phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London
Image Credit: Magnus D

The Best Places to Watch the Boat Race in London

26 March 2017 Edd Elliott

The Boat Race – a contest between two of the Britain’s most elite and exclusive universities in a sport watched approximately twice a year that incomprehensibly gets six hours of TV coverage and the country head-to-tail throwing their arms in the air yelling “Up the stroke count!” – it’s certainly one of London’s more bizarre calendar dates. But if you are set on joining in the sporting oddity on Sunday 2 April, you better know where to watch. Here is a handy guide to the Boat Race 2017.

Bridges
 
The Boat Race takes place on the river (duh), and some of the best spots for watching the contest unfold are the Thames’ crossing points. There are three main bridges featured throughout the course – Putney Bridge, Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge – and each offers a peerless view of the action. Putney Bridge sits just before the course’s start, and allows a perfect shot of the crews powering from the blocks. A fan favourite, Hammersmith Bridge resides just short of halfway and is a good station-point for assessing the contest before the boats turn for the all-important bend. And Barnes Bridge overlooks the finish and gives a great spectator view of the teams racing for the line. Readers be advised: all of these areas – and in particular Barnes Bridge – fill up very quickly. You will have to arrive seriously early to get a good location.


Hammersmith Bridge
 
Riverside
 
If you can’t find a spot on a bridge, perching riverside is an adequate alternative. Paths run along both sides of this stretch of the Thames and there are plenty of ample places to stand. Putney Embankment is a good location for watching the race’s early tussles, while Dukes Meadow runs along the course’s final stretch. Also look out for the Thames Reach, a wide pathway birth just before Hammersmith Bridge with lots of areas to get right up to the river’s edge. Designated spectators’ areas are also plotted throughout the 4-mile route. Bishop’s Park and Furnival Gardens usually have a large screen and plenty of food & drink’s stands. You can also watch the race from Craven Cottage Football Stadium. Fulham F.C’s home ground looks out over the starting blocks, and will be laying on lots of fun activities to get involved with – entrance is £12.


Mike Fleming
 
Pubs
 
Like most sporting occasions, the Boat Race is best enjoyed with a beer in hand, and if this sounds like your style of spectatorship, there are plenty of pubs and bars dotted along the course for you to enjoy. The Crabtree has long been a favourite for the drinking viewer. This lively joint has a spacious veranda overlooking the Thames (as well as a cute beer garden) and serves great food and ales – arrive early as it will fill up quick. The Blue Anchor and The Rutland are also popular sites. You will have to depart from your outdoor benches to get a view of the crews, but it’s worth it for these classic English inns. Further along the north bank you can find The Dove, The Old Ship and The Black Lion – all great choices for a tipple before the race – and on the south bank nearing the finishing line is Ye White Hart, a stylish 17th century tavern with a gourmet menu.


 
There it is: the London Calling guide to watching the Boat Race. Whether you’re plugging for Oxford or Cambridge, or just looking for something to do Sunday 2 April, pick one of our options and you will be rowing yourself into calm waters.

Tell us what you think

You may also like

A Guide to London’s Jazz Jams

A Guide to London’s Jazz Jams

There’s something about the spontaneity of jazz that’s just so appealing - a group of musicians letting loose and running wild. Who knows where they’ll end up –…

Win a pair of tickets to a night of Mexican wrestling!

York Hall - Win a pair of tickets to a night of Mexican wrestling!

York Hall present Lucha Libre: an exciting evening of iconic masked Mexican wrestling

Free Range 2017

Free Range 2017

The annual showcase of new and emerging artists returns to The Old Truman Brewery

Top 5: Bloody Marys in London

Top 5: Bloody Marys in London

Nations throughout history have clamored to take ownership of the iconic Bloody Mary, and it’s easy to understand why. Whether she was born in 1920s Paris…

The Glory Lates with Timberlina

The Glory Lates with Timberlina

Drag sensation Timberlina returns to Dalston's The Glory to host an evening of empathy and folk wisdom.

Ealing Comedy Festival 2017

Ealing Comedy Festival 2017

Ealing's annual Comedy Festival returns with a star-studded line-up.

Song of Contagion at Wilton’s Music Hall

Song of Contagion at Wilton’s Music Hall

Acclaimed World and Jazz musicians combine with a renowned scientist to tell the story of gobal epidemics.

Hormazd Narielwalla - Sanctuary

Hormazd Narielwalla - Sanctuary

Gallery Elena Shchukina present collage artist Hormazd Narielwalla's latest work 'Sanctuary'.

An Interview With Kit Harington

An Interview With Kit Harington

As a descendant of the British Royal family, it’s perhaps fitting that Acton-born Kit Harington found fame as part of the world’s most popular TV tale of…

You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred - Zabludowicz Collection

You Are Looking at Something That Never Occurred - Zabludowicz Collection

We visited the Zabludowicz collection in North London to take a look at their latest exhibition featuring 14 international photographers, over a 40-year period, who…

Most popular

Win a Trip to St Pauls Cathedral & a Meal for Two

London Day Out - Win a Trip to St Pauls Cathedral & a Meal for Two

Visit the stunning, iconic St Pauls Cathedral followed by a two-course meal with wine at Brasserie Blanc!
Win a pair of tickets to the West End transfer of Kiss Me

Trafalgar Studios - Win a pair of tickets to the West End transfer of Kiss Me

Unorthodox 1920s love story Kiss Me comes to the West End
Win a pair of tickets to new musical Roller Diner

Soho Theatre - Win a pair of tickets to new musical Roller Diner

New musical-comedy Roller Diner is an award-winning show about love, jealousy and murder
Win two tickets to Vices and Verses ft. Katie Melua

Poetry & Lyrics Festival - Win two tickets to Vices and Verses ft. Katie Melua

Katie Melua, Murray Lachlan Young and Don Black chat and perform poetry at King's Place
Win one of three copies of new book Shop London

Author Emma McCarthy - Win one of three copies of new book Shop London

Emma McCarthy's new book handpicks 200 of London's best independent shops and retail destinations.
Win one of five pairs of tickets to a Tchaikovsky Gala!

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra - Win one of five pairs of tickets to a Tchaikovsky Gala!

Experience a night of Tchaikovsky's greatest hits, performed by the Royal Philharmonic, at the Royal Albert Hall
Win a pair of tickets to new musical Holy Crap

The King's Head Theatre - Win a pair of tickets to new musical Holy Crap

New musical comedy Holy Crap is a premiere brimful of sin and sacrilege.
“Burlesque is supposed to be a comment on modern society”. An interview with Tempest Rose.

“Burlesque is supposed to be a comment on modern society”. An interview with Tempest Rose.

Burlesque figurehead Tempest Rose talks to London Calling about the past, and future, of the movement.
Win a Pair of Tickets to The Kite Runner

Playhouse Theatre - Win a Pair of Tickets to The Kite Runner

Relive the magic of Khaled Hosseini's much-loved novel The Kite Runner.
Win a pair of tickets to a night of Mexican wrestling!

York Hall - Win a pair of tickets to a night of Mexican wrestling!

York Hall present Lucha Libre: an exciting evening of iconic masked Mexican wrestling

Your inbox deserves a little culture!