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Top 5: Fun Things On The River

Have a paddle down The Thames with our Top 5 things to do!

‘Take me to the river’ sang Al Green. Here at London Calling, we like Al’s style and think he’s probably on to something. In London you can dance, drink, eat (and heck, even watch a Morris dancing festival) on the city’s many rivers and canals. And with some of the most beautiful views in the capital experienced from the river, life really is better when it’s spent floating. Here’s our guide to the city’s best waterside fun.

1. Canal Carniville

It’s canal-aval time in London as rivers up and down the city hosts festivities! Canalway Cavalcade Festival in Little Venice is a traditional old knees up, full of ale bars and Morris dancing. You can compare beautiful boats, stroll along the river and pick up some produce from the floating stalls. If that’s sounding a little too sedate for your tastes why not put on your own canal party? Plenty of companies offer boat hire. We like the Electric Barge which takes all its profits and pumps them back into ‘The Floating Classroom’, which does exactly what its name suggests, as it provides learning experiences for children on waterways. Pretty good eh? So as you get tipsy on a boat you’ll be helping educate the next generation!

Canalway Cavalcade takes place on May bank holiday in Little Venice.

2. Word on the Water

Bookshops don’t come much better than this. Word on the Water hosts poetry slams, book readings and live music on its roof all while floating on top of the water. But this London gem nearly didn’t survive after copious threats of fines from the local canal and river trust threatened to bring about its closure. Luckily, a campaign from local residents and famous writers allowed the boat to keep its mooring and to continue its proud work of selling books to the people of Paddington! A wood burner and pet dog keep the place cosy, and in winter, the owner serves up mulled wine for customers to keep the chill away.

3. Opera at The Scoop

The Scoop is a 1,000 person sunken amphitheatre set slap bang among some of London’s most iconic landmarks including Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and City Hall. As the Thames floats by, you can watch anything from Opera to a screening of Indiana Jones and best of all, all events are absolutely free. In fact, for somewhere set so grand, there’s a real community feel about the space. Over the next two months it will be hosting book sales, Sikh New Year Festivities and a monthly cycle surgery. Take your pick and make the most of this picturesque Thames venue!

4. Kayaking by night

While normal folk might still be racking up the courage to head off in a canoe down the Thames, Kayaking London have been taking the concept one step further still by organising night tours. They promise that their Big Ben by Night expedition offers a look at the Thames and surrounding buildings at their most gothic and beautiful. No experience is necessary and you’ll be in safe hands. We say; you’ll get great views and feel tough as nails, like a kind of water bound James Bond.

5. Drink on a floating pub

Eat, drink, watch gigs and be merry all aboard the Tamesis Dock. This converted 30’s Dutch barge sits colourfully in between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridge. Nearly all of the nights this floating pub puts on are free and you can get a hearty meal for well under a tenner, all this while you soak in the marvellous views of the Houses of Parliament and London Eye, not bad!