From the annual boat race to the many tours and parties afloat it, the River Thames is the centrepoint of masses of London activity. Why, you only have to watch the opening credits of EastEnders to grasp its importance in the geography of our Capital. And this September, Totally Thames will launch its inaugural arts and culture festival celebrating the river and its many offerings, featuring over 100 river-related events along its entire 42 mile course through the capital.
Delivered by the team behind the annual Thames Festival, the event will feature arts, music and community festivals, colourful regattas, thrilling river races, foreshore archaeology, exploration, environmental and educational activities, as well as river-linked activities in all 17 London riverside boroughs.
One event encompasses the river in its entirety – the Source to Sea River Relay is the journey of a bottle of water, taken from the source of the River Thames carried down the entire length of the river to central London. This event will involve communities along the whole of the Thames from its source in the Gloucestershire Hills to the Thames Estuary.
Some areas along the Thames are getting involved for the first time in 2014, such as Nine Elms on the South Bank – Central London’s newest district – who will be showcasing two exciting Totally Thames commissions. Renowned Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman – known for his outsized Rubber Duck – will present his first ever UK commission, an extraordinary new sculpture for the River Thames. Hofman’s sculptures often originate from everyday objects, but the design of the UK commission (which will be a closely guarded secret until its unveiling) has been inspired by the fascinating pre-history of the river. The launch on Tuesday 2 September will reveal the sculpture when it is towed upriver from its build site to its end position at Nine Elms on the South Bank, where it will remain in situ until 29 September. Also, on the evenings of Friday 5 and Saturday 6 September, The Fire Garden by Carabosse at Battersea Power Station, one of the last ever public events before the site closes for development, will see the internationally renowned French installation artists transform the iconic grounds into a spectacular display of fire and light – a “fire garden”.
Other major events being delivered by partners for the inaugural Totally Thames season include Blue Ribbon Village,The Big Thames Tidy, The Thames SENSEation(designed by the award-winning House of Gastrophonic in partnership with The Northbank) and dozens of river events, in Richmond, Kew, Brentford, Hammersmith, Imperial Wharf, Wandsworth, Vauxhall, South Bank, More London, St Katharine Docks and the Isle of Dogs, amongst others. And, to encourage people to travel by river, Totally Thames will be promoting 2-for-1 ticket offers on most Thames river services throughout September.
Totally Thames Director, Adrian Evans, said: “In September we want the River Thames, the capital’s greatest natural asset, to be a source of constant inspiration and delight. Our aim is to commission amazing projects and to work with partners in all of London’s 17 riverfront boroughs, and thereby develop the biggest and most exciting season of river events in the world.”
For a full listing of events and to book tickets for individual attractions, head to www.totallythames.org.