Totally Thames: London's Month-Long Festival Of All Things Riverine

Will Noble
By Will Noble Last edited 10 months ago

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Last Updated 21 July 2023

Totally Thames: London's Month-Long Festival Of All Things Riverine
An assortment of small boats on the Thames, loaded with people wearing various brightly coloured clothes
300 boat crews take part in the Great River Race on 16 September. Image: Alan Skene

Totally Thames — London's annual celebration of everything riverine — returns for its 27th year, in 2023. Here, we dip our toe into the cultural waters, to bring you our pick of events.

Hosted by the Thames Festival Trust, Totally Thames runs across 20 boroughs (including the City) throughout September. There are exhibitions, performances, art installations, boat trips, walks, talks and more — all designed to help you learn about, and appreciate, the Thames, as well as London's multitude of other rivers, docks, beaches and the like.

A young man and woman 'fight' each other with ribbons tied to sticks
Creatures of the Kelp is a mash-up of mythology and science.

In 2023, the festival hub is in a different area each week: week #1 Brentford; week #2 Royal Docks; week #3 London Bridge; week #4 Greenwich; week #5 Kingston. Some events are free, others are paid-for.

Here's a smattering of happenings that've caught our eye:

  • Creatures of the Kelp (1-4 Sept) This mash-up of mythology and science explores the slew of UMOs (Unidentified Marine Objects) sighted around British shores over the past two centuries.
  • Thames Sightseeing, Brunel River Cruise (1-27 Sept) Hop on a Thames Clipper to admire the bridges and tunnels of the Brunels, in a history-packed tour led by London Walks' Robert Hulse.
  • Climate Cabaret (7-11 Sept) A variety show packed with music, burlesque and biodegradable glitter, Climate Cabaret promises us a less doom-mongery glimpse into the future.
  • Canada Water: Building Victorian London (9 Sept) Don a VR headset and traverse the Canadian timber supply chain from the docks in London back to the timber coves in Quebec City.
  • Ebb and Flow (9-10 Sept) Małgorzata Lisiecka takes to the shores of Silvertown to install an artwork which asks whether the Thames itself can be an artist.
  • Great River Race (16 Sept) 300 boat crews compete in this extraordinary marathon along the Thames from Millwall to Richmond.
  • Pump by Knot (22 Sept-1 Oct) The majestic Crossness Pumping Station is the setting for this intriguing-looking show from performance duo Knot, who react directly to the architecture around them.
  • Mudlarking into the Future (30 Sept) A discussion from the Society of Thames Mudlarks on what they've achieved over the past four decades, and how their finds can be used to promote social justice and inclusion today.

Totally Thames, London-wide, throughout September. Find out more — and even 'build your own festival plan' — on the official website.