The Thames is a busy place. As the lifeblood of London, there is always something happening on, or alongside, the river. As a company that spends much of its time afloat, we get the opportunity to watch the events from the water, which we can safely say is the best way to enjoy them. Not only do you beat the crowds, you also get right into the heart of each festival, regatta and celebration.
Here are our pick of the top 2014 events on the Thames. Of course they can all be experienced from the bank, and we will be sure to wave at you as we pass, but if you want to be a part of a unique London river experience, join us on-board!
Mayor’s Thames festival
This spectacular 10-day festival is full of free events that celebrate London and the Thames. There are art, music and educational events taking part along the banks and on the bridges, as well as on the water. One of our favourites is the Ships’ Opera, a fantastic display from an armada of historic vessels. It actually travels down the river – a concerto of steam whistles, bells, horns, hooters, sirens and cannons.
Exact dates are still to be confirmed, but we do know that the fun and games will take place in September.
I feel the need for speed! The Venture Cup showcases some of the most powerful boats in the world. It is a huge feat of endurance, with teams racing 25,000 miles from London to Monte Carlo – pedal to the metal for at least 5 bone-shattering hours a day. Official stats on their site claim that “boats and crew will experience hull-snapping forces of 40g and hearts will be racing at 150+bpm” as the boats soar over, through and even under the waves! Head down to the river in June, where you can meet some of the ‘million euro’ teams, as well as the ‘built it in the shed with my pub mates’ ensembles!
Royal Greenwich Regatta
The Falmouth – Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Regatta 2014 is a world-class sailing event. It offers anyone and everyone the chance to sail in a fully-rigged Tall Ship, in a 4-day race from Cornwall to London. The final destination is Royal Greenwich, where there will be lots of harbour side events. It is the largest Tall Ship event to come to London in 25 years, and the spectacle of 50 ships all gathered in the harbour, will be pretty exciting! Dates for the diary are 5-9 September, unless of course you want to sign up for a leg of the journey. Boats leave Falmouth on 31st August.
This is a real ‘Londoners’ event – a 300 year old amateur rowing race for up to six ‘Watermen of the River Thames’. Originally organised by Thomas Doggett, an actor, the winner was awarded a traditional red Waterman’s coat and silver badge. It is believed to be the oldest rowing race in the world and it takes place between London Bridge and Cadogan Pier in the last two weeks of July. Of course there are fewer watermen now than 300 years ago, but it is still a highly coveted prize and the fanfare surrounding it is contagious!
Oxford and Cambridge boat race
A little more popular than Doggett’s, but every bit as competitive! Oxford and Cambridge Universities have competed for 159 years, and this April will be the 160th race. Watched by thousands along the banks of The Tideway, between Putney and Mortlake in London, and by millions more on TV around the world, it is a unique sporting event. Everyone has a favourite – but which is yours?
Return of the Clipper Round the World Race
On the 1st September 2013, a fleet of twelve Clippers sailed out of London. It was stage one of a 16 leg trip around the world, and the unusual thing about this race is that every boat has a crew of amateurs. Now the boats are due to return – windswept and full of stories of the sea. Keep an eye on the website to find out exact dates, but organisers predict the boats to start their descent down the Thames on 12th July. As you can imagine, it is an enormous challenge for everyone on board, and whether you join the crew for just one race, or the whole round the world challenge, it is a life-changing experience.