Well, this weekend sees the last weekend before our final week in London…..and whilst I know we’ll be packing and planning and organising, we still want to make the most of being in central London so we’re sure to pop out for some adventuring. As usual, there’s lots to tempt us…..and what’s more, I reckon you could do the lot in one day with a good pair of walking shoes!…..
Friday at 6pm , Saturday at 1pm and 6pm , and Sunday at 1pm and 6pm
Southbank Centre (Riverside Terrace, in front of Royal Festival Hall, and Queen Elizabeth Hall)
I’ve been wanting to see the remarkable and incomparable Strange Fruit for years and years, and this weekend they are performing alongside Graeae to present The Garden at the Southbank Centre. A “gravity-defying outdoor theatre in three stories of love, consequence and hope,” you’ll find the story tellers swaying through the air on four-metre-high poles, all as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad programme.
Bernie Spain Gardens, next to the OXO Tower
From there, walk East along the Southbank of the Thames, and just a little way to The OXO Tower and the adjacent Bernie Square Gardens. There you’ll find special performances to mark the Olympics handover from London to Rio. Performers and artists from Rio and the UK have teamed up to create the largest Rio-style float ever seen in the UK. Expect flamboyantly costumed dancers, DJs, and plenty of Samba!
Saturday and Sunday
More London, Tower Bridge
Next, keep walking down the Southbank and past London Bridge to Tower Bridge and More London (you can grab a bite at Borough Market on the way!). This weekend, the buzzing site will include a river and environmental zone with stalls and attractions from charities and businesses involved with the river’s ecology, wildlife, history and the industries that the Thames supports. There will be plenty going on, with swash-buckling sailors, pond dipping, willow sculpting and kayaking! It sounds perfect for kids (and adventurers like me)!
Saturday and Sunday
St Katherine Docks, Tower Hill,
After that, just walk over Tower Bridge and head down the East steps on the North side, and into St Katherine Docks…..and so to discover a replica Phoenician sailing ship, along with a collection of beautiful classic and historic boats in the Docks’ Central Marina. In addition, you’ll find the London Area Sea Cadets showing their boats and knot tying skills, and there’s even a free river taxi between Festival Pier and St Katharine’s Pier, to get you back to where you started or if you don’t fancy the walk there. Sailings are on the hour from Festival Pier and half past the hour from St Katharine’s Pier. The first taxi is at 10am and the last is at 6pm.
On the BBC, at Cineworld and Odeon cinemas, and ‘Big Screens’ all over the UK
I know that after that I’ll be ready for a long sit down, so why not settle in front of the telly to wave your union jack through the Last Night of The Proms?! It’s an amazing programme as always….I’m particularly looking forward to Puccini’s E lucevan le stelle from Tosca, Dvořák’s Carnival Overture, You’ll Never Walk Alone from Carousel, and of course the old faithfuls Pomp and Circumstance and Jerusalem. Whilst die-hard Prommers will be queuing on the South Steps for the limited number of standing tickets still available on the Last Night itself (just £5.00!), the BBC will be covering the evening so you can watch from the comfort of your home…..but if you’re wanting to soak up the atmosphere, you can head to selected Cineworlds and Odeons to watch in 3D, or find your nearest ‘BigScreens’ venue (including Bristol, Cardiff, Derby, Dover, Edinburgh, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Salford and Swindon) where you’ll be able to watch out in the open.
Carnival from 7:15pm to 10pm, along Upper Ground, Blackfriars Bridge & Victoria Embankment
Fireworks from 10:30pm to 10:45pm between Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges
And because I love a big finale…….the Mayor is throwing quite the party to wave me off from London. And there are few things I love more than a carnival and fireworks…..
To help bring the Thames Festival to a close, an incredible parade of illuminated dancers, drummers and lantern carriers will parade along Upper Ground, Blackfriars Bridge and Victoria Embankment. Expect (amongst many, many others)…. a Victorian travelling circus extravaganza of exotic birds and unusual animals….. ArtStart’s celebration of Dickensian London….. The Phoenix Catchers…. Walking With Giants….. and Mandinga Arts’ Chimera project featuring costumes and puppets, “weaving together human and animal, flora and fauna, fantasy and reality.”
The festival will end, as tradition dictates, with over a ton of fireworks exploding form a barge on the river itself. We watched comfortably last year from London Bridge and got a great view, although if you want to be closer do plan ahead and go early for a spot on Blackfriars or Waterloo Bridges.