diamond geezer

 Monday, September 01, 2014

Yes, it's September already. Then next month the clocks go back, then it's Fireworks Night and before you know where you are Christmas will be rolling round again. Never fear, London always puts on a last flurry of events and activities and happenings before the nights draw in, and we're all invited. Here's my weekend by weekend guide to free September delights.

All month
» Totally Thames (Sep 1-30): There was a time, not so long ago, when the Mayor's Thames Festival filled the South Bank and lit up the sky for one weekend in September. No more. Now we get a whole month of events, many of them ticketed, kicking off on Tuesday evening with the arrival of a giant floating thing. If you fancy a Lost Rivers walk or a boat trip, prepare to stump up, but there are also plenty of splendid freebies if you explore the programme carefully.

Weekend 1: September 6/7
» Royal Greenwich Tall Ships Festival (Fri-Tue): Fresh from Falmouth, over 50 tall ships will be sailing up the Thames to float off Greenwich and Woolwich. An impressive number of events are planned, including various parades of ships, plus fireworks on the Friday and Saturday. A rare event, and it's going to be big.
» The Thames SENSEation (Sat, Sun, noon-7pm): See what they did there? A sensory extravaganza, historical London style, is promised in Victoria Embankment Gardens.
» Dartford Bus Garage Open Day (Sun, 10-4): The last of the Year of the Bus garage open days.
» Hampton Transport Gala (Sun, 10-5): Marking the 150th anniversary of the opening of the railway between Fulwell Junction and Shepperton. Includes steam locos and vintage buses.
» Angel Canal Festival (Sun, 11-5): Waterside gaiety beside City Road Lock. Expect the Mayor of Islington to arrive by narrowboat.
» Palmers Green Festival (Sun, 12-7): All the fun of a community bandstand, the UK DJ Academy and Britain's tallest mobile climbing wall.
» Brentford Festival (Sun, from 12): Funfair, stalls and a dog show, in Blondin Park W5. And you can arrive by free Routemaster bus from Brentford or Hanwell.
» The Cally Festival (Sun, 12-6): Community event on the Caledonian Road, featuring music, art, food and creative workshops.

Weekend 2: September 13/14
» Heritage Open Days (Thu-Sun): Hundreds of buildings that aren't usually open, are open. Most of them are outside London, but there are plenty open in Kingston (which is spending the weekend pretending it's in Surrey). (See also Berks, Bucks, Essex, Herts, Kent)
» Blue Ribbon Village (Sat, Sun, noon-6.00): This assemblage of stalls and family-friendly activities by City Hall is all that survives of the original Thames Festival.
» St Katharine Docks Classic Boat Festival (Sat, Sun, 11.00-6.00): Annual gathering of small boats near Tower Bridge. Includes a visit by the The Barnet Hill Lifeboat Crew Shanty Singers.
» Tour of Britain (Sun, 11.00-5.30): The final stage of this cross-country bike race is a ten-lap lycra-tastic sprinty circuit starting and finishing on Whitehall.
» Kings Place Festival (Fri-Sun): Head to King's Cross for 100+ performances of spoken word, comedy, dance, jazz and classical music. Here's a list of the free events.
» London Design Festival (continues until next weekend): Hundreds of design-er events will be taking place across the capital. I'm struggling to spot a highlight this year.

Weekend 3: September 20/21
» Open House London (Sat, Sun): The grand-daddy of architectural festivals, with hundreds of weird and wonderful buildings throwing open their doors across the capital. Most of the really special events are fully booked, but you're not too late to sign up for the this four-property raffle. There'll be tons to see over the weekend, in fact far too much to choose from. Be there, or regret it for the next 52 weeks.
» Great Gorilla Run (Sat, from 10.30): Dress up as a gorilla and run 7km to raise money for charity (or just come along and watch sweaty knackered apes).
» Bermondsey Street Festival (Sat, 11-7): It's usually Designers, Dance and a Dog Show, plus food and stalls (but this year the website's useless, so who knows?)
» There must be something else on this weekend, surely.

Weekend 4: September 27/28
» Autumn Ambles (Sat, Sun): 40 free guided walks around London's strategic footpath network. Most are in the centre of town, but a handful will take you out to the periphery for a proper ramble. Praise be that Walk London's budget still somehow survives. See the full list of events here.
» Abbey Gardens Harvest Festival (Sat, 1-4): This year's theme at the historic Newham allotments alongside Abbey Road DLR is PumpkinFest 2014.
» The Great River Race (Sat, 12.30-15.40): 300 craft engage in a spectacular paddle up the Thames from Docklands to Richmond.
» There must be something else on this weekend, surely.

(And don't forget the Folkestone Triennial for an eclectic dose of seaside art, any time before 2nd November)

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