The Totally Thames festival is back for another year of epic events to celebrate one of the greatest waterways in the UK. With an abundance of creative exhibitions, boat tours and races, Londoners are set to see their river take centre stage throughout the month of September.
Here are five event highlights, all of which can be reached on foot, by bus or on the underground from London Paddington when you book train tickets to the capital.
4 September – 6 October
This 60-foot long, handcrafted wooden ship can’t be missed. Head towards the Tate Modern and you’ll soon see the vibrant and colourful sails of The Ship of Tolerance made by children from London primary schools, Great Ormond Street Hospital and refugee centres in Birmingham, Leeds, Peterborough and Calais. It’s an impressive and important piece of artwork that’s part of an international project dedicated to educating and inspiring young people through the universal language of art. Go see it!
Where: River Thames by Tate Modern, SE1 9JH
1–3 and 17–18 September, 6:30–9:30pm
What better way to see London’s landmarks than by water? Add a glorious sunset and a kayak to the mix and you could reach peak mindfulness. No phones, no distractions, just you and your group gliding along the Thames from Battersea to Greenwich. This three-hour adventure will take you past The Houses of Parliament, St Paul’s, Bank Side, The City Tower Bridge and the Old Navel College, to name just a few of the capital’s most captivating sights.
Where: The beach by St Mary’s Church, Battersea, SW11 3LX
Entry: £67 + booking fee
4 & 18 September, 6pm–7:30pm
With a 2,000-year history to its name, there’s a lot to learn about the evolution of the River Thames and its incredible contributions to London. Years ago, the waters were ruled and run by men – though a number of enterprising women were able to break through that barrier – selling fish, swimming through murky waves and even building bridges. Join in with this fascinating walk along the water’s edge hosted by In Her Shoes and discover all there is to know about some of the great women who fought for a place in what was once a male-only industry.
Where: Starting point – Blackfriars Station, EC4V 4DY
Entry: Free but booking required
5 and 10 September, 9:15pm–10pm; 12 and 19 September, 9pm–9:45pm
Sail under some of London’s most beautiful bridges at night and view their mesmerising latticework, which has been artistically lit for the first time. Illuminated River is a new public art commission aiming to transform the capital at night, lighting up to 15 bridges on the River Thames, four of which have been officially lit already. Guides and experts from Historic England will join you on your journey beneath the rivets of London, Cannon Street, Southwark and Millennium bridges.
Where: 5 and 10 September – London Bridge City Pier, SE1 2QP; 12 and 19 September – Tower Millennium Pier, EC3N 4DT
Entry: £6 or concessions £4.50
14 September, 11:20am
There’s nothing like a river marathon to get the heart pumping. Enjoy this super-charged, adrenaline-fueled Great River Race and watch as some 2,500 competitors strive to cross the finish line first. Expect to see everything from regular racers to fun rowers, and Chinese dragon boats to Hawaiian war canoes. It’s set to be a spectacle.
Where: Start – Millwall, E14 3QS; finish – Ham, TW10 7RS
For the full programme of events at this year’s Totally Thames, visit totallythames.org/whats-on