A day out at the Boat Race: Watch history being made
The annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is a great British tradition and one of the first opportunities to experience spring in London. This year’s event is set for 24 March and promises to be a hotly fought contest.
Boat Race timetable
While a trip to the Boat Race can be an all-day event, it’s important to be in position well before the competitions start. The women’s race is the first to set off, with the two teams departing from Putney Bridge at 16.31.
An hour later, the men’s teams will begin their race from the same spot. Usually, the route takes between 16 and 18 minutes to complete, although over the years there have been a number of incidences that have slowed down proceedings.
Best views along the Thames
The key to having a good view of the Boat Race is to arrive early and stake out your spot. Decide in advance what your strategy is going to be and stick to it. Do you want to experience the anticipation of the competition ahead in the hubbub of the start; are you more interested in seeing how the teams are progressing in the middle; or do you want to join in the atmosphere and excitement at the end?
Putney Embankment is a popular choice, as it allows you a long view of the boats approaching and disappearing into the distance. Getting off the Tube at Hammersmith or Kew Gardens and making your way towards the Thames is a good place to start, while the Barnes Bridge and Chiswick mainline stations are also convenient for finding a good view.
Picnic spots and pubs
Your decision as to whether to enjoy a picnic or some refreshment in a local pub may come down to the great British climate. Luckily, there are options for both circumstances along the banks of the river.
If you are packing a picnic, then head to the tree-lined avenue of Bishops Park in Fulham or the pretty location of Hammersmith’s Furnivall Gardens, where a fan park will be set up. Both have views of the Thames and the space for you to spread out a blanket and some delicious fare.
Should the weather turn bad or you feel like a pint, then the selection of handily-located pubs include: The Boathouse in Putney, with its terrace overlooking the start line; Hammersmith’s Blue Anchor, which shows the race on TV screens if it’s raining; and the Ship in Mortlake, which couldn’t be better for the finish line.
Boat Race essentials
When leaving the Royal Garden Hotel for a day at the Boat Race, make sure you’re fully prepared. Here are a few of the things you may wish to take with you:
- Comfortable shoes, as you will need to walk to your preferred viewing spot
- Waterproof clothing for the unpredictable British weather
- Sunglasses and sun cream, also for the weather
- A pair of binoculars to get a closer look at just how tight the two boats are together
- Drinks and snacks to keep you going