Friday, 19 August 2022

Boat festival returns this weekend with bumper offering

Boat festival returns this weekend with bumper offering

THE organiser of Henley’s Thames Traditional Boat Festival says this year’s event will be bigger and better than ever before.

Lady McAlpine, of Fawley Hill, is leading the organising committee for the three-day river-based extravaganza which begins today (Friday) and which will feature more than 200 craft including the royal row barge Gloriana.

She said: “I’m terribly excited because we have got a great show — more boats, more shopping, more everything than before. It’s going to be wonderful.

“We have got good bands, good music and great boats. People can expect a jolly good day out and plenty of opportunities for a ride of the river.”

Lady McAlpine added: “There’s an awful lot o see and do, including a blacksmith on a barge.”

Organisers are hoping for a record crowd at the 38th annual event, which will take place at Fawley Meadows, off Marlow Road.

A wide range of vessels will be on display, from coracles and canoes to military and amphibious models, a Victorian steam cruiser, a flotilla of Dunkirk Little Ships and the only remaining torpedo boat from the First World War.

There will also be an exhibition of vintage and classic cars and motorbikes and fly-pasts by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which this year will include an American Douglas C-47 “Dakota” transport plane, and biplanes and triplanes from the Great War Display Team.

Gloriana, which was built to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, will be the centrepiece of the festival. It is returning for the third consecutive year and for the first time will be offering river cruises on all three days.

Tickets for the trips are limited but will not be sold in advance to ensure all guests have a chance to buy one.

Luscombe’s at the Golden Ball in Lower Assendon will be serving fish and chips and other meals while the Time For Tea mobile vintage café, which is based in Henley, will sell cakes and hot drinks.

There will also be Vietnamese food, Nepalese curries cooked by Gurkhas, a Greek delicatessen, an Army field kitchen, cocktail, beer and champagne bars, Italian ice cream and more.

Hobbs will also operate a free river shuttle service from the town centre to the festival site and back for ticket holders. There will also be parties tonight (Friday) and on Sunday night and performances by local artists.

The festival used to be known as the Thames Traditional Boat Rally until 2014, when it was called off due to flooding on the meadow at the start of that year.

It was revived under its current name in 2015 by a new organising committee led by Lady McAlpine. Last year, there were more than 15,000 visitors.

Three-day tickets cost £26 for adults and £12 for children aged 13 to 17 (under-12s go free). A limited number of camping and caravan pitches is available and there is also a luxury “glamping” option.

For more information, visit

l The winner of the Henley Standard competition to spend the weekend at the event, completely free, is Peter Behan of Wargrave Road, Henley. He correctly answered that Mr Hobbs’ gin, a drink launched this year by river operator Hobbs of Henley, would be served at the festival for the first time.

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