The River Thames will be buzzing this weekend as 400 crews from around the globe compete in the historic Head of the River race. The boating event is one of London’s longest-running sporting traditions and draws huge crowds each year. It is a great way to celebrate the start of spring for both locals and visitors, so if you’re heading to London this Sunday 29th March, be sure to get down to the river and experience the excitement.
As a hotel near the River Thames, we at Strand Palace love celebrating this prestigious and thrilling event, and can help you plan out your day.
The race’s history
The first Head of the River race was held in 1926, with 21 crews of eight taking part. It is rowed over the 4.25-mile Thames Championship Course from Mortlake to Putney. Over time, it began to attract competitors from all over the British Isles and beyond – even as far as Russia, the United States and Australia. There are now hundreds of boats participating every year, each manned by eight men. Because of its increasing popularity, the race had to be made processional, with each crew starting at 10-second intervals, beginning with the previous year’s winner.
The event’s founder intended it to be viewed as both a competitive race and a social occasion, and that attitude has continued to this day. It is the first major national rowing event of the season and most British clubs try to enter as many crews as they can.
Where to watch the race
The banks of the River Thames are always bustling with spectators during the Head of the River Race. There are a few popular vantage points, including Chiswick Bridge, where you can see the start line; Barnes Bridge, where the rowers gather their pace; Hammersmith Bridge around the halfway mark; and the finish line at Putney, which is only 30 minutes by train from Strand Palace Hotel. As such a popular event, everywhere is extremely busy during the race so it’s a good idea to get there nice and early to make sure you can see.
There are also a few cosy pubs along the river banks, where you can stay warm while enjoying a view of the race. The event starts at 12pm and takes about two hours from the first crew starting to the last crew crossing the finish line.
If you’re looking for hotels near the Head of the River Race on the River Thames in London this Sunday, Strand Palace is the perfect spot. Right in the heart of London, there is easy access to public transport, and there is plenty to do around the city for the rest of the weekend.
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