At the Docks: a brand-new season of creativity, sustainability and fun at London’s waterside destination
The Royal Docks Team announces At the Docks, a brand-new season of arts, culture and events taking over the area from 11 May – September 2023. Over three months of world-class art and music, international sporting fixtures, cutting-edge performances, pioneering research, a floating hotel and family fun, and some of the most exciting creative names of the day, all showcase the area’s heritage, culture and creativity, and its unmissable waterside destination. All season information can be found at www.royaldocks.london/atthedocks
Just fifteen minutes from central London and accessible by tube, rail, river bus and cable car, the Royal Docks is fast becoming London's new Cultural Engine. It is the proud home of City Hall, as well as a growing and vibrant community of artists and creative industries, some of London’s most interesting venues including a huge new open-air music venue, and the capital’s biggest watersports offering. At the Docks will reflect the area’s potential to inspire creativity, sustainability and community, spanning 12 miles of waterfront and more than 250 acres of open water, incorporating Royal Albert Dock, Royal Victoria Dock, Thames Barrier Park and Royal Victoria Gardens.
At the Docks’ focus on sustainability is headlined by Sea Change (11-29 May), commissioned and produced by the Royal Docks Team in collaboration with University College London (UCL) – one of the world's leading universities – and curated by Invisible Dust. Sea Change brings global artists together with leading UCL academics inspired by research into sustainable responses to the current climate emergency. New artworks have been commissioned for Sea Change from four international artists: Simon Faithfull explores our understanding of habitats by turning his own body into a pair of 3D-printed sculptures, adapted for other species to reside within; Dana Olărescu’s exploration of energy equity, working with local people, takes the form of a striking temporary installation in Thames Barrier Park; Melanie Manchot, an East London-based visual artist inspired by histories of local protests for equality has filmed a cross-generational group of women residents on a ‘flotilla’ of boats on the night-time waters of the Royal Docks; and Raqs Media Collective from New Delhi create an augmented reality wave, superimposed upon live video footage of the still waters of the docks.
Forecast 2023, an international hybrid symposium at City Hall on 19 May, will feature writers, artists, scientists and cultural commentators to explore the nature of the stories we tell and how they help shape our planet’s future. Some of the early names confirmed include artists Gavin Turk, Melanie Manchot, Julie Freeman, Jeremy Deller, Raqs Media Collective, author Amy Jeffs, and Wangechi Ngugi and Daniel Muchina from Art & Science Films Afrika (ASFA), with more to be announced.
Also part of Sea Change, the UK’s first zero-waste theatre venue, The Greenhouse Theatre, will be welcoming visitors to Thames Barrier Park from 11 May – 04 June for a pop-up residency hosting Sea Change commissions, talks and workshops, activity packs, and a picnic area. The full Sea Change programme will be announced in the coming weeks.
At the Docks is a brilliant showcase of what this fascinating part of London has to offer
Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries
Eclectic and boundary pushing Music, Arts & Culture is also on offer and includes public art trail The Line, Newham Heritage Month bringing the borough’s extraordinary creative heritage to life through an exciting lineup of creative community projects, Ensemble Festival delivering a mix of free circus, dance, and street performances, everything from drag cabaret to East African music nights at the Royal Docks’ newest cocktail bar and event space Social Convention, the return of award-winning Greenwich+Docklands International Festival – one of the UK’s leading free outdoor arts festivals with an exciting programme yet to be revealed – and a rich cultural programme of exhibitions, installations, workshops and events as part of London Festival of Architecture 2023.
The Royal Docks also shows off its impressive cultural capital with two of London’s newest venues, opened recently in the Royal Docks by the award-winning team at Broadwick Live. With 55,000 square feet of raw industrial space, The Beams are hosting Thin Air, an exhibition of light, atmospherics, sound and experimental new media exploring the boundaries between art and technology (until 4 June). And Silverworks Island, the new 400,000 square foot open-air venue at the water’s edge, will be presenting a series of events with an amazing line up of festivals and live music events featuring the likes of Armin van Buren, Chase and Status, and more.
Families are spoilt for choice with a range of free family activities responding to the theme of sustainability, including the return of the ever-popular Royal Docks Summer Splash in August, which sees a large lido built out onto Royal Victoria Dock where visitors can cool down in the warmer weather. In addition, ABB FIA Formula E World Championship returns to the Royal Docks for the 2023 Hankook London E-Prix (29 & 30 July) as well as the 2023 London Triathlon (6 August), showcasing pioneering, future-proof technology and sustainable sports.
Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, welcomes the new season: “At the Docks is a brilliant showcase of what this fascinating part of London has to offer, with international artists, grassroots talent, major sporting events, music festivals and everything in between. Just 15 minutes from the West End, and with many artists’ studios and production facilities, the Royal Docks is fast becoming an exciting new destination for culture in the capital. Culture and community will come together, helping us to build a better London for everyone.”
Rokhsana Fiaz, Mayor of Newham, commends the programme’s drive towards sustainability: “It is fantastic to have At the Docks celebrating this special part of the borough. The focus on sustainability will act as a driver of conversation, engaging with our diverse communities to look to a more equitable, collaborative and sustainable future. These are the biggest and most important issues of the day, and we want to use the enviable and unparalleled Royal Docks setting to bring people together in a spirit of creativity and celebration to see how we can make a positive change for generations now and in the future.”
All At the Docks information including ticketing can be found at www.royaldocks.london/atthedocks. Further programming to be announced in the coming weeks.
Stories from around the docks
Heritage and history
Embrace the chill: how to enjoy the water in winter
Winter is approaching, the clocks have gone back and the temperature is dropping. While it’s a wrap for the Royal Docks packed programme of summer activities and the days of deckchair dozing may feel like a distant memory, there are still many ways to enjoy the water during the colder months.