It’s back! Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival is set to make a welcome return this summer and organisers are planning to make it the ‘biggest and best’ yet.

As with so many events up and down the country, the much-loved family festival was forced to cancel over the past two years but now its full steam ahead with plans for a major come-back this June.

Already organisers, Middlewich Town Council, have announced a headline act, The Whole of the Moon band The Waterboys who are hugely popular on the folk/rock scene up and down the country.

A working group, including councillors, residents, and staff, is planning a jam-packed programme of family attractions and musical entertainment from June 16-19 to draw crowds and boost the town economy. More information will be shared in coming weeks.

Already there has been a joyous reaction to news of the festival’s return on social media.

Facebook was set alight with the announcement with followers leaving comments such as ‘amazing!’ and ‘I’m going to cancel my holiday to be in town for the festival’ – all were positive and delighted to see Middlewich back on the map for celebrating its musical roots.

The event will once again showcase Middlewich’s rich canal history with a colourful flotilla of narrowboats boats displaying their quirky names and paintwork while selling their crafts as part of a floating market.

They will be seen at three locations – on the Trent & Mersey Canal below Big Lock or above Kings Lock, and on the Shropshire Union Canal above Wardle.

The Main Stage will return to its traditional location on Market Field and there will be a toe-tapping trail of musical entertainment to follow around fringe festival pubs.

Cllr Jonathan Parry, who chairs the working group, said: “In this special 30th anniversary year, and after an enforced break due to the pandemic, we hope to make this festival one to remember. We have made some changes, spreading the attractions across town, to showcase Middlewich and all it has to offer.

“Already there has been a fantastic response from boaters who would like to attend and local pubs keen to get involved. The programme is growing by the day. More will be announced soon.”

Key attractions include:

Market Field: Main stage with The Waterboys on Friday and further acts throughout the weekend

Victoria Hall, Civic Way : A dedicated folk stage with music, food, and drink

Fountain Fields: Community stage with family entertainment including performances by local dance groups and schools

Civic Way carpark: Games, stalls, souvenirs, and foodie choices galore

Wheelock Street: A vibrant market destination lined with crafts and delicious artisan foods

Floating Market from Town Bridge to The Big Lock with narrowboats selling everything from cakes and crafts to ironwork and paintings

Cllr Parry added: “There was a good crowd of visitors in 2019 but we feel we can do more to shout-out about Middlewich and celebrate its musical roots and warm-hearted welcome.  

“We were keen to encourage more local involvement and the response has been overwhelming. We have town residents on the working group and many locals offering to be festival volunteers.

“We want to take the festival back to its folk roots but also move with the times and are determined to make this year the biggest and best yet.”

From the seeds of an event, staged for the first time by a local committee in 1992, Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival has blossomed into a Cheshire social scene favourite recognised by the Guardian Online as one of the top three folk festivals in England.

The working group is working flat out to offer something for everyone and attract visitors from across Cheshire and beyond.

As headliners, The Waterboys are set to bring many fans.  Led by brilliant Scottish guitarist/vocalist Mike Scott, the band features an established line-up of Memphis keyboard great ‘Brother’ Paul Brown, ace British drummer Ralph Salmins and funky Irish bassman Aongus Ralston.  

The Folk Stage will include appearances by Oysterband, Merry Hell, Trad Arr and The John Martyn Project.

For more information on the festival programme, its ticketed events and host of free attractions see social media or head to the website at www.middlewichfabfestival.co.uk