A guide to the Totally Thames Festival

Get yourself along to one or two of the amazing Totally Thames events happening throughout September.

September has arrived and with it the Totally Thames Festival. This month-long event is an opportunity to get involved with all sorts of activities based around London’s most famous waterway. Up until September 30th, those staying in serviced apartments in north London or elsewhere in the capital can enjoy a packed schedule of entertainment.

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Introducing Totally Thames

The 42-mile stretch of the River Thames that flows through London has been the focus of an annual event since 1997. This year is no exception and with 150 individual events taking place, it has become the biggest free open-air arts festival in the capital. There’s something for everyone, whatever floats your boat (get it?!).

Events can be split into five broad categories: On the river, performances, art installations, exhibitions and tours. Read on to discover the highlights of each of these elements and the parts you might like to get involved with.

On the river:

Thames River Swim – Black Lion Pub – September 7th

Around 100 open water enthusiasts take on the 1,500-metre swim from the Black Lion Pub in Hammersmith in this unique event. Things kick off at 6.15pm, with a safety briefing, and the challenge is perfectly timed to allow for tidal assistance on both the way towards Chiswick Eyot and the return journey.

Sail Royal Greenwich: Tall Ships – September 15th to 18th

The Tall Ships return to the River Thames this month and you have the opportunity to hop on board. Not only that, but cruise packages allow you to enjoy a meal and watch a spectacular firework display from the deck. You’ll sail from the Royal Arsenal Pier all the way to Tower Bridge, spotting some of London’s most iconic sights along the way.

Performances:

Light up the Ladies’ Bridge – Waterloo Bridge – September 22nd to 24th

Take a look at the wartime role that women took in London and the particular significance Waterloo Bridge has with the fairer sex. A series of performances, projections and films will really make these themes come to life.

Bascule Chamber Concerts – Tower Bridge – September 24th and 25th

As well as offering fantastic music, the Bascule Chamber Concerts promise the opportunity to see an incredible space too. That’s because the classic and contemporary score will be performed inside the subterranean part of Tower Bridge that is home to the counterweights when the structure is lifted. It’s a stunning piece of Victorian engineering and will provide added ambience to the event.

Exhibitions:

Life Afloat – Watermans Arts Centre – all month

People don’t just live alongside the Thames, but also upon it, as there is a long history of houseboat dwelling on the river. Even today, it is thought that around 1,000 people live between Teddington Lock and the Thames Barrier. Discover more about it at the Life Afloat exhibition, which is presented through photos, films and interviews.

Tide Line Thames – Thames-Side Studios – September 8th to 25th

The changing riverscape of the Thames is depicted by artist Anne Krinsky in a fascinating display that incorporates everything from photos and digital prints to paintings and projections. See the different things that come to light on the waterway between high and low tides.

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Installations:

Floating Dreams – Millennium Bridge – all month

It’s hard to miss the Floating Dreams sculpture when crossing the Millennium Bridge, as it is slap bang in the middle of the river and lit up for all to see. It has been created by artist Ik-Joong Kang and symbolises the millions of people who found their lives affected by the Korean War.

Fluxland, River Thames, September 7th to 24th

Hop aboard artist Cyril de Commarque’s mirrored boat for a ride along the Thames like you’ve never experienced it before. That’s because the stunning scenery will be reflected in the polyhedron form of the vessel and take on aspects of a whole different viewpoint.

Tours:

Foreshore Walks – various points along The City’s foreshore – until September 24th

So much history can be discovered along the foreshore, as archaeologists have been able to find remains from Roman times right up to the Victorian era. All of this can be explained during a series of guided walks throughout September, which focus on different stretches of the river.

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Tower Beach Open Day – near the Tower of London – September 18th

Experts will be on-hand to help advise as members of the public are invited to see what they can dig up on Tower Beach. Get there via the Queen’s Staircase and see if you can make the next big historical find. If it gives you a real taste for archaeology, then there will be stands set up to help you take your passion further in the future.

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