Illuminated River

The Illuminated River is a long-term LED light installation on a number of bridges spanning the Thames in central London. At sunset until 2am each night, nine bridges, from London Bridge upstream to Lambeth Bridge, light up, pulse and animate with various light-based graphics. Night time queuers for the Lying in State had their long wait enlivened by the animations which were various shades of appropriately royal purple, during the five nights of The Queue, but anyone can see the illuminations for themselves – just head to the River Thames in central London.

The project has produced a walking tour map with a circular route on it – although as all of the south bank, and most of the north bank, is already a walking path, it’s an easy one to follow. The map adds in nearby stations with good routes to the river, tourist attractions, and audio guide markers for an accompanying narrative.

Mapping London likes the simple aesthetic of the map, with green roads in green, the trail in pink, and the bridges themselves in black, on a grey Thames. The inclusion of sketch images of the many landmarks along the trail, and the bridges themselves, is a nice touch. The river usefully has a 90-degree bend on it in central London, so the map nicely fills a standard A4 sheet. Direct download link. There is fact another map, split into sections, designed for a walking tour.

The lights were installed from Summer 2019 onwards, the last one appearing in Spring last year. But you can in fact continue to more bridges further upstream – the Albert Bridge and Chelsea already have their own older-style illuminations, so are worth the extra walk.

Thames Clippers (“Uber Boat”) are also running a nightly tour of the bridges from a boat. They are taking place most days this month and are relatively good value (for a boat tour) – more details on the Illuminated River website.

Remember to visit at night, betwen sunset and 2am, as that is when the lights are on!


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