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TTBF 2021 - latest news

On July 16th 2022 Tim Koch, the oarsman and much published rowing author, historian and archivist, 

paid his first visit to the "Trad" and described it thus:- 


I found an event that was partly village fete, partly a gathering of eccentrics and enthusiasts, and partly a summer picnic by the Thames. It could not have been more British had it been organised by the Queen, P.G. Wodehouse and Mary Poppins as they enjoyed afternoon tea while riding on a London bus.

In 1993 the then Conservative Prime Minister John Major sought to reassure Eursosceptics in parliament by saying that, despite European Union Membership, "Fifty years from now, Britain will still be a country of long shadows on county cricket grounds, warm beer, invincible green suburbs, dog lovers, and..... old maids bicycling to Holy Communion through the morning mist."

Had Major wished to evoke "Britishness" in fewer words he could have simply said that,

"Fifty years from now, Britain will still hold the Thames Traditional Boat Festival."


Here are just two of the many messages received following the 2021 Festival

"Congratulations for achieving such a wonderful return of the Thames Traditional Boat Festival. It was a very welcome restoration of normality for the Thames boating world and a chance to meet friends and talk to other organisations whom we had not seen for ages. All this in addition to the first-rate entertainment and spectacle."



"It was like a fairy tale!  You gave us all back our lives for a short period of time and we are all tremendously grateful.  The memories of the entire event are sprinkled with fairy dust.   I can hardly put into words how much I personally appreciate all of the hard work that the committee puts into each event.  After a year away, let me just say a humble congratulations on a resounding success once again."

Dear Supporter


Thames Traditional Boat Festival 2023


We were delighted, once again, to receive so many kind and thoughtful messages of thanks, following the 44th Thames Traditional Boat Festival, held in July last year.  


Our small, volunteer Committee work extremely hard, not only to deliver a special event, but also to review and evolve the ‘recipe’ to ensure it remains both relevant and enjoyable moving forward.  To that end, a number of carefully considered improvements are introduced each year.  Many tell us just how impressed they are with what the Thames Traditional Boat Festival has become.    


Perhaps unsurprisingly, improvements to the site facilities and security have led to annual increases in costs.  Less easy to anticipate were the substantial, typically double-digit increases in supplier costs associated with hosting the weekend last year.


The Festival remains by no short measure, the most inclusive riverside event held on the banks of the Thames at Henley, and for many miles both up and downstream. The Committee were fully committed to a policy of subsidising low charges after the pandemic and continued this support last year.  The time has come, however, after two years, to accept that the price increases we have been subsidising cannot be maintained without placing the future of this special event at risk.  Pricing for 2023 therefore reflects the need to assure the future of the Festival.  We hope further to strengthen finances through sponsorship.


Should you have any questions or wish to discuss supporting this very special weekend, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the following email address -

We very much look forward to welcoming you, once again, to Fawley Meadows in July.

Our very best wishes


Lady McAlpine                                                                                            Adam Toop

Co-Chair                                                                                                        Co-Chair

The Thames Traditional Boat Festival                                                  The Thames Traditional Boat Festival

Sunday 31st May 2020

From the outset of these very difficult and fast-evolving times, the Committee of the Thames Traditional Boat Festival took the decision to evaluate carefully and sensitively all possible options that might allow the Festival to be held in some form this year, and not to cancel until we really believed there was no alternative action available to us. 


While the cancellation of the Henley Royal Regatta provided new and expensive challenges, with stored bulky Regatta infrastructure and heavy equipment blocking crucial sections of the Upper Meadows site, it is the extended timetable that we are now seeing applied to the easing of restrictions that ultimately stands in the way of us being able to hold the Festival this year. 


While we now truly have no option in this matter, we nonetheless write with very heavy hearts.  The Thames Traditional Boat Festival is a hugely popular feature in the summer calendar, drawing visitors from around the globe while supporting so many local businesses.  The small Committee works hard from the close of each Trad to make the following year’s event as perfect as possible, and we were very excited about the event we were offering this year.  We considered arranging a casual one day get together on the site later in the year, but even this now looks beset by on-going restrictions. 


We are most grateful to those who have already generously pledged their advance payments as donations, towards the staging of the 2021 Trad.  Thank you. 


The TTBF remains a 'not for profit' event with the ultimate aim of assisting young people to take up boat-building apprenticeships.  It is run by volunteers, including the Committee, which is committed to welcoming everyone back to Fawley Meadows next year. Please put the dates in your diary - Friday 16th to Sunday 18th July 2021.  


We look forward to seeing you all there. 


With very best wishes 


Judy, The Hon. Lady McAlpine,

Adam Toop,

and the Thames Traditional Boat Festival Committee

 The next Thames Traditional Boat Festival

friday 16th - Sunday 18th July 2021


An exciting and fun day out for the whole family,

a celebration of all that's best in British boatbuilding and craftsmanship

evoking the nostalgia of boating from a bygone era.


This popular, long-running event, now offers more attractions on the water,

in the air and on the land, than ever before. 


the fleet of

Dunkirk "Little Ships"


and the largest display of traditional boats in Europe, 

amphibious and military vehicles, the WW1 air display team - and much more...



The history of the Thames Traditional Boat Festival

Take part

Enter your Traditional Boat, Vintage or Classic,

Amphibious or Military Vehicle, or as an Exhibitor/ Trader


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