Edinburgh Canal Festival Raft Race

Submitted by edg on Thu, 1 Jun '23 7.38am
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Boaters on strange vessels compete in a raft race on the Union Canal with spectators crowded on the Leamington Lift Bridge behind them
Time & place

One of the highlights of the annual Edinburgh Canal Festival, held each summer on the Union Canal, is the raft race, where crews compete in small, DIY, human-powered vessels in various states of marine readiness.

Raft teams can win one of several prizes:

  • First Place
  • Most Entertaining
  • Most Creative

There are a few rules on the day, such as the rafts must not be more than 6 feet or 1.8m wide, human powered, cannot include marine parts (canoes, paddles,etc.) and must be made of materials that wont contaminate the canal.

There is no limit to the number of people on a raft team, but all must pass the finish line, and they must be able to carry their raft overland from finish to start line, if they win their heat.

The event is free to watch, and a small crowd turns up to view the antics from the side of the canal and hanging over the heritage Leamington Lift Bridge and footbridge near Lochrin Basin.