The Mayor’s Thames Festival has changed. Instead of trying to top the crash, bang, wallop finale to summer 2012, which saw the festival share a firework finale with the Paralympic Closing Ceremony, this year’s annual end-of-summer celebration meanders majestically through 10 days of creative and spectacular riverine and waterborne arts and events.
The centrepiece is undoubtedly A Ship’s Opera, which will see an armada of historic vessels from the age of sail, steam and diesel perform a live, moving, operatic concerto of steam whistles, bells, horns, hooters, sirens and cannon on Saturday 14 September. Specially created for the festival by twice Turner Prize-nominated sculptor and sound-maker Richard Wilson and CultureShip curators Zatorski+Zatorski, the event begins with a lone tug heading in to London from the Estuary and climaxes as the musical fleet passes under Tower Bridge to join HMS Belfast in a rousing finale.
Two races will draw crowds to the riverbanks during the festival. The Steve Faldo Memorial Barge-driving Race is known as the world’s slowest and most colourful river race, while the Great River Race is a rowing marathon for more than 300 crews in all sorts of vessels — think Jubilee flotilla but in a hurry. Other events happening on the river include a rally of the Dunkirk Little Ships, a boat relay from the source of the Thames to central London and a comedy river cruise.
On dry land, there will be riverside screenings of 125 short films by Danish artist, Nikolaj Larsen, celebrating the people who live and work on the river, giant riverside artworks, walks and talks about London’s lost rivers, huge choral happenings and alternative maps of the Thames.
Londonist is also getting involved and we’re busy planning one of our signature quirky events. We’re proud to be official Digital Media Partner to the Mayor’s Thames Festival so watch out for us in the final programme, to be announced on 31 July.
The Mayor’s Thames Festival runs 6-15 September 2013.
Londonist is proud to be Digital Media Partner to the Mayor’s Thames Festival.