THE third annual Leigh Canal Festival will be held this weekend and organisers are confident that it will be the best yet.

Last year's event attracted more than 3,600 people and organisers are hopeful of an even bigger turnout this Friday to Sunday.

The festival is spread over several sites, including the Waterside Inn, the Turnpike Gallery and Leigh Spinners Mill.

There will be boat trips and free canoe taster sessions on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.

A beer festival will again take place at the Waterside Inn and there will be canal art, a climbing wall, children's events and a range of stalls to enjoy.

The third phase of the restoration of Leigh Spinners Mill will be unveiled with historical machinery on show as well as folk legend Jesse 'The Cropper' Graham's bicycle.

A free short play centred around the role of women in the First World War will be staged at The Bridge at Leigh community hub at 2pm on both Saturday and Sunday.

The King Street venue will also offer a night of musical entertainment on Saturday.

Other Leigh Canal Festival attractions include a vintage car display and a Turnpike Gallery exhibition.

The festival is organised by a group led by the Canal and River Trust and linked into the national Heritage Open Days weekend initiative.

Chantelle Seaborne, regional manager of the trust, said: “We are delighted that the festival is back for its third year and we have managed to attract more events which will appeal to all and most of them will be free.

“The canal network is the reason for Leigh’s development and it is appropriate that we should celebrate our heritage."

Free car parking will be available at Adactus Housing Group Ltd’s staff car park at Turner House on King Street.

The event has been made possible thanks to support from Wigan Council, Adactus, Canal and River Trust, Bridgewater Canal, BWML Marinas, the rotary clubs of Astley and Leigh, local artists and volunteer organisers.

For more information about the festival call Peter Rowlinson on 07443 496911.