This year’s edition of the Thames Festival is fast approaching and organisers are promising a more exciting event than ever before – significantly expanding on their original remit in the hopes of creating one of the world’s biggest river-focused arts festivals.
In the past, the Thames Festival has always been a weekend-long series of riverside attractions taking place between Lambeth Bridge and St Katharine Docks – a glorious stretch of the Thames that’s home to landmarks like The Tower of London, the Houses of Parliament and many of the best luxury hotels in London.
The centrepiece is 1513: A Ships’ Opera, an enormous water-borne performance of a new work by Richard Wilson and Zatorski + Zatorski. The cast doesn’t consist of human singers, but rather of a veritable armada of historic vessels – tugs, steamboats and clippers equipped with steam whistles, horns and bells. Stars include the Trinity Lightship and HMS Belfast, and the ensemble will rove up and down the length of the river – travelling as far as the Thames Estuary.
Other attractions include a rally of the Little Ships that undertook the historic Dunkirk landings in 1940, the Thames’ first floating art fair, and a 600-strong children’s choir performing songs inspired by Henry VIII’s connections to the Thames.
“By shedding the restriction of a weekend and broadening its geographical horizons, combined with a fantastic and wide-ranging programme of events, the festival will inspire people to reconnect with London’s greatest natural asset in new and surprising ways,” says festival director Adrian Evans.
A full programme of events and activities can be found on the Thames Festival website. With the majority of attractions taking place on the river itself, the events are not ticketed – audiences have only to find a suitable vantage point from which to watch.