Grand ‘Lighting up the Canal’ to close waterway’s bicentenary

The ‘Lighting up the Canal’ festivities will be held at Theatr Brycheiniog and Brecon’s Canal Basin between 5pm and 7pm on Saturday, December 1, and will be a spectacular end to the year-long series of events marking the canal’s bicentenary. 

The extravaganza will officially get underway in the morning when a peal of bells – starting up in Pontymoile Basin – will be taken up by churches along the canal all the way to Brecon where it will sound at 6pm signalling a lantern procession to the canal basin. Lantern makers will then float their lit creations onto the water to ‘Light up the Canal’. Spectacular fire sculptures, street performers and live music will entertain the crowds enjoying the show, and seasonal refreshments will be available at Theatr Brycheiniog after the main event. Theatr Brycheiniog will also be getting in the festive spirit – hosting the Dick Whittington pantomime starring musical theatre’s Peter Carrie and theatre goers who make the effort to get to the performance early will be in for a treat.

Over the past few weeks, residents in Crickhowell, Llangattock, Llangynidr, Talybont-on-Usk, Pencelli, Llanfrynach and Brecon have been attending free lantern making workshops creating floating lights ready for the grand ‘Lighting up the Canal’ celebration. If you haven’t yet had chance to attend one of the creative classes another free lantern making workshop will be held at 5pm on the day of ‘Lighting up the Canal’. 

The ‘Lighting up the Canal’ event is funded by Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority’s Rural Alliances project and Powys County Council, and run in collaboration with Theatr Brycheiniog, Arts Alive and the Canal & River Trust.

Brecon is expected to be a hive of activity on Saturday, December 1 with a wide range of other events taking place around the area during the day. Among the local highlights are Christmas Fairs in Brecon town centre and the Welsh Venison Centre in Bwlch, where great arts, crafts, Christmas gifts and local food will be available. ‘Lighting up the Canal’ organisers are encouraging anyone attending these local events to visit Brecon’s canal basin to witness the historic ‘Lighting’ of the canal.

Carol Williams, Tourism Growth Area Project Officer for Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “Celebrations to mark the bicentenary of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal have been held throughout the year – but we’re definitely saving the best until last with ‘Lighting up the Canal’. The event promises to be a wash of light and colour – a really fitting tribute to a historic landmark that has been such an important part of life here in the Bannau Brycheiniog and beyond for so many years.”

Julie James, Chairman of Bannau Brycheiniog National Park Authority, said: “’Lighting up the Canal’ promises to be good fun for all the family. I hope residents and visitors can join us for this very special occasion.”

Events have been held throughout the year to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal. Festivities got underway in February with a peal of bells being rung at 30 churches along the 49-mile canal – recreating the original opening of the waterway back in 1812,  while a ‘Beacons to the Sea’ beer and special ‘Canalman’s Lunch’ ploughman’s sandwich were commissioned as a tasty way to commemorate the waterway’s 200th birthday. Other celebratory events held over the course of the year include photographic exhibitions, family events, guided walks, charity cycles and a Canal Dog of the Year competition searching for the most photographic canines posing next to, in, or on the canal.

For more information about ‘Lighting up the Canal’ please contact Justine Wheatley at Arts Alive on 01873 811579 or email