by Hope Wisechild
The Mayor’s Thames Festival has reinvented itself for 2013 as a whole season celebrating the river, with core events between Lambeth Bridge and St Katherine Docks from Friday 6 to Sunday 15 September.Doug Fishbone – photo courtesy of The Mayor’s Thames Festival
Highlights included a water-borne original opera, a huge children’s choir and the Thames’ biggest boat race. Throughout the ten days a one-man sponsored walk, multi-sport relay and giant glittering ‘YES’ sculpture each traveled the Thames from source to mouth and riverside walkways hosted exhibitions like Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen’s video portrait of Thames people, children’s artworks and food and craft markets.
A programme crammed with everything from guided walks to fine dining experiences aims to entice absolutely everyone to engage with the river. You could treat yourself to a champagne cruise evening with Sir Andrew Motion, join a surreal boat tour with postmodern performance artist Doug Fishbone, or take to the water in a kayak.
Even with no fireworks this year, there’s almost too much going on. Here we list just a few of the many free treats of this year’s event.
Adrift Friday 23 August to 29 September
You’ll find artist Hew Locke’s evocative installation at ‘the mariners’ church’, All Hallows by the Tower in Byward Street, 8am-6pm weekdays, 10am-5pm Saturdays and 10am-1pm Sundays.
The Great British Carnival Saturday 7 September
UK Samba and Soca bands descended on Bernie Spain Gardens at noon to kickstart the festival with open workshops to 2pm followed by showcase performances ‘til 10pm.The Great River Race – photo Eva Piscova_
sing Saturday 7 September
The first of 300+ international crews from the athletic to the plain silly left Millwall Dock Slipway, Docklands at 12:10pm. The entire race takes an hour or more to pass any vantage point.
1513: A Ship’s Opera Saturday 14 September
Artists Richard Wilson and Zatorski & Zatorski present a musical celebration of the river’s boats. Look out for lone steam barge, The Barking, on her way upstream to Trinity Buoy Wharf for Act Two at 6:25pm, when various other vessels muster and call to shore. Act Three, the spectacular festival climax, took place at The Pool of London, 7:45-8:30pm.
Blue Ribbon Village Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September
From 12-6pm, Potters Fields Park, Tooley Street, hosted fun activities including clay sculpture and origami. Hear Sea Shanties and nautical storytelling all day Saturday, or dance on Sunday to musical storytellers, accordion music or one of the wild afro-atlantic bands onstage hourly from 2pm.
An Afternoon of Singing at the Scoop Sunday 15 September
From 1pm, in the amphitheatre under City Hall, 600 London schoolkids presented historical songs inspired by the Thames. At 2:30, massed UK choirs sang 21st-century classics for WaterAid. The Trad Academy Sea Shanty Choir arrived at 4pm, followed by all-female pop-choir Lips from 5-5:45pm.