Lockdown for this year's Burnley Canal Festival but organisers promise ambitious return

Last year's Burnley Canal Festival
Last year's Burnley Canal Festival
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The popular annual Burnley Canal Festival will not take place this year.

Originally scheduled for Saturday August 24th and 25th at Sandygate Square the Festival is taking an enforced break due to the major regeneration works now starting there, while other key canalside sites are also temporarily unavailable.

The organisers, however, are making the most of this pause in proceedings to plan for an ambitious return.

Burnley Canal Festival has grown year on year, attracting an estimated 12,000 visitors in each of the last two years. In 2018 the event won a national Living Waterways Award. Co-producers Mid Pennine Arts and Super Slow Way expect the Festival to continue to grow in 2020 and beyond.

Principal sponsor the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), whose expansion into canalside is helping transform the area, have also confirmed their commitment to a long-term partnership. UCLan’s stunningly refurbished Victoria Mill will be a key part of the future festival site plan.

Nick Hunt, Creative Director of Mid Pennine Arts, said: “We want to thank all the thousands of people who have been regular supporters over the last few years. We know they have come to expect a really special event, and we were reluctant to disappoint them.

"We have explored all the alternatives, but with so much construction work and so much change going on, we concluded that the priority is to plan for the future. And what an exciting future, as the renewal of Burnley’s canalside starts to take shape.

"We are delighted to be working together on that future vision with Super Slow way and UCLan and all our many festival partners. And we can’t wait to bring back the biggest and best yet Burnley Canal Festival.”

Michael Ahern, UCLan’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “UCLan is committed to the growth of higher education and the development of Burnley as a university town. The 2018 festival coincided with Victoria Mill reopening to students. We are delighted to continue our sponsorship and look forward to working with partners on fantastic events when the Burnley Canal Festival returns in 2020.”

Work starts now towards 2020. Meanwhile, however, BCF organisers are devising some very special but smaller scale, free, family activity for summer 2019 that they hope regular Festival followers will enjoy.

News of these activities will follow in the next few weeks, but BCF regulars may be pleased to learn that it will almost certainly involve some Towpath Exploring.