Arts & Culture

Oxford Canal Festival and Pooch Parade: Two-Legged Creatures Need Not Apply

By Cait Sweeney at

Dogs who look like their owners, dogs who have the brightest eyes, waggiest tail, or shiniest coat are invited to persuade their owners to enter them in Oxford Canal Festival’s very own Dog Show.

Make no bones about it, it isn’t just humans who enjoy the canal. Dogs are also part of towpath life – and now they have the chance to take centre stage, where the Dog Show promises to be one of the highlights of the Festival.

Fortunately, it’s not only the best-looking dogs which need apply. Canine C-listers are invited to strut their scruff in various different categories, including an agility test. No experience necessary; the judges are on the lookout for personality as well as looks and obedience.

The dog-friendly Festival takes place on Saturday 8 September, with plenty of live music, storytelling, talks, walks and an evening concert on Sunday September 9 – all with a canal side theme.

The previous Festival’s dog show was hugely popular with dog-lovers of all ages, so anyone who wants to enter their dog for the chance of a winning a special rosette is advised to enter in good time. To register your dog, visit

Oxford Canal Festival
Oxford’s rivers are famous – the Thames, Isis and Cherwell are household names. But Oxford also boasts a more unassuming waterway –and a late-summer Festival aims to put it squarely on the map, celebrating the history and culture of one of the city’s best-kept secrets. The Oxford Canal Festival – a free event – takes place on the weekend of September 7/8/9. Any proceeds go towards the purchase and restoration of a community performance boat.

Much-loved by artists and writers from the pre-Raphaelites to John Betjeman and Philip Pullman (the canal is a major feature in Lyra’s Oxford), the Oxford Canal has a rich tradition of music, storytelling and folk art, which will be reflected across the Festival weekend.

The main event is on Saturday Sept 8 at Aristotle Lane Recreation Ground and along the towpath, with live music from around the world and canal-themed folk, entertainment, food, drink, crafts, canal boat traders, talks, walks and boat trips.
Wraparound musical events take place on Friday evening with a canal-themed jam session in a local pub and on Sunday evening with a Big Canal Ceilidh in the Romanesque canalside church St Barnabas.

The Festival also includes Canal Olympics, a Dog Show, Fancy Dress parade and a special screening of canal-themed film shorts, including the winners of a young people’s video competition, using mobile phones.

Oxford Canal Festival is part of Oxford’s Open Doors event – the perfect opportunity for an end of summer weekend in one of the UK’s favourite cities. The Festival is supported by Oxford University, Oxford City and County Council and Inland Waterways Association.

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