Thames Festival Trust (TFT) has announced Totally Thames 2015, which brings London’s river to life throughout the month of September with an exciting season of arts, cultural and river events.

Following the success of 2014’s festival, which drew 2.7 million people to 134 events, this year’s Totally Thames will celebrate the Thames and the many different ways London’s residents and visitors can connect with the river. 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. Beside the river, there’s mudlarking on the foreshore and an open day at Tower Beach. Chances to get active include the 20k Thames Bridges Trek and the fishing, kayaking and boat trips at Tidefest, to the annual Source to Sea River Relay. The festival balances these with the more sedate pleasures of concerts in riverside churches, special events at Thameside attractions, a late night tryst at Chelsea Physic Garden, special offers at riverside restaurants, and a night of poetry celebrating wild swimming.

The programme includes live art in various forms along the entire 42-mile stretch through the capital. As well as theatre performances, kids’ choirs and a unique contemporary opera, The Lighthouse, accessed by boat at Trinity Buoy Wharf, Totally Thames also announces the premiere Bascule Chamber Concert inside Tower Bridge. The first ever public event to take place in this fascinating space, composer Iain Chambers will transform this global landmark into a giant musical instrument based on sound recordings taken inside the chamber.

Renowned sculptor of underwater art Jason deCaires Taylor will have his first ever London commission, The Rising Tide, a series of four equine sculptures installed on the foreshore at Nine Elms on the South Bank. These remarkable sculptures will be visible at low tide and are in situ throughout September.

Totally Thames Festival Director Adrian Evans comments “With 200 events to provoke interest, excitement and involvement with the Thames, its foreshore and the many assets and attractions that grace its waterfront, in September – London’s ‘river month’ – the Thames is the most vibrant river in the world!”

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, adds, “September has become our ‘river month’ thanks to Totally Thames, which has almost 200 events this year, from tall ships to archaeological explorations on the river’s foreshore and special exhibitions to contemporary music concerts within the inner workings of Tower Bridge. Totally Thames is now the biggest river festival in the world, so take the plunge with us in 2015 – join in!”

Travel to Totally Thames events by boat. Major boat operators are offering 2-for-1 on river travel throughout September.

Totally Thames events to look forward to this year include:

River Events

The Clipper 2015-16 Round the World Race Start

Sunday 30 August 2015: Tower Bridge will be raised to bid farewell to the 12 Clipper 70 race yachts as they embark on their 40,000 mile adventure.

ARC Gloria

3 – 6 September 2015: On Sunday 6 September the magnificent ARC Gloria – a three-masted barque, sail training ship and the official flagship of the Colombian Navy – will enter the Upper Pool near Tower Bridge, and her sailors will line the masts in a traditional salute.

Sail Royal Greenwich 2015

27 – 31 August, Woolwich Arsenal Riverside: The Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival returns to the Thames this August Bank Holiday as 12 Tall Ships drop anchor at Woolwich Arsenal Riverside. Visitors can admire the ships cruising majestically along the river, be wowed by fireworks every evening after dark, and wave off the fleet from Greenwich on Monday 31 August during the afternoon’s elegant Parade of Sail.

The Great River Race

12 September 2015 Millwall to Richmond: Over 300 man powered vessels take part in this colourful river marathon, which starts in Millwall on the Isle of Dogs and finishes by Ham House in Richmond. Amongst the boats racing are 12 Dutch sloops manned by active and retired Dutch Marines that have rowed 350km across the English Channel from Rotterdam to celebrate the 350th anniversary of the Dutch Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. A formal head-to-head challenge from Dutch Marines has been accepted by the Royal Navy which has confirmed that at least one of its own fleet will be crewed by Royal Marines, so watch this space for an exciting Race!

Live Art

The Rising Tide by Jason deCaires Taylor

1-30 September 2015: Foreshore at Vauxhall. Enigmatic life-size sculptures of two men, two children and four horses will be revealed and concealed by the tide on the foreshore at Vauxhall. Taylor has a global reputation for his underwater sculptures in coral reef sites. The sculptures are visible at low tide and are in situ throughout September.

The Rising Tide is a commission for Totally Thames 2015. The project is supported by the Nine Elms Vauxhall Partnership, Vauxhall One and LuminarPrime8.

Japan Sound Portrait

Throughout September. BBC Radio 3 Late Junction presenter and DJ Nick Luscombe will present a series of field recordings of Tokyo’s river overlaid with readings of haiku by Basho.

Bascule Chamber Concert

26 & 27 September 2015, six performances per day: A new piece of site-specific music by composer Iain Chambers for brass and sound system performed to a small audience who are guided through the interior of Tower Bridge to the extraordinary bascule chamber. This is an once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience the unique acoustics beneath the most famous bridge in the world. ¦@towerbridge


A Mile in My Shoes – presented by The Empathy Museum

Every weekend throughout September, Riverside Gardens, Vauxhall

A unique audio portrait of the riverside in Wandsworth, created with local residents and members of the community and presented as an interactive shoe-shop. Visitors will have the opportunity to literally walk in someone else’s shoes, whilst being immersed in a narrative of their life. Co-commissioned by Thames Festival Trust, A Mile in My Shoes is presented by The Empathy Museum and developed by artist Clare Patey and producer Kitty Ross with cultural thinker Roman Krznaric and In the Dark Radio.

Urban Tales #2: The Lighthouse

Trinity Buoy Wharf: The premiere is a unique contemporary opera experience in Trinity Buoy Wharf, London’s only lighthouse. This one-off performance of Folie a Deux by Mahogany Opera is presented by Unlimited.

Rain Interactive by Luzinterruptus

18-20 September, Waterman’s Arts Centre: This stunning rain drop canopy, built over three days by volunteers working alongside the artists, is part of a weekend of river-themed events by the Thames, featuring emerging artists, an underwater maze, graffiti and cabaret.

The River’s Voice: the Poetry of Wild Swimming

3 September, Linden House: Poet in the City, in partnership with the Outdoor Swimming Society, present the poetry of wilderness, water and wild swimming in Linden House, the atmospheric home to the Sons of the Thames Rowing Club.

Music by the River

A September-long season of music in fabulous riverside venues:

Kids Choir and Sing for Water

1pm – 3pm 13 September, The Scoop at More London: Enjoy an afternoon of singing at The Scoop on Sunday 13 September as a colossal choir of over 450 primary school children sing as one in Thames Festival Trust’s Kids’ Choir. A mass UK-wide choir will then come together to Sing for Water raising money for WaterAid.

A Prelude to Menuhin’s Centenary

7pm 22 September, Temple Church: This concert will be a truly unique evening presenting programme spanning Bach’s vibrant Concerto for Two Violins to Poulenc’s remarkable Concerto for Organ, Timpani and Strings, featuring Temple Church’s wonderfully restored organ, held in support of the Menuhin Competition London 2016 and a fitting prelude to next year’s Menuhin centenary.

Southwark Cathedral will host a number of concerts for Totally Thames including Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir singing a Thames-inspired repertoire (Tuesday 1 September), The Sacred River by Lloyd Coleman specially commissioned for Totally Thames (Friday 11 September), chamber music celebrating water and spirituality from Orpheus Principals (Tuesday 15 September) and Sacred Rivers – Early Music from the New World (Saturday 19 September) Totally Thames Evensong is at the Chapel of St Peter & St Paul, Old Royal Naval College (Monday 28 September).

Family Fun

The Riverside Festival

12pm – 7pm Saturday 5 & Sunday 6 September, Potters Fields Park: A weekend of free riverside family fun on the gorgeous green of Potters Fields Park with some of the best new troubadour and folk sounds on the Boatshed Stage; Soapbox Science bringing science straight from the lab onto the streets; the animals of Vauxhall City Farm; entertainment from the Unicorn Theatre; the one and only Spurting Man by Avanti Display and Santander will be there to help visitors unlock the Thames on two wheels with their Santander Cycles’ ‘Summer of Cycling’.

On Sunday 6 September, join the crowds celebrating Colombia Day with stalls selling delicious traditional dishes, Tall Ship themed workshops for children, Colombian music and dance and give a rousing cheer for the magnificent ARC Gloria.

The Kingston Riverside Bash

12-13, 19 September: Many brilliant activities in Kingston for families include helping to create a River of Dreams sculpture under the arches of Kingston Bridge, Creatures of the Thames workshops for children and live music from emerging talent at Riverside Edge (every Tuesday & Saturday in September). John Lewis also celebrates 25 years with stalls, live music and delicious food tastings.

St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival

12-13 September: A celebration of classic boats from all over the country with live music from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra Academy, the Sea Shanty Singers, the Dutch Marine Rowing Band and others.


20 September, Strand on the Green: A family day on the river and foreshore with fishing, paddle boarding, kayaking, fish surveys, river walks, boat trips, music and much more.

The Big Thames Tidy with Thames21

1 September, Greenwich Peninsula: River environment charity Thames21 encourages like-minded volunteers to don wellies and rubber gloves and join in the biggest clean-up of the Thames foreshore ever attempted.


Rivers of the World

Throughout September, South Bank and City Hall: Artist Shona Watt and groups of artists in Chittagong (Bangladesh), Colombo (Sri Lanka), London (UK), Manila (Philippines) and Taipei (Taiwan) produced 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 Tower Bridge are in place throughout September.(A TFT commission in partnership with British Council.)

Source to Sea River Relay

Throughout September: A bottle of water filled at the source of the River Thames in the Gloucestershire hills will travel 215 miles along the river, through London and finally out to sea. It will be hosted by a number of iconic destinations through London, such as Hampton Court Palace, the Tate Modern and the Tower of London, before making its way to its permanent home in Southend.

A Cruise in the Company of… and Thames Talks and Walks

Throughout September: A series of river cruises hosted by various Thames experts, such as art historian and BBC personality Dan Cruikshank, author Christopher Winn, curator of the Brunel Museum Robert Hulse. Talks include a celebration of Nelsons’ Trafalgar, an insight into the Eyots and Aits of the Thames and a history of swimming in the Thames, while the accompanying walks programme celebrates the vibrant history and ecology of London’s river.


Image: “The Mayor’s Thames Festival” Photographer: Eva Piscova

All information is correct at time of publication.