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Our programme for the Rochdale Canal Festival 2011 will be finalised soon, so keep checking! Here are some of the confirmed events.

13 August: Opening Event at Sowerby Bridge Wharf with games, rides, food, plants, canoeing and cycling.

Throughout the Festival: daily subsidised boat trips on the canal from the rear of the Stubbing Wharf pub, Hebden Bridge.

28 August Closing Event at Failsworth Basin (Oldham) with a canal walk, angling taster sessions, storytelling, cakes and much more!

Lots of other activities to follow.

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The Rochdale Canal Festival 2011 will be taking place from 13-28 August. During that 2 week period we will be providing a variety of different events along the length of the canal (which runs for 32 miles from Calderdale, through Rochdale and Oldham, to Central Manchester). At the moment we are still finalising our programme, but can guarantee a great range of free and low cost activities for people of all ages, including wildlife, watersport, arts and history events – and much more. Over the coming weeks we will let you know how we are getting on and give you further details of what is coming up.

If you would like to get more involved in the Festival or have a suggestion as to an event which we might include, please contact us at: rochdalecanalfestival2011@gmail.com

A frenzy of interest was finally satisfied on Tuesday evening when 30 intrepid explorers made their way into the darkness under the Great Northern Warehouse to see the remains of the Manchester and Salford Junction Canal which linked the Rochdale Canal to the River Irwell in the mid 1800s.

Since used during the 2nd World War as an air raid shelter the underground route of the canal takes you under Deansgate, Manchester Central and the Granada site.

For upcoming news on future underground tours go to http://www.waterways.org.uk/regions_branches/north_west/Manchester/manchester

The young participants of the Building Bridges: Creative Canal project enjoyed a paddle in the Rochdale Canal today under the new canal artwork. The artwork installed on Ben Healey Bridge in Littleborough marks the end of an exciting project funded through the National Lottery Heritage Lottery fund which aimed to enhance and build awareness of the Rochdale Canal as a valuable piece of local heritage, improve its appearance and support greater young person involvement in our waterways. The Waterways Trust, Fairbridge North Manchester, British Waterways and Rochdale Council worked together to provide hands on opportunities for young people to be involved in canal heritage and to work with artists Paul Pickford and Brian Raymond to explore canal heritage through art. Ideas and designs created by the young people were incorporated into the final piece of art now installed at Bridge 51.

Local residents and canal users are invited to have their say on a new canal towpath scheme running from Punchbowl Lock in Littleborough to Warland.

Funding for the towpath scheme has been secured by Rochdale Borough Council and comes from the South Pennines LEADER European rural funds. The towpath scheme is an extension to the multi-million pound Big Lottery funded Connect2 project which aims to make it easier for people to walk and cycle to the places they want to ‘connect2’ in and around their local communities.

There are a number of possible options for the Punchbowl Lock to Warland stretch, and Rochdale Borough Council wants you to have your say on how the towpath should look. The consultation will take place on Saturday 31 July from 10am to 12 noon at The Summit pub, Todmorden Road, Summit, Littleborough – and all are welcome to voice their opinions.

The Rochdale Canal festival got off to a great start as hundreds of people enjoyed the sunny weather and activities in Failsworth on Saturday. With boat trips, angling, crafts, nature activities, music, and spectacular Taiko drumming workshops there was plenty to keep all ages entertained. Officially opened by the Worshipful Mayor of Oldham the festival launch marked the start of a week packed with activities for all ages. Have a look at the full programme for all the other activities still on offer.

Tantara Taiko drumming band at the Festival launch