About Festival Pier
Festival Pier is located on the south shore of the River Thames next to Royal Festival Hall in the heart of the Soutbank Centre. The National Theatre, London Eye, OXO Tower Wharf, & County Hall (Home to the London Aquarium, London Dungeon, Shrek’s Adventure and more) are only a few minutes from Festival Pier. Festival Pier is popular with corporate & private charters, our daytime sightseeing cruises with Thames River Sightseeing also call at Festival Pier.
The name Festival is inherited from the Festival of Britain, a festival of national celebration which took place in 1951. The Festival of Britain was envisioned as a celebration of the centennial of the Great Exhibition of 1851 which was organised by Henry Cole & Prince Albert. The Festival of Britain turned into a grand celebration of British achievements including science, industrial design, technology & the arts. Royal Festival Hall is the only building that remains from the Festival of Britain however the area is still known for it’s concerts, exhibitions & perfomances which take place in the Festival Hall, National Theatre & the British Film Institute Southbank.
Festival Pier is an 8 minute walk* from Waterloo Station which is served by National Rail Services, the Bakerloo, Jubilee, Waterloo & City, Northern London Underground Lines & a number of buses.
Daytime Cruises from Festival Pier
Thames River Sightseeing
Thames River Sightseeing have been operating public cruises on the River Thames for over 50 years. Our current services call at six piers across London & operate a fleet of modern & traditional passenger boats. Our all weather boats have interior seating & open decks making them perfect for sightseeing or just transportation. We operate 361 days a year & operate extra services during the Summer.
Thames River Sightseeing Routes
We are currently operating one route calling at Westminster Pier, Embankment Pier, St. Katharine Pier & Greenwich Pier. Departures from each pier are every hour.
From Saturday 22nd May 2021 we will be operating 7-days a week calling at Westminster Pier, Embankment Pier, Festival Pier, Bankside Pier, Tower Bridge Quay (St. Katharine Pier) & Greenwich Pier. Unfortunately we are unable to offer our cruises to the Thames Barrier this year.
Evening Cruises from Festival Pier
We do not currently have any evening cruises planned from Festival Pier. Click the link below to view our evening cruises from other piers.
Private Charters from Festival Pier
Our versatile party boats are a popular choice on the River Thames. Large open decks, heated saloons & fully licensed bars are just a few of the facilities to be found on-board.
We provide a wide range of catering & dining options, perfectly paired with our extensive wine menu. Our entertainment options & decorations can also make your event truly unique.
Near Festival Pier
About the Royal National Theatre
The Royal National Theatre was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1976. Three individual theatres occupy the site & over 20 different performances are shown each year. The Olivier Theatre is the largest theatre & seats 1,100 guests. The Olivier Theatre takes its name from the National Theatre’s first artistic director, Sir. Laurence Olivier.
About Royal Festival Hall
Royal Festival Hall is the last remaining building from the 1951 Festival of Great Britain. The hall can seat 2,500 guests & is situated in the Southbank Centre, the largest arts centre in the United Kingdom. Over 5,000 events are held at the Southbank Centre each year including exhibitions, festivals & performances by some of the worlds most famous artists.
About the London Eye
At 135 metres tall the London Eye is the worlds largest cantilevered observation wheel. The London Eye was designed by Marks Barfield Architects & launched in 2000 as a temporary attraction. The London Eye has quickly become one of the most popular paid attractions in the world carrying over 3.5 million visitors each year. On a clear day visibility is up to 40km allowing views of Windsor Castle & the Queen Elizabeth II bridge at Dartford.
- See London from a unique perspective.
About County Hall
- Sea Life London Aquarium
- The London Dungeon
- Shrek’s Adventure!
- Namco Funscape Arcade
- Agatha Christie’s Witness For The Prosecution (performed in the County Hall Court Room)
About Cleopatra’s Needle
About OXO Tower Wharf
About Benjamin Franklin House
36 Craven Street is the only remaining home of the Benjamin Franklin, a famous scientist, diplomat & Founding Father of the United States. The house itself dates from around 1730 & is an authentic representation Benjamin Franklin’s time in London. Tours of Benjamin Franklin House are available for the public & there is also a small shop & toilet facilities onsite.
- Tour the only remaining home of Benjamin Franklin & the first de facto United States Embassy.
- Purchase souvenirs & gifts at the Benjamin Franklin House Shop.
About the Savoy Hotel
The Savoy Hotel was built by Richard D’Oyly Carte & opened in 1889. The Savoy proved popular with tourists & was the first hotel in Britain to utilise electric lifts & be lit entirely by electric lighting. The Savoy boasts numerous bars & restaurants & is adjacent to the Savoy Theatre.
About the Florence Nightingale Museum
Florence Nightingale was a pioneer of modern nursing & a social reformer, she became known as the Lady with the Lamp after her night rounds tending to wounded soldiers during the Crimean War. The Florence Nightingale Museum is situated at St. Thomas Hospital on the site of Florence Nightingale’s Training School & celebrates the life & work of Florence Nightingale through collections of over 3000 objects.
- Learn about Florence Nightingale’s life & achievements.
- Highlight Tours of the museums collections.
- Walking tours following in the footsteps of Florence Nightingale.
- Souvenirs available in the museum shop.
About the Banqueting House
The Banqueting House is the last remaining building from Whitehall Palace, home to a magnificent ceiling painted by Sir Peter Paul Rubens & the execution site of King Charles I. The building was designed by Inigo Jones in the Palladian style for King James I & was completed in 1622.
- One of the last remaining buildings from Henry VIII’s Whitehall Palace.
- The execution site of King Charles I.
- Peter Paul Rubens magnificent ceiling murals.
About the New Palace of Westminster
Known as the ‘Houses of Parliament’, the new palace was built between 1840-1870 after the original palace was damaged during a fire. The palace is the home of UK Parliament & the iconic Elizabeth Tower (known as Big Ben).
- Guided tours available in multiple languages.
- Self-guided tours with a multimedia guide.
- Tours with afternoon tea overlooking the River Thames.
- Special exhibitions in Westminster Hall.
- Special talks & guided tours.
- Refreshments available in the Jubilee cafe.
About Somerset House
Somerset House was designed by William Chambers & completed 1801. The house has been home to the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society, the General Register Office & the Inland Revenue. Today Somerset House is open to the public and regularly hosts concerts & other public events.
About Trafalgar Square
About the Household Cavalry Museum
About the National Gallery
The National Gallery was founded in 1824 & opened to the public on the 10th May of the same year. As the collection grew the gallery moved from a small building at 100 Pall Mall to the present building, a purpose built structure designed by William Wilkins. Both The National Gallery’s building & collection has grown over the years, Sir James Pennethorne, Sir Charles Barry & Sir John Taylor have all extended the building & over 2,600 paintings are now housed within the collection. Today the National Gallery is free to visit & they organise a range of exhibitions & events showcases works from the collection. The gallery also has a number of giftshops, a dining room & cafés.
About HQS Wellington
HQS Wellington is a Grimsby Class Sloop launched in 1934. She escorted convoys in the North Atlantic throughout the Second World War. She is now permanently moored on Victoria Embankment and is the livery hall of the Honorable Company of Master Mariners.
About St. Margaret’s Church
St. Margaret’s Church is dedicated to St. Margaret of Antioch & is the third church to stand on the site. The original St. Margaret’s Church was built by the Benedictine Monks of Westminster Abbey in the 11th Century. The Rule of St. Benedict required the monks to sing the Divine Office at set times each day. The creation of a smaller church next to the Abbey allowed the people of Westminster to worship without disturbing the monks.
The current St. Margaret’s Church was designed by Robert Stowell & work started in 1482. The church was finally consecrated on the 9th April 1523 & remains almost unchanged today. St. Margaret’s Church is now governed by the Dean and Chapter of Westminster & can be visited free of charge.
- Refreshments are available at Westminster Abbey’s Cellarium Café.
- Purchase souvenirs & gifts at the Westminster Abbey Shop.
About St. James Park
St. James Park is London’s oldest royal park & is surrounded by three royal palaces, the Palace of Westminster, St. James Palace & Buckingham Palace. In 1536 the royal court was based at the Palace of Westminster & King Henry VIII purchased land at St. James to build St. James Palace & a new deer park. After his accession to the throne in 1603 James I had the park drained, landscaped & filled with exotic animals including camels, crocodiles, birds & an elephant.
St. James Park underwent further alterations when Charles II opened it to the public & had it re-landscaped in a more formal style with a large canal. St. James Park saw another makeover in the 1820’s when the Prince Regent (later to become George IV) commissioned the architect & landscaper John Nash to give the park a more natural look. The canal was shaped into a lake & an iron bridge was built offering excellent views across the lake. The current bridge (The Blue Bridge) was built in 1957 & is the third bridge to span St. James Park Lake.
- Take in the view of Buckingham Palace, Horse Guards Parade & the London Eye from the Blue Bridge.
- Learn more about the park on a walking tour (available on select dates).
- See the parks resident pelicans at feeding time.
- Refreshments available at St. James Café.
About the National Portrait Gallery
About The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court was formally established on the 1st October 2009 & is the highest court in the United Kingdom. The court hears appeals for civil cases in the United Kingdom & criminal cases in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court sits in the Middlesex Guildhall, an art nouveau gothic style building designed by J. S Gibson & completed in 1913.
- Guided tours led by a member of the court staff.
- Permanent & temporary exhibitions on the lower ground floor.
- Refreshments available at the Supreme Court Café.
- Purchase souvenirs & gifts from the Supreme Court Shop.
About Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey was built by King Edward (later to become St. Edward the Confessor) on the site of a Benedictine Monastery on Thorn Ey (Thorn Island) in Westminster. King Edward’s Abbey was consecrated on the 28th December 1065 however Edward was unable to attend the consecration due to illness, he died just days later sparking a succession crisis which intimately led to the Norman Conquest of England. William the Conqueror was coronated King William I on Christmas Day in 1066 & every coronation has taken place at Westminster Abbey since.
King Edward’s abbey stood for over two centuries until King Henry III started to rebuild the abbey in a Gothic style. Henry’s abbey was consecrated on the 13th October 1269 & still stands today. Westminster Abbey is the resting place of 17 monarchs & a number of poets, musicians, scientists and politicians.
- Explore King Henry VII’s Lady Chapel.
- Visit the Queens Diamond Jubilee Galleries.
- Visit the college garden (open on select days each week).
- Refreshments are available at the Cellarium Café.
- Purchase souvenirs & gifts at the Westminster Abbey Shop.
About the Jewel Tower
The Jewel Tower is one of the last remaining structures from the Medieval Palace of Westminster. The Tower was built by Henry Yevele between 1365-1366 for King Edward III & originally served as a store for precious items including silver plate. After much of the medieval palace was destroyed by a fire in 1834 the Jewel Tower became a records office for the House of Lords. In 1869 it became a testing office for the Board of Trade Standards Department (More commonly known as Weights and Measures).
- One of the last remaining buildings from the Medieval Palace of Westminster.
- Light refreshments available at the Jewel Tower Cafe.
About the Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge links Bankside on the South Shore to the City of London on the North. The bridge opened in June 2000 & gained its nickname the “Wobbly Bridge” after an unexpected swaying motion caused it to close. After almost two years of modification the bridge re-opened.
About Shakespeare’s Globe
The Globe Theatre at Bankside is an authentic replica of a 16th century theatre. Shakespearean plays are regularly performed & guided tours of the theatre are also available. The Swan bar & restaurant at the Globe serves breakfast, lunch, dinner & a “Midsummer Nights Dream Afternoon Tea” inspired by the Characters of Shakespeare’s plays.
Sir John Soane’s Museum is situated in the Grade I listed home of the Regency architect Sir John Soane. Soane commissioned numerous buildings throughout his career including country homes, the Bank of England & Dulwich Picture Gallery. During his lifetime Soane amassed a vast collection of items including books, manuscripts, paintings, models, sculptures & the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I. Soane obtained an Act of Parliament bequeathing his home to the British Public. Today Sir John Soane’s Museum is free to visit & remains mostly unchanged since his death in 1837. Tours & trails are are available at the museum to guide visitors through the rooms & collections that have been curated by Sir John Soane himself.
Festival Pier Location
Festival Pier is part of Thames River Sightseeing’s Hop-On Hop-Off Route. Passengers can travel to Festival Pier, Bankside Pier, St. Katharine Pier & Westminster.
Passengers can also change at St. Katharine Pier & continue downriver to the Royal Borough of Greenwich & the Thames Barrier.