Where to watch the 2017 Boat Races

There are plenty of great vantage points along the 6.8km Boat Races course; here is our guide to some of the best places to catch the action

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(Naomi Baker)

The Universities of Oxford and Cambridge face off on 2 April along the Championship Course for the Cancer Research UK Boat Races. Thousands of people are expected to flock to the River Thames to watch both the men’s and women’s races, each vying for prime real estate on the river path and bridges.

Beat the crowds by following our handy guide to the best places to watch the races go by.

Cancer Research UK Boat Races 2017 dates and details

Date: Sunday, 2 April 2017
Time: 4.35pm (Women’s) & 5.35pm (Men’s)
Start line: Putney Bridge
Finish line: Chiswick Bridge
Distance: 6.8km
TV: BBC

Fan zones

If you can’t face the hustle and bustle of the river bank, why not head to one of the Boat Races’ official fan zones in riverside parks. Bishop’s Park, Fulham, and Furnivall Gardens, Hammersmith, will be open from midday on 2 April, with big screens showing all of the action. Bishop’s Park is focusing on fun for all the family, with children’s rides and sporting activities, with food and drink available on site.

Along the river

Putney Bridge

Get the best views of the start from Putney Bridge, where you’ll be able to see the crews disappear round the Fulham bend, before heading to Bishop’s Park to watch the rest on TV.

Putney Embankment

There are plenty of rowing clubs along this stretch of the river, many of which will be offering tickets on the door. The path runs right up to Hammersmith Bridge, although you may have your view obscured by a couple of bushes…

Fulham Reach

Just before Hammersmith Bridge you’ll find Fulham Reach BC, with plenty of space on the Thames Path for spectators. The Blue Boat pub next door is on hand to offer refreshments while you watch the boats power by.

Chiswick Pier

Could this stretch of the course be where the decisive move is made? Locate yourself here on Boat Race day and you’ll get a great view of the course and possibly see where one of the crews really puts the hammer down.

Pick of the pubs

There are dozens of pubs within shouting distance of the river along the route, each of which will be welcoming spectators throughout the afternoon.

Star and Garter (map)

For the best view of the coin tosses and the start of each race, the Star and Garter next to Putney Pier is about as close as you’ll get. The bar overlooks the river and even has its very own walk-in cheese room, in case you get peckish while you wait.

Duke’s Head (map)

You don’t have to walk far from the Star and Garter to get to the Duke’s Head, which has a sizeable outdoor area. The Duke has a party planned once the races finish, with ‘live music and good spirit’, which sounds great.

The Crabtree (map)

Cross the river and wander along the Thames Path from Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage and you will find The Crabtree. The pub describes itself as being on the ‘quietest and most picturesque stretch of the Thames’, although expect it to be a little noisier on the day.

The Blue Anchor/Rutland Arms (map)

Both excellent establishments in their own right, the Blue Anchor and Rutland Arms are right next to each other on Lower Mall, just past Hammersmith Bridge. Outside tables right on the riverside will ensure that this stretch of the Thames will be bustling all afternoon.

The Old Ship (map)

Another characterful pub right by the water, the Old Ship really is old – dating back to 1722. It boasts – in their own words – ‘the longest (and best) possible view’ of the Boat Races.

The Bull’s Head (map)

This pub-cum-jazz bar is a bit further down the river, near Barnes Bridge towards the end of the race course. Unlike the other pubs, it’s not quite on the river, but it’s sure to be lively inside, with the race shown on screens around the pub. You’ll even have time to run down to the water to watch the crews go by as well.

Ship (map)

Get the best seat in the house for the finish line at the Ship just down the Thames Bank from Chiswick Bridge. You may even get the chance to call a photo finish.