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Totally Thames Reflections
Photograph: Totally Thames

150 boats with sparkling lights will sail down the Thames tomorrow for the Queen

The twinkling flotilla will recreate a nighttime Canaletto scene

India Lawrence
Written by
India Lawrence

On Saturday September 24, 150 boats with twinkling lights will sail down the river Thames as a tribute to the Queen, making a ‘stunning river of light’. The flotilla was originally planned to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, but will instead go ahead to honour the late monarch after her death and commemorate King Charles’s accession. 

The watery procession will start at Albert Bridge and finish at Tower Bridge. You can watch it for free from anywhere along the route, as long as there’s a view of the river. The boats will begin bobbing along the water at dusk, just in time to see the sunset. They will pass Chelsea Bridge at 7pm, Westminster Bridge at 7.30pm and arrive at Tower Bridge at 8.15pm.

The luminescent tribute to Her Maj is part of an installation called ‘Reflections’, and the sparkling boats are hoping to recreate a beautiful ‘nighttime Canaletto scene’ – the Italian painter who’s best known for his canvases of Venetian canals. 

And it’s not just the boats that will be lit up, as the bridges will also be illuminated with creations by light artist Leo Villareal. When the boats arrive at Tower Bridge for the grand finale the structure will light up in bright purple, commemorating Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. 

Among the procession will be the Royal Row Barge ‘Gloriana’, as well as traditional rowing boats including Cornish pilot gigs, Thames watermen’s cutters, skiffs and skerries.

The flotilla hopes to raise £20,000 for the RNLI, with the money going towards a new lifeboat station at Waterloo Bridge. 

This isn’t one to be missed. Bon voyage!

Sat Sep 24. Find more details here.

A statue of the Queen may be put on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth.

You can walk the Elizabeth line for charity.

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