We are awash with excitement. Waves of anticipation are crashing onto the shores of Londonist Towers as time trickles away, bringing us ever closer to the month-long celebration of the River Thames and the great raft of riverine happenings coming to London as part of Totally Thames.
Watery puns aside, there really is plenty to look forward to this September. Archaeology, maps, walking and cycling tours, free film, singing, lost rivers, architecture, art and more. In fact anyone with even a passing interest in the past, present or future of London’s major river will have much to occupy themselves with.
It’s worth looking on the events website for a full list of happenings, but today we’d like to focus on those events that will get us out on the water or down on the foreshore.
No lack of boating pleasure here. Enjoy a guided walk around Richmond before heading over to Hampton Court Palace and Gardens, Kingston, or a cruise aboard one of the most famous of London’s wooden vessels still afloat, Lady Daphne.
Discover Brunel’s London over water and on foot, with a boat trip followed by a descent into the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world, the Thames Tunnel.
Or choose the adrenaline-fuelled option with Totally Thames Blast — a 15-minute high-speed dash across the river on board a brand new ‘Thames Rocket’.
Kayaking, paddle boarding and speedboat trips are also available.
On The Foreshore
Partake in the ancient London tradition of firing on the foreshore. First, use Thames clay from the Bankside foreshore to craft your own pot, figure or whatever else takes your fancy. Then join the firing session a couple of weeks later, where two bonfires will be constructed from Thames driftwood and your wares will be ‘fired’. Attendees are welcome to stay until the tide comes in and douses the flames (and then take home their treasure of course).
Make the most of a rare opportunity to visit the once bustling beach at Tower Bridge. It’s not usually open to the public, so make your way down and have a root around. Experts will be on hand to identify your finds.
If you can’t make the Tower Beach Open Day but have a treasure you’d like identifying, take it to the Foreshore Finds Open Morning. There’ll also be talks from leading Thames archaeologist Dr Fiona Haughey and Thames Discovery’s Eliott Wragg, about London’s social and maritime history.
Or get stuck in with a foreshore clean-up. Give Gabriel’s Wharf or Isle of Dogs a makeover with other volunteers and charity Thames21. We’ve been mudlarking with them before and have only great things to say — it provides a unique perspective on the river while doing some good in the process.
In residence at St Katharine Docks, the Floating Cinema is home to screenings, workshops and talks across five days. All activities are river-themed, including a participatory event looking at the history of the Docks, a screening of shorts about London’s waterways and a talk on the use of water in art.
For more on-river talks, pay a visit to the newly ‘dazzled’ HMS President and discover the history of this World War I naval camouflage, and its connection to avant-garde art today.
The Thames SENSEation
A highlight of Totally Thames has to be The Thames SENSEation, a multi-sensory festival designed by the award-winning House of Gastrophonic. The festival allows Londoners to experience a sensory history of the River Thames via touch, sight, aroma, sound and taste.
Positioned in Victoria Embankment Gardens, the festival is not technically ‘on’ the river but nonetheless the experience takes you on a journey where you see how the Thames has been a gateway through which new tastes, aromas and textures have arrived into the capital, for many centuries.
Last but by no means least (if we do say so ourselves), may we recommend Londonist Afloat. We have various activities taking place, all river-borne, and we’d love for you to come along.
On 12 September we have our Totally Thames Quiz on a boat. Challenge your riverine knowledge and tackle 50 questions from quiz master and Londonist Editor-at-Large, Matt Brown. As we make our way down the river, the quiz will correspond to the buildings, bridges and landmarks as we pass them. A London-themed goodie bag is up for grabs…
We also have a weekend of lively sessions on board the HMS President, jam-packed with Terrific Tales of the Thames. Join us for riverine geekery, facting, folklore, immersion, floatation, history, stories and songs. Remember, you can book individual talks or get a day pass which gives you access to all sessions taking place that day. Hopefully see you there!
Londonist is proud media partner to Totally Thames, which runs throughout September. Find out what’s on here and for updates, follow Thames Festival on Facebook and @TotallyThames #TotallyThames on Twitter.