Each year in London, a 42-mile stretch of the River Thames bursts into a hive of activity, all thanks to the annual Totally Thames festival. Taking place over the entire month of September, this festival celebrates the Thames with an exciting lineup of arts festivals, community events, river races and other fun-filled activities.
The Great River Race
The city’s annual river marathon, the Great River Race is always a spectacle to watch, as 300 teams from around the world will be competing to become the Traditional Boat Champions of the UK. With everyone from serious athletes in Hawaiian war canoes to Viking longboats filled with recreational rowers wearing fancy dress costumes, this race is worth watching, and, if you follow with it along the race route, you will end up in Richmond, greeted with live music and food stalls.
Ik-Joong Kang is one of the most revered artists to have come from South Korea, and Floating Dreams is a major installation of his, placed in the center of the Thames. The piece was created with the use of 500 drawings, collected from the generation of those that were forced to flee North Korea, leaving their homes and loved ones behind. The installation serves as a memorial to those that were divided during the Korean War, and is one of the most powerful pieces that the city has seen in a while.
The Singing Bridge
Artist and composer Claudia Molitor has created a one-of-a-kind musical and historic experience on London’s Waterloo Bridge, in honor of the Totally Thames Festival. Inspired by the surprising history of Waterloo Bridge, the artist put together a 40-minute musical experience, that tells the tale of the way in which the bridge was rebuilt by mostly women during the second World War.
Tall Ships Cruise
Many would argue that London is a city best seen from the water, and the tall ships cruise is an unforgettable way in which to do this. This opportunity is only available for four days, and enables visitors to enjoy a two-hour cruise down the Thames from the Royal Arsenal Pier in Woolwich. These tall ships are most definitely impressive, and give you an idea of what the vessels on the river would have looked like not too long ago.
Barnes Film Festival
The Barnes Film Festival is totally new to the Totally Thames Festival this year, but is an event that is highly anticipated by many. Featuring the work of young filmmakers from all across the UK, there will be viewings available that you will not be able to see anywhere else. In addition to the films presented, there will also be several related workshops, discussions and gatherings, featuring some of the country’s most revered cinematic talent.
With over 150 different official events to choose from, the Totally Thames Festival usually attracts at least 2 million Londoners each year, with many more coming from far and wide. With everything from art installations to boat races, this is a festival that highlights the beautiful diversity that the city of London has to offer.