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Wey River Festival, 16 September 2023, Dapdune Wharf

Illuminated baots on the river at dusk
Wey River Festival illuminated pageant | © National Trust Images/John Millar

The 31st Wey River Festival will take place on 16 September at Dapdune Wharf, in the heart of Guildford, with food and craft stalls and children’s activities culminating in a colourful evening illuminated pageant.

History of the festival

The inspiration for the festival was the Inland Waterways Association rally held on the National Trust-owned River Wey Navigation in 1970 when 380 boats and 15,000 people attended. A couple of boating families got together several years later, determined to provide an event for the boating community on the waterway. Since 1999 the event has been supported by the National Trust, with a committee of volunteer boaters organising, planning and delivering the event for both boaters and the public alike to enjoy. It has been cancelled only three times: during the droughts of 2005 and 2006, and last year, due to the sad loss of Her Majesty, the Queen.

What is it all about?

The festival is free to enter. Friday night is the boaters’ social, with live entertainment. As always, we’ll have the boater’s raffle to raise money for the property and the barbecues will be out for you to cook whatever you fancy! So come along over to the Wharf, meet folk and join the fun.

On Saturday the gates open at 11am. Visitors can browse local food and craft stalls, enjoy the sights and sounds of Morris dancers and a brass band, and chat to representatives from the RSPB, British Canoeing, Surrey Wildlife Trust and many more. Children’s activities take place on the Adventure Island and include den building, bug hunting, games and more.

The highlight of the event is the Saturday evening illuminated pageant, which processes slowly downstream from the centre of Guildford to Dapdune Wharf, where it is met by crowds on the Wharf and live music.

When is it happening?

The River Wey Festival takes place on Saturday 16 September from 11am to 8.30pm. Free entry to Dapdune Wharf. There is no parking at the Wharf although drop off is available. It is advisable to park in one of the many car parks in Guildford and come down to the Wharf on foot.

For boaters visiting from other waterways, we are offering 50% off a seven-day visitor licence if you attend the festival. If you are not already familiar with the Wey Navigations, this will give you the chance to explore this beautiful and tranquil waterway that stretches from Thames Lock down to Godalming. Passing through beautiful scenery and SSSIs as well as industrial areas that still pay tribute to the heritage of the Navigation, we would encourage anyone coming to the festival to explore this stunning waterway and see it for yourselves.