If rioting against capitalism in central London isn’t really your bag this May bank holiday, head for Paddington Basin instead to join the massive fleet of canalboats assembled there to celebrate the 200 years of canals into Paddington

This event is huge every year but Canalway Cavalcade 2001, to be held in Paddington Basin from 5-7 May, promises to cap them all as London throws open its locks to celebrate 200 years of canals to Paddington.

Since the Inland Waterways Association (IWA) organised the first event in 1983, the Canalway Cavalcade has grown into a major event on the canalboat calendar but this year’s event is particularly special because it marks the 200th anniversary of canals into Paddington.

The IWA is expecting upwards of 150 boats to attend the event and this spectacular assembly of colour and history in the heart of London has, on good days, attracted 12,000 visitors because there’s masses going over the three days. There are boathandling competitions, canoe demonstrations, picnics, jugglers, magic and puppet shows, brass bands, jazz bands, Morris dancing and its inevitable, abundant companion – real ale.

The high point promises to be the procession of illuminated boats through the pool on Sunday night at 9.30pm. MAFF and the NFU have both given the event the nod, so your enjoyment of our waterway heritage will be guilt-free.The event runs across the whole bank holiday weekend, from Saturday 5 May to Monday 7 May, and if the weather gives us a break, Canalway Cavalcade 2001 will be a fitting celebration for the 200th birthday of Paddington’s canals.

If you’re thinking of chugging along or just want to know more about the event, click here for a list of contact names and addresses at the local IWA branch.