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TALK OF THE THAMES

PUBLISHED: 15:50 09 September 2009 | UPDATED: 11:03 23 August 2010

ALL SET: The Thames Festival Pageant boat.

ALL SET: The Thames Festival Pageant boat.

THE UK s biggest end-of-summer party is to take place at the weekend with the opening of the Mayor s Thames Festival. Held since 1997, the event celebrates the river with open air arts, river events, pyrotechnics, illuminations, street theatre, massed ch

THE UK's biggest end-of-summer party is to take place at the weekend with the opening of the Mayor's Thames Festival.

Held since 1997, the event celebrates the river with open air arts, river events, pyrotechnics, illuminations, street theatre, massed choirs and music.

The two-day festival starts Saturday and to mark its centenary, the PLA (Port of London Authority) is sponsoring a River Pageant.

Festival director Adrian Evans said: "Essentially, we want to provide a celebration for London and its river, a city centre party if you like, one that is free and open to all.

"We want to close roads and bridges and transform them with culture. We want to educate and transform people's ideas about the river, too. Most of all, we want people not just to be spectators, but to be active participants in this spectacular London event."

The Thames Pageant sees river users of all kinds join together in a programme-packed river display.

It runs from the 02 Dome (The Queen Elizabeth II Pier) to Westminster, featuring users of the river from working tugs and steam tugs to private yachts, fireboats, pleasure boats and two PLA craft - the Marine Services tug Impulse and the brand new Harbour Service Launch Lambeth.

The Pageant is due to start at the 02 Dome at 1.30pm on Saturday September 12 and will pass through the festival site between 2-3pm.

On Sunday a Newcomers Barge Driving Race between Westminster and Tower Bridges features at 1pm, a Thames Waterman's Cutter Race from Westminster Boating Base to Millennium Bridge at 2pm, another race for Cutters between Lambeth and Millennium Bridges at 3.30pm and the Faldo Barge Driving Race from Tower to Westminster Bridges at 4.30pm.

A mid-river Firework Display off the South Bank (Oxo Tower) at 9.45pm on Sunday, will bring the event to an end.

Visit www.thamesfestival.org for more information

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