Where to Watch the Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race
This year, the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race takes place on Sunday, April 3. If you’re planning on where to watch the races, The Resident has got you sorted with the best riverside pubs, banksides, bridges and big screens to do so…
Photo: The Boat Race
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.
The race starts from Putney Pier, between The Star & Garter pub and Thai Square, and finishes at Chiswick Bridge, just past The Ship in Mortlake.
There are also two bank-side fan parks for eager spectators: one at Bishop’s Park in Fulham (the beginning of the race), and one 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 2.23pm (women’s) and 3.23pm (men’s). Find the full timetable for the day at theboatrace.org and see the course map below:
Where to watch the race
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 The Duke’s Head, Putney
At the start of the annual race is the Duke’s 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…
Address: 8 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN
3 Star & Garter, Putney
***Currently closed***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.
Address: 4 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN
4 Thai Square, Putney
Another start line favourite, Thai Square by Putney Pier has panoramic views over the river Thames. Head over for lunch and request a window seat for a peaceful way to take it all in, or dine outside on the patio to soak up the atmosphere and the cheers as the races start.
Address: 2-4 Lower Richmond Road, Putney SW15 1JN
5 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.
Address: Queen Elizabeth Walk, Barnes SW13 0DG
1 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.
Address: Bishops Park, Fulham SW6
2 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.
Address: 90 Fulham High Street, Fulham SW6 3LF
1 The Blue Boat Hammersmith
Officially opened by twice world champion and Olympic bronze medal winning rower, Sarah Winckless in 2015, The Blue Boat is part of swanky riverside development Fulham Reach by St George. It blends elements of a traditional London boozer, lots of Boat Race memorabilia with a modern, spacious area with lots of natural light, comfy seats and an eye-catching central bar.
Address: Distillery Wharf, Parr’s Way W6 9GD
2 Sam’s Riverside, Hammersmith
This effortlessly elegant Thames-side venue is gearing up for the big day – it’s first Boat Race day, thanks to Covid. Normal lunch and dinner service in the restaurant will be extended to 12pm to 6pm, and Head Chef Ashley Tinoco will cook up takeaway dishes on the terrace – weather dependent of course. These dishes will include oysters, crevettes and mayo, slow-cooked brisket baps, and warming chowders, and there will be beers and special Boat Race cocktails available for takeaway too.
Address: 1 Crisp Road W6 9DN
3 Furnivall Gardens, Hammersmith
The Furnivall Gardens Fan Park, located in the middle section of the Championship Course, offers some of the best views of the Boat Race. Located on the north side of Hammersmith bend, the Fan Park site has a big screen to watch the action, street food vendors and bars selling Shepherd Neame Beer. Free to enter. Ten minutes from Hammersmith Station on foot.
Address: 52a Rutland Grove W6 9DG
4 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.
Address: Rainville Road W6 9HA
5 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.
Address: 19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TA
6 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.
Address: 15 Lower Mall, Hammersmith W6 9DJ
7 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.
Address: 13 Lower Mall, Hammersmith W6 9DJ
8 The Old Ship, Hammersmith
Always a popular spot for the Boat Race, the recently refurbished Old Ship has a riverside garden with excellent views of the race. There’s also 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!
Address: 25 Upper Mall, Hammersmith W6 9TD
9 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.
1 Chiswick Pier
Of all the good viewing points on the Middlesex bank, all the way from The Dove in Hammersmith 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.
Address: The Pier House, Corney Reach Way, Chiswick, W4 2UG
2 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.
Address: The Promenade, Chiswick W4 2SH
3 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.
Address: Dan Mason Drive, Chiswick W4 2SH
BARNES & MORTLAKE
1 Rick Stein, Barnes
Watch the Boat Race in style and enjoy a four course set menu at Rick Stein’ riverside restaurant in Barnes. The special menu includes Rick’s most celebrated dishes including scallops with truffle butter and lobster risotto to start and mains such as Dover sole or turbot. Sip champagne and enjoy the views from the lovely restaurant. There is one seating only at 2.15pm.
Address: Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High Street, SW14 8SN
2 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.
Address: 373 Lonsdale Road, Barnes SW13 9PY
3 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.
Address: The Terrace, Riverside, Barnes SW13 0NR
4 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.
Address: 10 Thames Bank, Mortlake SW14 7QR