Classic Boat Festival returns to St. Katharine Docks this September

St. Katharine Docks, Central London’s only marina, will welcome back its 13th Classic Boat Festival on the 9 – 11 September, with visitors invited to enjoy three days of exquisitely preserved vessels amidst days filled with a wide array of activities for the whole family in this iconic waterside location.  

This year’s festival will run from 3pm – 5.30pm on 9 September (plus VIP evening), 11am – 6pm on 10 September, and 11am – 5pm on 11 September. Festivalgoers will be able to marvel at around 40 beautifully preserved vintage boats including several of the surviving war hero Dunkirk Little Ships, which rescued 336,000 trapped Allied soldiers on the beaches at Dunkirk in 1940, and the Bates Star Craft.

Beyond just admiring the historic vessels, visitors will be able to chat to their passionate owners and even step aboard some of the boats. Each day at this waterside haven in the heart of Central London will be marked with an opening and closing salute of horns. With a packed programme of activities on offer, festivalgoers can immerse themselves with live music, talks and kids’ activities.

For those looking to expand their boating knowledge, look no further than the programme of talks confirmed for the festival. Attendees will be able to hear from yachting celebrity Tom Cunliffe, the owner of traditional gaff-rigged boats for 40 years, sailing them to places such as South America, Greenland, North Africa and Communist Russia, and most recently acquired a 44ft Bermudan cutter from America. On Saturday and Sunday, the custodians of HM The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’ will be giving a talk, as well as photographer Jonathon Goldberg giving a talk on ‘Thames Islands’ on Saturday. The final day will offer the chance to listen to the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, founded in 1966 by the late radio and TV presenter Raymond Baxter. Throughout the weekend, between talks, visitors are encouraged to enjoy the entertainment, nautical goods, and services available on Marble Quay.

St. Katharine Docks provides the perfect setting for a journey through time admiring the festival’s historic boats. The marina will be flowing with activities throughout the weekend, inviting festivalgoers to grab a bite to eat and relax with a drink in hand at St. Katharine Docks many bars, cafes, and restaurants.

Classic Boat Festival Activities

  • Classic Boats: Climb on-board and explore around 40 vintage work boats and sailing and motor yachts, including Dunkirk Little Ships, HM The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’, the Nancy Blackett, the favourite yacht of ‘Swallows and Amazons’ author Arthur Ransome, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gipsy Moth IV and many others
  • Working vessels from the RNLI and the Wapping Marine Police Unit will also be available to view at the Festival
  • Entertainment, shopping and services on Marble Quay: Ashore will be more vessels and stalls, from the RNLI, The Nancy Blackett Trust, On The Slate and Harbour Marine Services. Here there will also be an outdoor seating area with live entertainment
  • On-the-water activities, with free stand up paddleboarding sessions available to all
  • Food and drinks to enjoy across the weekend

SKD Talks Programme: 

Friday 9th

  • 4pm Tom Cunliffe

Saturday 10th

  • 12 midday HM The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’
  • 1:30 History of St Katharine Docks with Dr Oliver Ayers
  • 3pm ‘Thames Islands’ by photographer Jonathan Goldberg

Sunday 11th

  • 12 midday HM The Queen’s Row Barge ‘Gloriana’
  • 3pm Association of Dunkirk Little Ships

*More talks to be announced shortly. 


For more information visit

St. Katharine Docks is easily accessible via DLR, District or Circle and Hammersmith & City lines at Tower Gateway and Tower Hill underground stations and is also easy to reach via walking and cycle routes, with TfL docking and bike racks onsite. 

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