Olympic funding makes Angel Canal Festival best ever

Boat trips, pottery workshops and even vegetables made to look like babies were among the attractions at this year’s Angel Canal Festival.

The annual event along the Regent’s Canal in Islington – made extra special this year by additional Olympic funding – attracted some 7,000 people on Sunday.

The festival in and around City Road Basin, now in its 26th year, benefited from a share of funding Islington Council received from the Greater London Authority (GLA) to mark the Games, which meant two extra bands and a host of activities could be added to the line-up.

Live music, street theatre, hawking, a fun fair, an outdoor gallery as well as water competitions entertained the crowds, with a bizarre attraction of vegetables made to look like babies and children proving to be one of the biggest hits of the day.

Organiser Beryl Windsor said: “They were called ‘the vegetable nannies’ and had old-fashioned prams filled with bark chippings and nesting in there were vegetables in nappies. Children were given the chance to feed them with a bottle of fertilizer.

“They loved it and all their parents liked it too because it was so strange.”

More than 80 children tried their hand at pottery and others helped to paint a small boat which was later launched.

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There were also 90 stalls lining the towpath all the way down to Packington Park and surrounding streets selling everything from crafts, books and clothes to food and drinks.

The festival was started by the late Crystal Hale in 1987 after she successfully took on British Waterways to save the City Road Basin from being filled in and developed. It is still organised by a team of some 80 volunteers led by Ms Windsor and friend Sasha Keir.

Reflecting on the success of this year’s festival, Ms Windsor, 73, said: “We certainly enjoyed the extra entertainment and lots of people said they had a lovely day but it wouldn’t be possible without the volunteers.”

For the next event, which is supported each year with �20,000 from local sponsors, Ms Windsor is appealing for more volunteers from Islington to come forward and get involved.