The Mayor’s Thames Festival

By | Category: Travel news

the Thames at a previous celebration

Starting tomorrow, London’s largest free festival takes place along the banks of the River Thames and, unlike previous years, lasts ten days instead of just a weekend.

The Mayor’s Thames Festival
is nothing more than a celebration of the river. Except that the Thames has been important since Roman times and centuries before that. It was on its banks that William the Conqueror built the Tower, where Henry VII had a palace in Greenwich and acquired another at Hampton Court. Julius Caesar had trouble crossing it whilst others were rowed down it to be beheaded via Traitors gate. At one time it was a giant sewer transporting London’s wast out to sea. Today, much cleaned up, it is home to otters, seals, salmon and other wildlife. There is a lot to celebrate.

Officially, the festival is about the river through art, music, and educational events both on the water and along its banks and bridges. Unofficially, it will be an excuse for a good time because there are so many events planned, far too many to list here.

Remember the Queen’s Pageant up the Thames last year for her golden jubilee? During this festival, 340 boats will take part in the river’s biggest race on the 7th September at ten past midday. The race is a 21 mile journey up the river from Docklands to Ham. As an alternative to that speed, there is a barge-driving Race where 40ft steel barges will compete in the river’s slowest race! And speaking of the Quenn’s Pageant, her rowbarge , the Gloriana, will be in St Katherine Docks on both weekends along with some of the Dunkirk little ships and other classic boats. There are showings of Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen’s Portrait of a River in 125 short films shot at various locations along the river, a considerable effort in itself from this video artist who has carved a niche in chronicling changing lives of communities. His work emphasises another theme; to increase the impact of culture on urban waterfronts, waterways and their communities.

Hampton Court, seen from the Thames

Bearing in mind who the Mayor of London is, Boris of course, you would expect that any festival with which is is even remotely involved with be big and bold. Maybe that’s why it has grown to occupy ten days; maybe that’s why instead of concentrating just on London, the festival has features that look at the whole of the Thames from Gloucestershire to the North Sea. Whatever the thinking, whatever the organisers might say; it’s party time in London again!

For more information, click here

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