fudge Boat

The Fudge Boat

Meeting Tony

The Borders Cheese Carrying Company

Feeling cheesey with Sue from The Cheese Boat

Hitching a ride with Duncan, our boating neighbour, from the band Earl Grey and the Charwallas

Hitching a ride with Duncan, our boating neighbour, from the band ‘Earl Grey and the Charwallas’

Middlewich FAB Floating Market

Looking towards the Floating Market section where The Home Brew Boat was moored

Middlewich FAB Floating Market

Heading towards the traders moored near the play park and Big Lock pub

Croc the Vinyl Cut

Checking out Croc the Vinyl Cut

The Doggie Boat

Made it to the 3D canine collection on The Doggie Boat

The Doggie Boat

Meeting Cosmo and Daiquiri

In awe of the animal pictures on Michelle's Art on Board

In awe of the animal pictures on Michelle’s Art on Board

The Pirate Boat

Getting acquainted with Heidi from The Pirate Boat

The Pen Makers Boat

Admiring the hand turned pens on The Pen Maker’s Boat


Learning a bit about the history of Middlewich

Sugar Rush

Finding his sweet tooth with Mick and Marianne on Sugar Rush the sweetie boat

Bags by Jane

Wondering if he can find a fin-bag from Jane

Rosie and Jim

Meeting some canal favourites – Rosie and Jim

The Art Boat

Maybe Jan on the Art Boat wants to paint his portrait …

Cake on the Cut

Feeling tempted by Sam’s Cakes on the Cut

We were all thankful for dry weather most of the weekend, though temperatures are remaining stubbornly low for this time of year. In fact Gisborne, in winter, is having warmer days than we are much of the time! However we were extremely grateful the rain stayed away until Sunday afternoon this time. Out of all the events we’ve traded at so far this year, only one has remained rain-free.

Both mornings were fairly quiet, we deduced due to the plethora of planned of activities in and around the town. One of downsides of trading is we go to a whole heap of fabulous festivals but rarely get to see the activities and entertainment on offer. The difference with Middlewich is we can make the most of what’s available in the evenings.

It means long days, with less sleep than we’re used to – but it’s not as if we do it all the time so we find our fortitude and enjoy every moment.

Each afternoon was buzzing with people from near and far, and Saturday evening was as lively as previous years. I finished facepainting around 7pm, while ‘Sugar Rush’ continued serving sweeties till after 10pm with customers popping along either from the ‘Big Lock‘ pub, or on their way to another venue.

On Sunday Sharky McShark sadly left The Home Brew Boat. He’d decided he wanted more adventures, so headed off to Heidi for a spot of swashbuckling.

Funtastic Facepainting with Sharky McShark

Sharky McShark gets a Glitter Tattoo from Funtastic Facepainting prior to his next adventure on The Pirate Boat

Musical evenings

There’s no shortage of pubs in Middlewich, and each of them has some form of live music playing over the weekend.

It’s a Folk and Boat festival, so you’d imagine the sounds would be mostly folk-based. There’s still a wide variety of music, from ‘The South’ (previously The Beautiful South) as the headline act on Friday evening), to ‘The Christians’, ‘Early Grey and The Chugwallas’ (whose drummer was moored next to us and Duncan plays in open mic sessions at Boar’s Head (our favourite place), and the adorable Michelle Martin who lives on the ‘Art on the Water’ boat and as well as an amazing artist is a talented musician and singer/songwriter.

Our favourite and go-to place is The Boar’s Head, where there’s often a band in the front room, and an open mic session in the back. Those were the cause of late nights early morning stints four nights in a row!


CODA (from Ireland) singing at Middlewich Narrowboats on Saturday evening

Middlewich Narrowboats

Barry enjoying a pint at Middelwich Narrowboats

Another highlight of the weekend is the sheer volume of trade boats, with some new to the event this year. Some traders really embrace the evening entertainment, others find they’re so tired at the end of the day they snuggle up on board.

Thugs that do venture out often meet up sporadically. On Sunday evening we had a loosely planned get-together in The Boar’s Head. It’s an infrequent occurrence to have such an ability to socialise at festivals, so it was enjoyed by many.

Some of the Floating Traders celebrating a successful weekend at The Boar's Head

Some of the Floating Traders, at The Boar’s Head, celebrating a successful weekend

We’ve already sent our email to book in for 2017 – it’s definitely a must-do festival for us. That’s if we’re still here (read on).

And the next …

Our next planned event is at the Roving Canal Traders Association Floating Market in Chester on 1st, 2nd and 3rd July. Thankfully it’s not to far away, so we can chill a little and give the boat a rest!

I’m at mum’s now, having travelled here by bus and a couple of trains yesterday, until Friday when I’ll catch a train back to Barry (no idea where yet!).

We’ve got an appointment in Birmingham with our solicitor on 5th July, to complete the paperwork for Barry’s UK Spousal Sponsored Visa. His current one expires on 21st July. We’re pretty confident that we’ve gathered together sufficient evidence of the longevity and commitment of our coupledom, and our ability to sustain ourselves, but who knows what the vagaries of the Immigration Department will feel …

It’s a bit of a testing time until we have another stamp in Barry’s passport.

3 thoughts on “Making the most of Middlewich FAB Festival

  1. Pingback: Busyness on land and water – heading to Blisworth for the weekend | Adventures Aboard AreandAre

  2. Hello, I do believe I walked past your boat a few times over the weekend on my way to and from home! What a lovely post about the floating market. I have to say I think this year’s is the best we have had yet, and I really hope more traders will come to Middlewich for our monthly Makers Market events. I didn’t get much chance to shop since I was exhibiting my books in the boatyard, so I need to see you guys again and talk properly!

    • Hi there, thanks so much for stopping by our blog and making time to comment and feedback. Much appreciated.

      The monthly Makers Market sounds intriguing. I run a (closed) Facebook group for C&RT registered traders called ‘Trading Opportunities on the Cut’, so do email and let me know when and where the events are and I can post them in the group. 😉

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