The Thames Festival – a spectacular 10-day celebration of London’s River Thames

by Ian Tokelove

Thames Festival Fireworks

The Mayor’s Thames Festival is an annual event of river-based activities, public art and performances, culminating in a stunning firework display.

In previous years the event has been packed into one weekend but 2013 sees the Festival extended to a 10-day celebration of the river – with a wide range of events taking place on the water and along the river banks and bridges.

Much of the festival will take place between Lambeth Bridge and St Katharine Docks, but events will take place all along the river, from the source of the Thames and right down to the sea. The festival runs from 6th to 15th September 2013.

Events to watch out for include:

  • A Water-borne Ships’ Opera: The centrepiece of this year’s Thames Festival, 1513: A Ships’ Opera will begin at the mouth of the Thames Estuary on the morning of the 14th September, launching a day-long, three-act performance that will reach its climax in a spectacular sound, steam and light display in the Pool of London later that night.
  • The World’s Slowest, and Most Colourful, River Race. On Sunday, 15th September a series of massive, steel barges will be inched along the Thames in central London by newcomers, watermen and lightermen.
  • What’s So Funny About the Thames? Doug Fishbone takes a comical, but darkly surreal, look at the Thames in a series of guided cruises.
  • The Face that Launched Another Thousand Ships: One year on from The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, works by artists recording the River Pageant go on public display.
  • How the Thames Shaped the Movies: From the legendary title sequence of The World is Not Enough to the ending of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, this talk is one of a series of lectures and discussions about the Thames.
  • Rivers Run Under It: A series of walks will include an exploration of London’s lost rivers: from the Walbrook, the river that shaped London, to the Fleet, once the centre of London life.
  • London’s Other Marathon: More than 300 crews from all around the world take part in the epic Great River Race up the Thames in vessels of all shapes and sizes. Saturday, 7 September.

There are many other events and installations to enjoy – see for more information. The full programme for this year’s festival will be announced on 31 July 2013.

Thames Festival 2013

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