LivingTravelWhere to watch the great London river race

Where to watch the great London river race

The Great River Race is an annual rowing race on London’s River Thames, sometimes known as the London River Marathon. The course is strenuous in length of 21.6 miles and runs upriver from the Docklands area in the east to Ham in Richmond in the west. More than 300 traditional rowboats and rowboats participate in the event, including Chinese dragon boats, Hawaiian war canoes and Viking boats.

The event attracts competitors from all over the world. Many compete to win, but there are many more who participate for fun or to raise money for charity.

The history of the event

The first race took place in 1988 when 72 participants jumped into the water in 20 boats representing six different countries. Competitors included young sea cadets, rowing veterans, and boating enthusiasts. The event has now quadrupled in size and attracted a wide variety of craft including a replica of Bronze Age Greek cuisine and the world’s oldest racing rowboat dating back to the 19th century. The international event has attracted some stars along the way, including Sting and Jerry Hall, and is the most prestigious event of its kind in Europe.


Race route

Comienzo: Docklands Sailing Center , Millwall Riverside, Westferry Road, London Docklands
Final: Ham House , Richmond

When it happens

This annual event takes place in September near the Mayor’s Thames Festival. The start time is usually around 10 am

Where to look

Tower Bridge is one of the most popular spectator spots, so watching from London Bridge, the next bridge along the River Thames, is recommended.

Other popular bridges include:

  • Richmond bridge
  • Hammersmith Bridge
  • Wandsworth Bridge
  • Battersea bridge
  • Westminster bridge

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