The annual Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race is just around the corner, scheduled for Saturday 30 March 2024. With an estimated 250,000 people watching from the banks in 2017 and a peak audience of 2.63 million for the TV broadcast in 2023, it’s always a popular affair, and not to be missed in 2024 (hopefully, the sun will join spectators in London, too). But where to watch the Boat Race from? A crucial question, as is ‘to pub, or to park?’. Here are our favourite spots to watch the boats go by.
Where To Watch The Boat Race 2024
On The BBC
The Boat Race will be aired live on BBC 1, BBC Sport Live and BBC iPlayer from 2–4.30 pm on Saturday 30 March 2024, with the women’s race scheduled to begin at 2.46 pm followed by the men’s at 3.46 pm. Tune in to see a comprehensive explanation of all of the teams and watch their journey to the fateful day via pre-filmed videos.
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This is the course’s start line, with a bird’s eye view of the boats as they make their splashy start – the perfect spot if you like a touch of drama. Note that the bridge fills up very fast, so this one’s for the early birds.
Filling up even faster than Putney Bridge is Barnes Bridge – AKA, basically the finish line. Venture here to be the first to see the winner cross the finish line.
While Hammersmith Bridge will, once again, be closed to spectators, leafy Hammersmith has plenty of riverside spots and walking trails to watch the action from. This is a crucial point in the race, just ahead of the bend, when one crew starts to pull ahead of the other. The Thames Reach, in particular, is a path on the north bank, just south of the bridge – a vast stretch of viewing space.
While Barnes Bridge is basically the finish line, there’s actually a few more minutes of rowing after the landmark, taking the rowers to the real finish line in Mortlake. Spectators can venture to the bank to glimpse those final crucial minutes and the rowers celebrating their win as they paddle just beyond Chiswick Bridge – but make sure to bring your wellies! Or try Dukes Meadows for a drier experience.
If you don’t make it to Putney Bridge in time, join the herds of spectators watching from Putney Embankment, where the tow path has a great view of the race’s early action.
Across the river, try Fulham’s official Fan Park, Bishop’s Park, where visitors can expect street food, English sparkling wine from Chapel Down and beer from Shepherd Neame as well as big screens streaming the BBC coverage, covered areas, seating, toilets and prime riverside views right at the start of the race, but note that bringing your own alcohol is not allowed.
Or try Hammersmith’s Fan Park, Furnivall Gardens, for big screens and BYOB galore complete with toilets, street food, and more beer from Shepherd Neame.
If a lovely pub is more your speed, here are our top riverside picks…
The Best Pubs To Watch The Boat Race
The Blue Anchor
Situated about a third of the way through the course, just after Hammersmith Bridge, The Blue Anchor is a buzzy pub that you might recognise from Sliding Doors (1998). Make like Gwyneth Paltrow and celebrate the drama with this ideal riverside view.
Details: 13 Lower Mall, London W6 9DJ. blueanchorlondon.com
The Old Ship
This Hammersmith stalwart has a covered terrace, perfect for watching the action amid March’s fickle weather. Afterwards, enjoy a tasty burger or a tasty roast.
Details: 25 Upper Mall, London W6 9TD. oldshipw6.co.uk
Rick Stein Barnes
Or if dining is more your thing, head to Rick Stein Barnes where a limited edition Boat Race Celebration menu is usually served to coincide with the action. Situated on the banks of the River Thames at the last half mile of the race, expect a great vantage point accompanied by a delicious taste of Cornwall and a glass of French sparkling wine.
Details: Tideway Yard, 125 Mortlake High Street, London SW14 8SW. rickstein.com
The Duke’s Head
Eat and drink your way through the action at Putney’s most famous pub, a grand Victorian Grade II listed building that has overlooked the River Thames for almost as long as Oxford and Cambridge’s rowers have been competing. Perched right by the start line, this is the perfect place to spot those first crucial minutes of rowing.
Details: 8 Lower Richmond Road SW15 1JN. dukesheadputney.co.uk
White Hart Barnes
Bag a seat on White Hart Barnes’ Morley Room private balcony for some of the Boat Race’s best views. Meanwhile inside, a four-course banquet brimming with seasonal British delights awaits.
Details: The Terrace, Riverside, London SW13 0NR. whitehartbarnes.co.uk
The clue’s in the name: this waterfront pub has the large deck terrace overlooking Putney Bridge, right at the start of the race course. Watch the race with a beer in hand, before heading inside and tucking into a rare Saturday roast, well-deserved after all that cheering.
Details: 32 Brewhouse Lane, London SW15 2JX. boathouseputney.co.uk
The Bull’s Head
The Bull’s Head’s private Melrose Room usually streams the Boat Race, accompanied by a canapé and fizz celebration. Expect unlimited canapés from 3–4pm, plus a complimentary glass of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine.
Details: 373 Lonsdale Road SW13 9PY. Tickets from £50 per person. thebullsheadbarnes.com
Featured image: Image of Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race 2015, illustrating the Oxford Reserve VII (Isis) celebrating after the finish. Pointillist, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (cropped).