Totally Thames 2017

Annual Celebration of the River Thames

1-30 September 2017

Future Dust by Maria Arceo for Totally Thames 2017

Future Dust by Maria Arceo for Totally Thames 2017

Totally Thames is one of my favourite festivals in London. After the leisurely August the Festival heralds the start of a busy September with Festivals and Fairs throughout the month.

The River Thames travels over 210 miles, starting as a small trickle in the Cotswolds, right into the centre of London and out into the North Sea. And yet, many Londoners have never engaged with the river. Through Totally Thames’ annual season of over 150 events on, beneath and beside the River Thames, Londoners can take part in an exciting programme of arts, cultural, archaeological and active river events including concerts, film screenings, exhibitions, installations, performances, walks, a boat party and even a wild swim!

This year’s programme is curated around the timely issue of plastic pollution in our rivers and oceans, Handel’s 300th Anniversary of Water Music, and stories of the river. Here you find just a selection of what is available. You can see the full programme here

Future Dust  by Maria Arceo

Maria Jose Arceo, Future Dust, Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Ed Stone

Plastic Pollution, River litter This timely, global environmental issue affects the Thames, waterways and oceans. The World Economic Forum has predicted there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by weight by 2050.

This is highlighted in Future Dust, an installation by artist Maria Arceo.  for the last year, Maria has been collecting plastic from over 40 beaches along the tidal Thames down to the Estuary. By beachcombing, handpicking, identifying, and colour-coding found plastic debris, she will create a large-scale artwork that responds to the sheer scale of plastic litter that is being deposited into the Thames. The installation will tour to different riverside locations across London and will be illuminated at dusk by Dutch interactive light artist Tim Scheffer.

Friday 1 – Saturday 30 September 2017


  • Fri 1 Sep, 11am – 11pm
    Potters Fields Park, SE1 2AA
  • Sun 3 – Wed 6 Sep, 11am – 11pm
    Oxo Tower Courtyard, Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH
  • Fri 8 – Wed 13 Sep, 11am – 11pm
    St. Katharine Docks, St. Katharine Marina, 50 St. Katharine’s Way, E1W 1LA
  • Fri 15 – Wed 20 Sep, 11am – 11pm
    Watermans, 40 High St, Brentford, TW8 0DS
  • Fri 22 – Sat 30 Sep, 11am – 11pm
    Canary Wharf, adjacent to Canary Wharf Pier, E14 8RR
Future Dust by maria Jose Arceo, Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Ed Stone

Future Dust by maria Jose Arceo, Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Ed Stone

The Plastic Ocean Festival
The Festival runs over the month with screenings of film A Plastic Ocean, which David Attenborough has described as one of the most important films of our time, environmental talks, paddle boarding and river clean-ups to encourage direct action.

Saturday 30 September, 5.30pm – 7.30pm
Old Sorting Office (OSO) Arts Centre at Barnes Green, 49 Station Road SW13 OLF

A River Runs Through It
An exhibition of original art inspired by London and its ever-changing landscape.

The collection will showcase original work created by Urban Soup – a collective of very different artists from London’s community of self-funded studios,  LoveJordan, Sarah Fosse, Tom Cox, Munleen Sibia and Michael Wallner.

The exhibition features a collection of art that celebrates this magical metropolis through the shapes, colours and objects that define its character and personality.

Wednesday 6 – Sunday 10 September 2017, 11am – 8pm

gallery@oxo, Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH

Further info:

Riverside Ramble
Discover more about Erith’s “liquid history” and the people who made that history, in a guided heritage walk along the town’s riverfront.

Erith lies on the banks of the River Thames and is one of Bexley’s most ancient and historic towns. The Thames has been described as London’s ‘Liquid History’ and the history of Erith is inextricably bound up with the river. Indeed, there was once a royal dockyard just to the north-west of the present town centre…

Later, Erith enjoyed a short period as a riverside resort during the middle of the 19th century. Its pier and accompanying hotel catered for the many day-trippers who visited the town on Thames pleasure boats or via the railway, which arrived in 1849.

Industrialisation and engineering then came to define Erith and its riverfront, until in more recent times new developments on the site of the old deep wharf has significantly improved what was formerly the main industrial area and given the town a new riverfront, complete with a pier – the longest in London!

Wednesday 6 September, 11.30am -1pm
Erith Pier, London DA8 2AH
Tickets: £3.90

Gestalt Arts, Adrift. Andreas Grieger for Totally Thames 2017

Gestalt Arts, Adrift. Andreas Grieger for Totally Thames 2017

Tidemarks from the Pool
The Pool of London and the docks brought a heaving, exotic life to the East End. Trade gave rise to industry and employment. A diversity of seamen of all nations introduced curious cargoes and told stories of faraway places with strange-sounding names. Though that life has long since ceased, there is much to see which bears witness to those days of adventure and danger.

The Thames was the cause of London’s growth, but also the pathway that brought Blitz bombers to their dockland targets. The people who sought to help stranded seamen contrast with ruthless planners who destroyed London’s old Scandinavian quarter. On this tour we explore both the infrastructure of maritime trade and the experiences of the merchant seaman ashore.

Wednesday 6 September and Tuesday 12 September 2017, 2.30pm
Tower Gateway DLR Station, 67 Minories, EC3N 1LA
Tickets: £12, £9 Concs

Boat Poets
Boat Poets places four young emerging spoken word artists on tidal residencies. Artists will explore life on the river through time spent in the wheel houses of river boats, barges and tugs central to industry on the Thames. The Boat Poets will perform at the National Poetry Library and the Tongue Fu Boat Party and will be popping up on MBNA Thames Clippers for National Poetry Day.

Wednesday 6th September 2017
National Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall, Level 5, SE1 8XX
Free (Advance booking essential)
Further info:

Boat Poets, Totally Thames 2017.

Boat Poets, Totally Thames 2017.

The Pier Commission: Julia Snowdin’s Changing Sails
he Pier Commission is artist Julia Snowdin’s intriguing response to the open call for proposals to transform the pier in Erith into a piece of public art for the duration of the Totally Thames Festival.  The piece will celebrate the ever-changing nature and dynamic history of the pier through the installation of decorated sails that will animate the space with the wind and light of the Thames.

Snowdin’s artwork comprises a series of storytelling ship’s sails, designed and produced in partnership with Erith residents. The sails hang around the pier creating outdoor rooms in which visitors can sit, relax, draw, play and be. The hole-punched designs allow light to travel through the fabric, creating a patterned and shimmering effect on the pier; at night, the sails are lit with different hues enticing people to the river.

Thursday 7 – Sunday 24 September 2017
Erith Pier, Wharfside Close, Erith DA8
Further info:

Working River, Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Hydar Dewachi

Working River, Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Hydar Dewachi

The Five Cowries Flotilla
An outdoor riverside installation of six beautiful wooden traditional fishing boats from Lagos.

British muralist and artist Polly Alakija has worked in creative community and educational settings throughout her career. For The Five Cowries Flotilla, she has been working in schools across Lagos as part of the Rivers of the World programme. Working in six schools and over 150 children from across Lagos the piece explores and expresses the multitude of lives in Lagos.

The Five Cowries Flotilla is part of the celebrations marking 50 years of Lagos’ formation as a State in association with the British Council and supported by Lagos State Government.

Friday 8 September – Tuesday 26 September 2017
Queen’s Walk by Tate Modern, SE1 9TG

Firing on the Foreshore
Watch pottery being produced as it was thousands of years ago, in open fires beside the Thames, enjoy archaeological strolls along the foreshore, and learn about the fish now found in the river.

Join leading archaeologist Dr Fiona Haughey, artist Edith Slee, Thames21 and the Institute of Fisheries Management for a chance to find out more and explore the Thames foreshore.

Activities on the day for all to enjoy include:

  • Firing of pots
    11am to 2pm
  • Archaeological walks along the foreshore
    11am & midday
  • Displays & Collections
    11am – 5pm   
    Artefacts from the river foreshore for you to handle
    Seine Netting showing what currently lives in the Thames and environmental information about the river that may surprise you.

To create pottery that will be fired on the day, join Dr. Fiona Haughey and Edith Slee on Sunday 13th August for a free pottery workshop on the river steps by the Globe.

Saturday 9 September, 11am – 5pm
Queen’s Walk (in front of Shakespeare’s Globe), Queen’s Walk, Bankside, SE1 9DT

Further info:

Great River Race

Great River Race, Thames Festival 2017

Great River Race, Thames Festival 2017

Come and cheer over 300 crews from all over the world taking part in the Great River Race, London’s River Marathon.

This spectacular 21.6 mile race for traditional boats up the River Thames from Millwall to Ham attracts crews from all over the globe. The race attracts every level of competitor from those who enjoy fun, fancy dress and charity stunts, to serious sportsmen and women who like to win and become the UK Traditional Boat Champions in the process. A great fun day out for competitors and spectators alike.

Saturday 9 September, 11.30am – 7pm.
Starts Millwall Slipway, Westferry Road, E14 3QS
Further info:

Classic Boat Festival, for Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Nigel Pepper

Classic Boat Festival, for Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Nigel Pepper

Classic Boat Festival
Join the 9th annual Classic Boat Festival for your chance to climb on board over 40 vintage sailing and motor yachts not usually open to the public!

As well as discovering these wonderful boats and yachts, there will be a number of family activities for everyone to enjoy and get involved in. There will be live music from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, nautical face painting for the kids (and adults alike) and plenty of scrummy street food courtesy of our friends at Epicurean Events. The brilliant team at Moo Canoes will also be offering free drop-in canoe trials on the water.

Friday 8 September – Sunday 10 September 2017, Midday – 6pm.
St Katherine Docks, 50 St Katharine’s Way, E1 1LA
Further info:

Bascule Chamber Concerts – 300th Anniversary of Handel’s Water Music

Bascule Chamber Concerts Ensemble, for Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Steve Stills

Bascule Chamber Concerts Ensemble, for Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Steve Stills

Composer Iain Chambers returns with his third edition of the Bascule Chamber Concerts (22nd – 24th September) inside the cavernous bascule chamber of Tower Bridge. The programme of new works includes a response to the 300th anniversary of Water Music from Langham Research Centre that uses live recordings of the bridge’s river and road sounds. The intimate concerts will also feature performances from clarinettist Kate Romano, spoken work artist Kayo Chingonyi plus award-winning Franco-Cameroonian singer Coco Mbassi will perform a new work imagining the conversations happening onboard boats carrying immigrants.

Friday 22 September – Sunday 24 September
Various times
South Bascule Chamber, Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, SE1 2UP
Further information

Working River: London’s Boatyards

Working River for Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Hydar Dewachi.

Working River for Totally Thames 2017. Photo: Hydar Dewachi.

Working River will bring the living history of the boatyards on the Tidal Thames alive through oral history, film and photography in a series of exhibitions.

Friday 1 September – Sunday 1 October 2017, 12pm-6pm (Wed-Fri), 11am 6pm (Sat/Sun)
Wherry Boathouse, Richmond Riverside, London TW9 1EH

Leave a Reply