Ten of the coolest and quirkiest floating market boats

Whether you're visiting a floating market or just strolling along your local towpath, keep an eye out for some of these wonderfully unique business boats.

Business boats Business boats

Take a look at our events listings for upcoming floating markets, or visit your local canal and see what you discover from the towpath.

To whet your appetite, here are just ten types of cool and quirky independent businesses you may find.

1. Art

Paintings, drawings, photography... the list is endless. Be prepared to be blown away by the talent on display if you happen upon one of these business boats, like those of TheArtBoat.

Why not unleash your own artistic potential through creative workshops, like those offered by Floating Crafts?

2. Clothing

Add to your wardrobe with hand-made and fair trade garments from The Bird Box & Jenny Wren, or opt for cosy woolly knits from The Wool Baa

You can even find unique businesses like CorkTrend, who make flip-flops, hats, handbags and accessories from this eco-friendly, versatile material.

3. Garden and wildlife products

Grab yourself a new bug hotel or bird box to encourage nature into your garden. Perhaps pick up some pretty perennials from Bria Studio or an array of herbs and spices at The Herb Boat to grow at home.

Herb boat Herb boat

4. Health and beauty

From body butters to lip balms and everything in between, if you stop by a beauty boat, chances are the products on offer are hand-made and cruelty-free, like those on sale from The Soap Boat

Why not tick 'haircut' off your to-do list and pop in for a quick trim at Haircuts Afloat?

5. Music and entertainment

Acoustic tunes floating on the breeze of a warm summer's day are always a winner. Some boats, like Barge Fiodra and The Village Butty, function as entertainment spaces for music gigs, comedy, film screenings, live theatre and more. The Widgeon Theatre Boat even hosts its own radio show.

6. Food and drink

Anything tasty that can be consumed is likely to be sold somewhere along our canals. From dedicated cheese boats to pick 'n' mix assortments, cute cupcakes to lunches straight from the coals of a BBQ, it's always good to be hungry when you visit a floating market. 

And don't forget the drinks! Gangplank Spirts and Preserves forage wild ingredients for their spirits and cordials, and pride themselves on running a low-impact, sustainable service. Meanwhile, over at Holly - The Cafe Boat, it's is all about the coffee.

Food and drink boat Food and drink boat

7. Handmade crafts

Visit one of these boats and you're bound to treat yourself to something unique - and possibly tick off a few birthday or Christmas gifts at the same time.

DV Design Studios offer bespoke laser cut woodwork and gifts, whilst The Glass Barge make a beautiful selection of jewellery.

You can even buy recycled antique cutlery from the likes of The Quirky Cutlery Store - a sure-fire way to get the conversation flowing at your next dinner party.

8. Tarot readings

Discover what lies in your future and have a tarot reading from those in the know, like Wendy Witch on the Grand Union Canal.

You could also stock up on your selection of gemstones and crystals for that extra dose of positive energy, from businesses such as Crystals Afloat.

9. Books

Find your next favourite novel at one of these boats, and don’t forget to drop in any pre-loved books ready for another keen reader to enjoy.

There are even boats, like Mrs D's Bookbox, dedicated entirely to children's novels.

Floating bookshop Floating bookshop

10. Massages

Feeling stressed? We're hoping that your time spent by water will give your mood a boost, but why not treat yourself to some onboard reflexology from floating businesses like Brightstar or Magic Hands Massage, for an extra moment of zen.

Last date edited: 4 July 2022