The Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race takes place on Saturday 24 March 2018. The men’s boat race was first raced in 1829, and the women’s in 1927 respectively, making it one of the oldest sporting events in the world.
There are two bank-side fan parks; at Bishop’s Park in Fulham (the beginning of the race), and at Furnivall Gardens in Hammersmith (the half way mark). Both open at 12 noon and have a big screen, bars and street food. The latter is known as course’s liveliest location. The races start at 4.31pm (Women’s) and 5.32pm (Men’s).
But there are plenty of great spots to watch the boat race. The Resident picks out some of the best between Putney and Mortlake…
1 Putney Bridge
Just a few minutes walk from Putney Bridge tube station, Putney Bridge has great views of the two crews right from the very start of the race, up as far as the Fulham bend. Get there early for a good spot though as fans line the railings up to four or five deep. You can then walk to Bishop’s Park and catch the rest of the race on the Big Screen.
2 Dukes Head, Putney
At the start of the annual race is the Dukes Head, a grand Grade-II listed boozer that has been sitting in this prime Putney spot for 150 years. It’s been a hotspot of the Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Race for over a century, so if it ain’t broke…
8 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN; dukesheadputney.com
3 Star & Garter, Putney
Also at the start line is The Star & Garter, an ideal spot if you want to watch the rowers warm up and cheer the teams as they set off. This popular riverside watering hole will be shpowing the race on all three levels and also has a full programme of events taking place from midday with food, drinks promotions, live music and DJs until late.
4 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN; thestarandgarter.com
4 Putney Embankment & Barn Elms Boathouse
The busy embankment in front of the boathouses in Putney is a perfectly apt place to see the first part of the race, where you’ll see rowing club members milling about and getting right into the festival spirit. Barn Elms Boathouse in particular has a wide concrete landing stage, from where you can see the crews as they race off towards the Mile Post. Be warned though your feet could get wet.
Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes SW13 0DG
5 Bisphop’s Park
The Bishop’s Park Fan Park is located at the very start of The Boat Race, and the focus is on fun for all the family. Open from 12 noon, there will be bars and street food and a big screen to watch the BBC live coverage from start to finish.
Bishops Park, Fulham SW6; theboatrace.org
6 The Temperance
After seeing the rowers off at Putney Bridge, rush back to the Middlesex Bank and grab a spot at The Temperance to watch the rest on screen. From here you can enjoy the cocktails, beers, food and atmosphere.
90 Fulham High Street, Fulham SW6 3LF; thetemperancefulham.co.uk
7 Craven Cottage
Watch the race in style with a hospitality package at Craven Cottage, the home of Fulham FC. The Riverside Hospitality Lounges have great views of the Thames, and for £55pp you can enjoy a welcome drink followed by hot and cold platters before watching Oxford and Cambridge go to battle, as well as cheese, cake and tea and coffee.
Stevenage Road, Fulham SW6 6HH; fulhamfc.com
8 The Crabtree, Hammersmith
Wedged between Putney and Hammersmith Bridge, The Crabtree is a pretty perfect spot to catch The Boat Race. So perfect – with its vast garden and terrace that leads up the water’s edge – it even throws a festival. Expect plenty of big screens, food and drink, live music playing all day long and a DJ set till late. From 11am.
Rainville Road W6 9HA; thecrabtreew6.co.uk
9 The Dove, Hammersmith
It may have a Guinness World Record for the smallest bar room in the world, but rest assured that there will be space from which to watch the race at this historic pub – as long as you get in early. The riverside terrace is an excellent viewing spot for the Hammersmith to Chiswick Eyot stretch, and a great place for a pint and a meal too.
19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TA; dovehammersmith.co.uk
10 The Rutland Arms, Hammersmith
The Rutland, a waterside pub with a beer garden, has long been regarded as one of THE best places to watch the race. Classic pub meals like fish and chips, pies and mash and burgers will feed the spectators, and the cask ales featuring the best in British beer will be flowing.
15 Lower Mall, Hammersmith W6 9DJ; taylor-walker.co.uk
11 The Blue Anchor, Hammersmith
Claiming to have sold beer since before George I was King of England, Captain Cook had discovered Australia and the French revolution had begun, this family run pub is another race day classic. Naturally, the upstairs function room will be booked out and the downstairs packed with spectators. Close to Hammersmith Bridge, this is another great view point for that crucial stretch.
13 Lower Mall, Hammersmith W6 9DJ; blueanchorlondon.com
12 Old Ship W6, Hammersmith
Always a popular spot for the Boat Race, the Old Ship W6 has excellent views of the race and there’s a good seasonal dining menu plus plenty of cask-conditioned beers and a good wine list so you won’t go hungry or thirsty with all that spectating!
25 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TD; oldshipw6.co.uk
13 Hammersmith Bridge
A 10-minute walk from Hammersmith Tube Station, Hammersmith Bridge has always attracted thousands of Boat Race spectators. The bridge provides great views as the crews come in to view from around the Surrey Bend until they race into the distance towards Chiswick Eyot and Barnes. As with Putney Bridge, get there early for a good spot as the crowds will be four or five deep.
14 Chiswick Pier
Of all the good viewing points on the Middlesex bank, all the way from The Dove in Hammersmith (above) to Dukes Meadow, Chiswick Pier is one of the best as one of the crews will often put in a decisive push for the finish line at this stage.
15 The Emmanuel School Boathouse
Located close to Barnes Bridge on the Middlesex bank, The Emanuel School Boathouse offers spectacular views of the final stages of the race.
16 Dukes Meadow
A large park and recreation ground adjacent to the river between Chiswick Bridge and Barnes Bridge on the Middlesex bank, Dukes Meadow provides views of the final stage of the Race.
BARNES & MORTLAKE
17 The Bulls Head, Barnes
Barnes is popular destination on Boat Race day. Plan a visit to The Bulls Head, a historical pub that’s been given a modern-day makeover. The pub, which will be screening the whole race on screens around the pub, is handily located on the final stretch of the race by the Thames so you can really soak up the atmosphere.
373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes SW13 9PY; thebullsheadbarnes.com
18 The White Hart, Barnes
Another Boat Race staple, The White Hart will be teeming with people come Boat Race day – but there’s a good reason why. This trusty traditional pub is a superb location for watching the blues and the, er, light blues battle it out with their oars for the last mile. Again, get there in advance to secure a top spot.
The Terrace, Riverside, Barnes SW13 0NR; whitehartbarnes.co.uk
19 The Ship, Mortlake
Celebrate the winning team at the finish line – or head to The Ship Mortlake, which has a view of the finish line and sells a host of refreshing beverages too.
10 Thames Bank, Mortlake SW14 7QR; taylor-walker.co.uk