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Ship-of-Tolerance

Highlights of the Totally Thames festival 2019

By Anthony Irving  //  Fri 30th August 2019
Wherever you live in London, the River Thames is a force of nature that has shaped the city and its people for centuries. Totally Thames festival celebrates the river and its iconic presence with events as diverse as an exploration of mudlarking and a paddle board regatta.
September brings the Totally Thames 2019 festival to riverside locations across London. This annual celebration of the River Thames, its history and its impact on the city today, includes a month-long programme of creative events designed to inspire and enthral. Organised by the Thames Festival Trust, Totally Thames runs from 1 to 30 September 2019 – and it's completely free.

Wherever you live in London, the River Thames is a force of nature that has shaped the city and its people for centuries. Totally Thames festival celebrates the river and its iconic presence with events as diverse as an exploration of mudlarking and a paddle board regatta. There'll be inventive public art, pop up exhibitions, informative walks and archaeological investigations, not to mention boat races and parties.

Totally Thames launched in 2014, in place of the hugely successful two-day Thames Festival, which ran from 1997 to 2013 at the South Bank and Bankside. The new, expanded month-long programme covers the 42-mile stretch of the Thames, collaborating with artists, local communities, river organisations and businesses.

Read on for a few 2019 highlights:


The Ship of Tolerance at the Millennium Bridge

Don’t miss the festival’s big installation. This magnificent illuminated sailboat can be seen by the Millennium Bridge. The ship was created by artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, both well-known for their landmark projects. Thousands of young people from across capital designed the silk flags which make up its sails, in response to the theme of tolerance. You can see the ship beside Tate Modern from 4 September until 6 October.

Regatta London

Take to the Thames by paddle board on Sunday 29 September for this new, mass-participation event. With the Thames Barrier closed for the day, and non-participating boats not allowed, the waters will be calm, allowing you to paddle the river, taking in amazing views. You can also take part by canoe, kayak or rowing boat.

As well as being a unique day out, the regatta will raise thousands for good causes. It will also champion the benefits the river brings to the capital and call for more care and attention for this amazing waterway.

Two iconic routes are available, based on the level of experience - the London Crossing (from Hammersmith to Greenwich), and the Big Ben Challenge (Putney to Big Ben and back).

Foragers of the foreshore

Find out all about the mudlarkers; the people who’ve foraged for hidden treasure along the banks of the Thames from Victorian times to the present day. This exhibition will feature portraits of mudlarkers by photographer, Hannah Smiles, and a chance to meet Thames Mudlarker in Residence, Nicola White. Additional works by other artists use mudlark finds in unusual ways. There will also be a programme of guided mudlarking walks and talks. It all takes place from 24 to 29 September on Barge House Street, SE1, near Bankside Pier.

The Barking Stink

Discover the industrial heritage of east London through its stinks and stenches. From the mid 19th century, it was common practice to locate foul-smelling industries downwind of the city, so from fertiliser factories to fisheries, manure to sewers, the people of Barking got used to smelling it all. The Barking Stink is a heritage project, which invites visitors to explore 200 years of stories via the sense of smell. You can have a sniff outside the National Theatre until 5 October.

For full details of Totally Thames visit the festival website.

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