Stratford River Festival Information

We welcome you to the Stratford River Festival 2024 held on July 5th, 6th and 7th   

Click here to download this page as a pdf

This year marks the 15th Anniversary of our first Stratford River Festival of the ‘Modern Sequence’ in 2009, the 60th year since the Canal was restored and the 50th since the Avon was reopened to Stratford. 

After a 5 year break, a revived team of LSD Promotions, the Avon Navigation Trust, Local Authorities, The Inland Waterways Association, Stratford upon Avon Canal society and other bodies are all working hard to ensure that boaters, visitors, performers, traders, indeed everyone, has a great time!

Please read the important notes on rafting-up procedures, mooring and turning on the river.  The team has your best interests, safety, enjoyment, and well-being always as its objective. 

The Harbourmaster’s staff will welcome you from Wednesday onwards and get boats into final positions by Thursday afternoon, ready for the start of the Festival on Friday.  If you have been asked to arrive at a specific time please adhere to this as closely as possible.

On Friday evening at 7:30pm all Boaters are most cordially invited to the Barbeque Party at Stratford Marina.  This is a great way to start the weekend with Live Music, Barbeque Food, Drinks and a warm welcome from owners John and Heather Dews.  

On Saturday evening we hope that as many boats as possible will be illuminated at their moorings to add to the attraction of the river scene and the fireworks display.   

 For those of you with a little spare time and energy, our team members will be arranging a litter pick early on the Sunday morning to ensure that the site is neat and tidy for the Sunday events. Equipment will be provided and we hope that as before a large group of boaters will join us to help before the public arrives.

Bacon rolls and drinks will be available for the pickers, courtesy of LSD Promotions.

It is unlikely but we may possibly ask for further help with a final litter pick on Sunday evening.

Water is available on-site with a little difficulty but we strongly advise that you arrive with full tanks.  Please note that Elsan tip-out and tank pump out is available at both Stratford and Shakespeare Marinas, however we suggest that you arrive with empty toilets if possible.  Regrettably we are forced by Stratford District Council to take firm action regarding any boater found using the land-based site toilets for tip-out.  Offenders will be asked to leave the site and we reserve the right to reconsider their Avon Licence in future.

The event staff will be clearly identifiable and there will be an event office on site, so please don’t hesitate to ask for help or advice from any of the team. 

We hope you have an enjoyable weekend and look forward to welcoming you back in 2025.                   

Thank you for supporting the Stratford River Festival and we hope that you enjoy your stay with us. Very best wishes from:

Alex Metcalfe LSD Operations & Logistics Manager 07852 568839     01384 877336             

Jon Holliday  LSD Business Development Manager  07498 735753

Roger Clay ANT Harbourmaster 07919 492957

Ian Fletcher   IWA Harbourmaster  07977 483226


Boaters Terms & Conditions

 Bookings will be acknowledged and licences sent by e-mail from

Boater’s information regarding directions, moorings and services details and Festival opening and closing times, will be forwarded by email and available here.

Concessionary Avon Licences will only be issued by Avon Navigation Trust.  The five festival and licence options listed below are exclusive to the Stratford River Festival and are not transferable.  All options include booking, mooring and festival fees. 

Option 1                                                                                                                     Fee

Vessels with a valid Avon Licence                                                                               £36.00

Option 2

Vessels from the Canal or via a slipway                                                                    £48.00

Access to the Stratford reach only, no use of river locks.

For Festival period July 4th to July 8th.                                      

Option 3

Vessels from the Severn or Canal, 7-day Avon Licence                                         £66.00

This licence can start no sooner than July 2nd (and run to July 8th)

and start no later than July 4th (and run to July 10th)

Option 4

Vessels attending Stratford and Evesham Festivals                        

Vessels from the Severn or Canal, 14-day Avon Licence                                        £73.50

This licence can start no sooner than July 2nd (and run to July 15th)

and start no later than July 4th (and run to July 17th)

Option 5

Vessels attending Stratford, Evesham and Pershore Festivals                   

Vessels from the Severn or Canal, 30-day Avon Licence                                       £91.00

This licence can start no sooner than June 30th (and run to July 29th)

and start no later than July 4th (and run to Aug 3rd)  

  • Avon Licence Concessions

The Avon Navigation Trust, in support of this event, agrees to the above licence concessions to Stratford River Festival entrants for the dates specified in the terms and conditions.  The licences will be issued, and festival fees collected for the organisers, LSD Promotions Ltd, by event partners, Avon Navigation Trust ONLY.  Since moorings for the festival will be limited all boats attending must complete the entry form in advance to obtain festival moorings and river licences as required from the organisers before the closing date.


The following conditions apply to all vessels:

  • LSD Promotions Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any injury or damage to persons, property or vessels, however caused. No trading from boats unless authorised by LSD Promotions Ltd. 
  • ENGINES AND GENERATORS MAY ONLY BE RUN 08:00-10:00hrs and 17:00-19:00hrs
  • Accessibility: The organisers will endeavour to meet the needs of any boater with a registered Disability Blue Badge.
  • Mooring: Narrowboats will be moored end-on and alongside. Alongside limits: 3 abreast for narrowboats, otherwise 2 abreast.  Moorings will be at the ANT Harbourmaster’s discretion, whose decision will be final. Festival mooring is not permitted in the Canal Basin or on the ‘Town’ bank unless specifically allocated.
  • Third Party Insurance, Licence and Registration

All vessels must have a current appropriate Avon Licence displayed, relevant Registration and Insurance at the time of the festival.

  • Mooring Restrictions.
    • No refuelling of petrol or diesel engines on Festival Moorings.
    • Toilets must not be discharged into the waterway or into on-site portable toilets.
    • No loud music after 23.00 hrs.
    • By Order of the Stratford District Council, solid fuel barbeques are not permitted.
  • Water Safety: All minors and dependants are the responsibility of carers at all times.
  • Pets: Pets must be kept on a lead at all times. They will not have access to any public food preparation or vending areas.  Owners are responsible for clearing all mess.
  • Refuse: Recycling is encouraged. Please take your rubbish to the refuse point by the main site entrance.
  • The Event Manager reserves the right to request the removal of any vessel from the Festival Moorings. 

Bookings are for named boats only, and are not transferable or refundable. 

Main Partners: LSD Promotions Ltd, Avon Navigation Trust, The Inland Waterways Association, Stratford upon Avon Canal Society, Canal & River Trust




At times of even moderate flow turning a vessel in the Warwickshire Avon can be tricky.  It should be borne in mind that the current in the middle of the channel will be stronger than that at the edges. 

In particular, turning in the relatively narrow section of the river below the ferry at Stratford can be difficult unless this point is appreciated. 

Vessels coming downstream and wishing to turn upstream are therefore strongly recommended to adopt the following procedure: 

Starting from near the centre of the river, turn so as to place the bows near the northern or town-side bank 

The stronger current midstream will then swing the stern downstream

Use forward and reverse gears as normal to complete the turn

For vessels making the opposite manoeuvre, ie coming upstream to turn downstream, the reverse positioning should apply, that is to say start the turn near the recreation ground bank and allow the bows to be carried round by the mid-stream current. 

Always turn well clear of other vessels and downstream of potential hazards.  

Make due allowance for current especially if the river is above normal level. 

See  River Watch page for on-line EA level and Riverwatch camera info.   


See separate note Secure Mooring.

Vessels should come equipped with two stern lines. 

If lying alongside always face upstream.  One stern line should be led well forward from the stern and used as a spring.  The other line should be led well aft from the stern to act as a warp.  

If the vessel is moored in a raft, normally facing upstream at 45 degrees, then two stern lines are required as follows: – 

One line led upstream square to the line of the hull and hence at 45 degrees to the bank. 

One line led downstream in line with the hull and hence also at 45 degrees to the bank. 

These two lines together will keep the stern securely in position.  The lines should be attached by a rolling hitch to a bankside footrope where one is provided, or to securely driven mooring pins angled back against the pull.      


It is easy to moor your boat so that it will not move around or be disturbed by passing craft.

Use three lines, two at the stern and one at the bow

Take one stern line well aft (a warp) and the other well forward (a spring). Set these two lines up good and tight and they will effectively prevent movement.

The bow may be held in by one line at any angle to the bank.

It is best to take the loop end of the lines to the bank and leave the working end to be adjusted on board. You don’t have to go ashore to adjust a line and the ropes will stay cleaner. Setting up ropes tightly means they last longer since they will not chafe and wear.

Recommended sequence is to temporarily hold the boat in place with the roof line. Then set up the spring, then the warp, and finally the bow line. The roof line, which should never be used for a permanent mooring can then be stowed.




The boats are moored in a 45 degree ‘herring-bone’ fashion, pointing upstream – with key boats in the rafts either having their bows tied back to the bank or anchors from the bow of the boat. Please carry an anchor for this event.

Although the creation of these narrow-boat rafts is more complex than conventional moorings, they offer boaters a number of advantages.  By mooring end-on every crew has direct access to the bank.  Due to the angle of the raft this access is to one side of the tiller – and is particularly easy for boats with ‘trad’ or ‘semi-trad’ sterns. 

There are other benefits:-

‘Herring-boning’ gives those in the raft the most light onto the front decks and into their cabins. 

It provides the best up-stream or down-stream views to see and enjoy all the river activity that takes place here at Festival time. It is more sociable in other ways; all the engines are grouped together – so battery charging or other maintenance is less of an anti-social activity.

Rafting allows us to get more boats onto a finite length of mooring, but it also makes it quicker and easier for you to access the festival for food, drink, entertainment, and meeting fellow-boaters.  Finally, for the public as well as us, it creates the most photogenic of moorings to be found at any boat-gathering in the country.


The cost of all these benefits is a more complex mooring process. Once the anchor blocks and mooring buoys are in place the rafts are built up in a strict sequence:-  First, two datum boats are moored to the buoy; these are usually the longest boats in the raft, and in-turn are usually manned by crews who have visited before and (literally) ‘know the ropes’.  Their captains are the ‘raft-masters’. 

Boats are then progressively added to these datum boats (both upstream and downstream) tapering down in reducing lengths to give everyone the greatest view possible of the river and its varied activities.  If you are a first time visitor or returning to Stratford please look at the instructions below to see how we achieve this as efficiently and safely as possible. From this arrangement you will see that we tend to moor 60-footers before 50-footers and these before 40-footers etc. etc. But those of you with smaller boats should not worry; you have a booking, so you have a mooring – and you will have a view.

Boats A&B (at say 60’+) are the ‘datum boats’. Once they are safely moored, boat C (say at 55’) is called in. It follows the course as in C1, 2, 3 above – ‘coming about’ downstream of the AB raft, and coming alongside the bank near the stern of boat B.  Both bow and stern ropes are taken.  The C bow rope is then walked up the port gunwale of boat B, and at the same time the C stern rope is held and walked towards B. Although the engine remains on (for safety reasons) all movement now should be by hand. The bow of C should always remain ‘sheltered’ from the stream by the bows of A and B.  It is then tied off or made fast to boat B and to the bank before other boats are called.

The process is repeated for boats D, E, F etc. and the raft is constructed. In all cases final positioning should be by roping, and the bows should not project into the stream.  Meanwhile the smallest boats (Y&Z above) can be ‘sub-assembled’ – by tying together and temporarily mooring to the bank sufficiently downstream for the rest of the raft to be constructed. 

At any time during this process, upstream boats – such as P (at say 50’) and Q (at say 40’) – can be added to the raft.  Unless the river flow is minimal, these boats should turn well upstream of the raft and come alongside facing upstream, again allowing ropes to be taken.  Using a combination of the current and the ropes these boats are then drifted into position and made fast.  If the stream is strong, or the captain has any concerns over his ability to turn in time, the vessel should proceed past the raft, turn to face upstream, and under control, against the current, proceed upstream of the raft and come alongside.  The boat can then be roped into position – as above.                                                                                                 




Please note:   The mooring team is happy to pilot boats into position if you require this.       

Finally: Sometime in the course of the Festival, the mooring team will contact you to go through the ‘break-out’ procedure. In the meantime please enjoy your visit.

 Stratford River Festival, Harbourmaster Team