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Totally Thames announces a month of river-based culture this September

July 16, 2016 Destination Europe No Comments Email Email

Thames Festival Trust is delighted to announce Totally Thames 2016, a season of 150 unmissable events which brings London’s river to life throughout the month of September with an exciting programme of arts, cultural, archaeological and river events.


Following the success of the first two festivals, Totally Thames 2016 presents a new programme of live and interactive art along the Thames’ entire 42-mile stretch through the capital. Floating Dreams is a major London installation by Ik-Joong Kang, one of South Korea’s most renowned and celebrated multimedia artists, and will take the form of a compelling, large-scale installation situated in the centre of the Thames by Millennium Bridge. Fluxland, an immersive artwork by French artistCyril de Commarque, will navigate along the Thames on a series of journeys over the course of the month, welcoming the public on board and becoming a space for debate.

The Singing Bridge is a brand new work by composer and artist Claudia Molitor, in partnership with Somerset House, which explores the fascinating history of Waterloo Bridge (aka ‘The Ladies’ Bridge’) and its rebuilding during World War II by a predominantly female workforce. These trail-blazing construction workers will also be celebrated in Concrete History’s Light up the Ladies’ Bridge, two evenings of live performances, film and large scale photographic projections on the National Theatre’s fly tower.

The commissioned live art programme will also explore London’s hidden and secret spaces. Following the sell-out success of 2015, Iain Chambers will curate the second Bascule Chamber Concert inside Tower Bridge, London’s greatest hidden space, for an intimate vocal concert. Theatre company Vocal Point will present a new play, Mooring in Brunel Museum’s remarkable Sinking Shaft, set on the Thames, Mooring is inspired by true events and confronts themes of riverside homelessness, remorse, and coming to terms with one’s past. The Brunel Museum will also host a wider series of events, including boat trips, opera, live music and more.

The largely untold and rich history of an estimated 1,000 houseboat residents along the tidal Thames is brought alive in a brand new exhibition Life Afloat. Delve into the stories and history of houseboat life along the Thames through photography, archive research and oral history interviews that will be on show at Watermans for the month of September before moving to the Geffrye Museum.

Totally Thames has teamed up with 5×15 to bring their distinctive brand of intellectual cabaret to buzzing Docklands’ arts hub Trinity Buoy Wharf for a celebration of the creative spirit of London and its river, featuring five magnetic performances. On The Docks: Stories From the River line-up includes Richard Wilson, Orlando Seale, Inua Ellams and Rachel Lichtenstein plus a fifth speaker to be announced.

Once again there are plenty of opportunities to get on and into the water, from paddle steamers to paddle boarding, cruising on a Tall Ship to wild swimming. This year’s annual exploration of the river from Source to Sea: Thames River Relay will take the form of the first ever Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Relay, bringing experienced and first time paddlers to the river throughout the month.Tidefest returns for 2016, bringing with it great activities for all the family including foreshore walks, an angling competition, boat trips, kayaking and nature reserve visits.

There is also so much to discover and learn along London’s foreshores, so why not join one of the many Archaeological Foreshore walks with leading experts on hand across London and don’t miss the ever-popular Tower Beach Open Day offering a unique opportunity to enjoy the foreshore by the Tower of London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: ‘I’m delighted to support the Totally Thames festival, throwing a spotlight on the river and its banks. The Thames is at the heart of our city’s heritage, and this festival brings its history to life through a huge variety of free activities, including interactive art, exhibitions, live performances and archaeological tours.  It is an incredible celebration, and with something for everyone, it will give all Londoners the opportunity to explore the terrific Thames.’

Adrian Evans, Festival Director, adds: ‘I am thrilled to be announcing this year’s programme for Totally Thames. There are spectacular events and thought-provoking opportunities to discover hidden spaces along, beside and underneath the river. There are untold histories, exhilarating river events and much more – with over 150 events, we’ve got something for everyone. So do join us in September.

Our major art commission on the Thames this year is Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang, one of South Korea’s most important artists and I hope the piece will draw thousands of people to the river. It is based on the memories of people, now in their 80s and 90s, who were displaced by the Korean War, forced to flee from the north to the south, and have never been able to return. The millions currently on the move from war torn areas gives particular poignancy to Ik-Joong’s remarkable floating island of dreams and drawings.

“I am pleased to see that the Totally Thames programme for 2016 includes ambitious, exciting new commissions and international artists as well as Thames Festival favourites. It is fantastic to see the range of artistic, participatory and community activities taking advantage of the whole 42 mile length of the River Thames. The Rivers of the World programme and Kids Choir have gone from strength to strength and support the Arts Council’s commitment to providing access to inspirational arts activities for children and young people across the capital.” Baroness Jo Valentine, Chief Executive, London First said “The Thames is the lifeblood of London and this festival shines a light on the role it plays for Londoners – from the new housing along the banks to the iconic bridges that span it and the huge variety of activities that take place upon it. The festival highlights the dynamic culture and creativity that help make London the best city in the world in which to live, work and play.” Key highlights of Totally Thames 2016 include:

Floating Dreams by Ik-Joong Kang

A major London installation by Ik-Joong Kang, one of South Korea’s most renowned and celebrated multimedia artists, ‘Floating Dreams’ is a compelling, large-scale installation situated in the centre of the River Thames by the Millennium Bridge in London. Constructed from 500 miniature drawings and illuminated from within, the three-story-high lantern structure acts as a memorial to the millions displaced and divided during the Korean War (1950-53), and a poignant symbol of hope for the reunification of North and South Korea. A commission for Totally Thames 2016. The project is supported by The Korea Foundation, Youngwoo & Associates and Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust.

Thursday 1 – Friday 30 September Bankside, adjacent to Millennium Bridge Free

Cyril de Commarque: Fluxland

Fluxland is a new interactive artwork, sound piece and space for debate by French artist Cyril de Commarque, coming to London in September 2016. A 25-metre long former freight boat mounted with a mirrored polyhedron sculptural form, Fluxland will navigate along the Thames on a series of journeys over the course of the month, as a travelling visual and sound installation.

Visible and audible from the banks of the river as it journeys, Fluxland will reflect the passing buildings across its angled facets, mirroring elements of the city skyline. Visitors will be able to hear the artist’s soundtrack of samples sourced from all over the world, and the boat will moor regularly in locations where viewers will be able to board and experience its immersive environment.

From 7 September

Various locations, River Thames, London 

The Singing Bridge

Fascinated by the rich and largely unearthed social history of Waterloo Bridge and its rebuilding during World War II by a predominantly female workforce, composer and artist Claudia Molitor has created a brand new work. Commissioned by Totally Thames in partnership with Somerset House,The Singing Bridge is a forty minute musical experience that features new compositions by Molitor, drum and synth duo AKDK and folk band Stick in the Wheel. The Singing Bridge weaves visitors along Waterloo Bridge and its surrounding paths to offer them time and space to consider their relationship to this bridge and its environs. This project is supported by Tideway.

Friday 9 – Sunday 25 September


Somerset House, New Wing, Strand, WC2R 1LA 

Light up the Ladies’ Bridge

The little known history of Waterloo Bridge (aka The Ladies’ Bridge) will be celebrated with two evenings featuring live performances, film and large scale photographic projections on the National Theatres’ fly tower of trail-blazing female construction workers who re-built the bridge during World War II. This project is supported by Tideway.

Friday 23 – Saturday 24 September


By Waterloo Bridge and National Theatre

Bascule Chamber Concerts curated by Iain Chambers

Following last year’s sell out concert series in the Bascule Chamber at Tower Bridge, composer Iain Chambers returns to fill the atmospheric Victorian space with a new programme. The bascule chamber houses Tower Bridge’s huge counterweights during lifting. When the bridge is at rest, this huge brick-lined chamber stands empty: a dramatic subterranean Victorian space. The chamber’s unique acoustic is showcased here by specially-commissioned new works for voice, curated by Iain Chambers and performed by the award-winning Juice Vocal Ensemble and Ben See Group. Featuring classic and contemporary music, an unmissable and atmospheric concert providing a unique way to experience a great feat of Victorian engineering

Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 September

£25 (plus booking fee)

South Bascule Chamber, Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Rd, SE1 2UP 

Mooring by Vocal Point

Ten years ago a heinous act changed Samuel’s life. For a decade, he never strays far from his beloved Thames, sleeping rough and keeping himself to himself. Until he meets Tom. Inspired by true events, Mooring confronts riverside homelessness, remorse, and how we come to terms with our past.

Mooring opens in the Brunel Museum’s remarkable Sinking Shaft. Formerly an entrance hall to the Brunel Tunnel, the cavernous chamber has been transformed into a stunning performance venue. Vocal Point presents the premiere of its first London-based performance in partnership with Totally Thames and the Brunel Museum.

Thursday 1 – Friday 9 September

£8/£6 concessions (plus booking fee)

Sinking Shaft, Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, Rotherhithe, SE16 4LF 

Life Afloat

It is estimated that over a thousand people live afloat on the Thames between Teddington Lock and the Thames Barrier. These floating villages have a rich and, until now, untold history. Based on photography, archive research and oral history interviews, this exhibition draws together the past and the present, tracking the evolution of houseboat life on one of the world’s most vibrant rivers. Photography by Katherine Fawssett and film by digital:works. Supported by National Lottery players, through a grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thursday 1 – Friday 30 September


Watermans, 40 High St, Brentford, Middlesex TW8 0DS 

On The Docks: 5×15 & Totally Thames present stories from the river

5×15 bring their distinctive brand of intellectual cabaret to buzzing Docklands’ arts hub Trinity Buoy Wharf for a celebration of the creative spirit of London and its river, featuring five magnetic performances. The line-up includes Richard Wilson, Orlando Seale, Inua Ellams and Rachel Lichtenstein.

Thursday 15 September  

£25/15 concessions (including one-way river trip) plus booking fee Trinity Buoy Wharf, 64 Orchard Place, London E14 0JY 

Londonist Quiz Afloat with Matt Brown

Following last year’s sell-out quiz, Totally Thames has once again teamed up again with Londonist to run a pub quiz with a difference. The Battersea Barge will host this floating quiz, with quizmaster Matt Brown who will be testing participants’ London knowledge and observation skills.

Tuesday 13 September

£15 /£12.50 concessions plus booking fee

Battersea Barge, Nine Elms Lane, London SW8 5BP 

Tide Line Thames

Anne Krinsky’s installation of paintings, photographs, digital prints and projections takes as its subject matter the shifting riverscape and its architectural structures – embankments, piers and river stairs – between the Thames’ high and low tide lines. The artist began the project by photographing the river and its embankments over a six-month period. Using imagery excerpted from hundreds of her photographs, as well as river-related historical materials from London archives, Krinsky has created a major body of work in several media including paintings, photographs, large-scale digital scrolls and projection.

Thursday 8 – Sunday 25 September


The Gallery, Thames-Side Studios, Harrington Way (off Warspite Road), SE18 5NR 

Kids’ Choir and Sing for Water

Enjoy an afternoon of singing at The Scoop as a colossal choir of over 450 primary school children sing as one in Thames Festival Trust’s Kids’ Choir. A mass UK-wide adult choir will then come together to Sing for Water raising money for WaterAid. Supported by M&G and WaterAid.

Sunday 11 September


The Scoop at More London 

Rivers of the World

Artist Shona Watt and professional artists in Addis Ababa, Debre Zayit & Bahir Dar in Ethiopia, Chittagong in Bangladesh, Colombo in Sri Lanka, Hanoi in Vietnam, Kafua in Zambia, Manila in Philippines, London, Thurrock and Southend in the UK produce extraordinary works of art with young people inspired by their local river.

The exhibitions in City Hall and on the Riverside Walkway by the National Theatre, Tate Modern and More London are in place throughout September. A Thames Festival Trust commission in partnership with British Council. Thursday 1 – Friday 30 September Free City Hall and along the Thames pathway by National Theatre, Tate Modern and More London

On the river…

Source to Sea: Thames River Relay

Now in its fourth year, the Source to Sea River Relay will take place throughout September 2016. The journey will start with the bottle being filled with fresh Thames water at the source of the river in a field near Kemble in Gloucestershire. It will then be relayed down river by different groups travelling on Stand Up Paddle Boards. As the bottle changes hands and weaves its way towards London different events will take place along the way, including a mass paddle and SUP marathon, education on water conservation, river clean ups, SUP Yoga and SUP taster sessions.

1 – 25 September


Various points along the Thames 

TideFest 2016

TideFest is an annual river Thames event taking place in Chiswick, and other locations from Richmond to Barnes celebrating the recreational importance of the Thames Tideway. There will be great activities for all the family including foreshore walks, angling competition, boat trips, paddleboarding, river dipping, kayaking, nature reserve visits, angling games, displays, live fish tanks, local artists and generous discounts off admissions to the London Museum of Water and Steam.

Saturday 11 September


Strand on the Green, Chiswick, W4 3RE

Sail Royal Greenwich: Tall Ships

For four days this September around 50 Tall Ships will be back in London for your viewing and cruising pleasure. Visitors can admire the ships cruising majestically along the river and be wowed by fireworks every evening after dark.

Thursday 15 – Sunday 18 September Cruise tickets from £39.90 

Thames River Swim A rare opportunity to get wet and wild in the Thames with an invigorating group swim. This is not a race or competition but an unforgettable and enigmatic event for experienced swimmers.

Wednesday 7 September

Swim registration £6 Black Lion Pub, Hammersmith

The Great River Race

London’s spectacular River Marathon for traditional boats up the Thames from Millwall to Ham. Join the 300 crews from all over the globe from those looking for fun, fancy dress and charity stunts, to serious sports men and women who want to win the much coveted UK Traditional Boat Championship. A great fun day out for competitors and spectators alike.

Saturday 3 September

From Millwall Slipway, Westferry Road E14 3QS to Ham House, Ham, Richmond TW10 7RS

Thames Sailing Barge Parade

For the first time in history a parade of Thames Sailing Barges not seen in one place since the Industrial Revolution will gather in West India Docks as a pop-up museum with the opportunity to get aboard. Visitors can also enjoy activities for all ages in this unmissable celebratory event supported by the Shipowners Club.

Saturday 17 September Free West India Docks, Lawn House Close, E14 9YQ

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

Come aboard historic and classic boats as the Classic Boat Festival returns to St Katharine Docks. Marble Quay will be filled with family entertainment, live music and a selection of British street food.

Saturday 10 – Sunday 11 September

Free St Katharine Docks, St Katharine Way, London E1W 1LA

Along the foreshore…

Foreshore Walks

Join one of our archaeological walks and see the remains of Tudor jetties, a Bronze Age bridge, an Iron Age fish trap and prehistoric landscapes, as well as mesolithic trees and more.

Saturday 3 – Saturday 24 September

Free – £9 plus booking fee

Firing on the Foreshore

Watch pottery being produced as it was thousands of years ago, in open fires on the Thames, explore the historic foreshore, see and handle objects dating from the end of the last Ice Age. Join leading archaeologists Dr Fiona Haughey and Mike Webber and have your questions ready for them!

Saturday 10 September


Thames foreshore, Bankside, SE1, adjacent to Shakespeare’s Globe

Tower Beach Open Day  

The ever popular archaeology event returns, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy the Thames foreshore by the Tower of London. Join Thames21 and Thames Discovery to uncover the history behind the many ancient objects to be found on the foreshore.

Sunday 18 September


Access via Queens Staircase, The Tower of London, London EC3N 4AB 

Thames River Watch Big Count: Litter Count & Clean-ups

Join Thames21 to tidy up one of London’s biggest litter hotspots. As well as cleaning the site, we will be leading a count to uncover where all the litter is coming from. This event is part of our Thames River Watch Big Count.

Saturday 10 & Sunday 18 September

Free Fulham and Isle Of Dogs

Dine by the River

Totally Thames has teamed up with some of London’s best riverside restaurants to offer opportunities to Dine by the River for less. For the whole month of September Dine by the River restaurants are offering special set menus to diners. Riverside restaurant partners include Sea Containers at Mondrian, Kaspars at The Savoy, Skylon, Cantina del Ponte, Butler’s Wharf Chophouse, The Narrow, The Battersea Quarter, The Gun and The Perkin Reveller. Also, to celebrate the start of Totally Thames 2016, Tom Aikens will be hosting an exclusive four-course dinner at Tom’s Kitchen St Katharine Docks.

Various locations

1-30 September

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