This year in the Royal Docks: 2019 in photos

Art & Culture

This year in the Royal Docks: 2019 in photos

It’s been quite the year. You might have spotted our branded milk float delivering the Royal Docks’ consultation programme, or joined the crowds at RAD for world-class jazz, or taken a seat on one of five playful new benches.

London’s most important regeneration project is happening right here in Newham in the Royal Docks — and 2019 was the year when the improvements to come became more visible than ever before. Catch up on our regeneration news section for the full story. Meanwhile, here are some highlights.


Workshops from the finale of our summer festival, Join the Docks. Photos: Stephen Wright.

‘Join the Docks’ brought three months of sand, splashing, and stand-out performances

The summer’s Join the Docks festival was a celebration of everything that makes this place special: water, magical green spaces like Thames Barrier Park, iconic buildings, communities old and new. Stand-out events of the season were the Certain Blacks Ensemble Festival, A Midsummer Night's Dream, oral history walks by Voices of the Docks, and a chance to peek inside Millennium Mills.

Over in Royal Victoria, Kids Summer Splash was a big draw for families. London’s largest urban beach provided a free family day out for both Newham residents and Londoners visiting from further afield, with tens of thousands of visitors.

And even the rain couldn't keep the crowds from Wishful, the Join the Docks finale. Inspired by the Thai festival of Loi Krathong, it was a beautiful celebration of water and light. With dramatic performances, workshops from Rosetta Arts and pyrotechnics by Emergency Exit Arts, it was a spectacular ending to the summer festival.

Kids Summer Splash

Summer is for splashing, in the Royal Docks’ free padding pool. Photos: Stephen Wright.

Nearly 2,000 people got involved in the Royal Docks’ future

What would you like to see change about this area in the next ten years? Our consultation about the Royal Docks’ future launched in July. People who live, work and study here had their say over the course of 15 pop-up events, eight Community Fund and focus sessions, and hundreds of online comments. Watch this space for the next steps, and there will be more chances to share your views in the new year.

Join the Conversation

A huge thank you to everyone who shared their time to have a say about the Royal Docks’ future.

Our public art programme began with four strong statements

In September, the Making Space murals were unveiled in four different locations around the Royal Docks. The thought-provoking text pieces by Jessie Brennan were each the result of time she spent with a different local community group, and their input led each work to its final iteration. This is only the beginning; over the coming years, an ambitious public art programme will evolve the Royal Docks into a world-class art park.

Making Space

Have you spotted any of these murals by artist Jessie Brennan? Photos: Thierry Bal and Stephen Wright.

The London Festival of Architecture brought over 30 events — and five benches

In June, the Royal Docks partnered as an official hub for London Festival of Architecture. We also launched a design competition, Pews and Perches, which asked emerging architects and designers to design a brand new bench for the Royal Docks area. The five winning entries drew inspiration from buoys, the maritime alphabet and even ventilation ducts, and were installed in November.

Places to perch

Five new benches have been installed in collaboration with the London Festival of Architecture. Photos: Luke O'Donovan.

We hosted Homes for Londoners, and celebrated homes in progress

The Royal Docks Team was delighted to host this year’s Homes for Londoners conference here in the Crystal Building in October. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan told the audience, “My challenge to homebuilders is not to lose sight of their social responsibilities, and to redouble their efforts to provide the homes Londoners genuinely need.” A few weeks earlier, the Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz had celebrated the topping out of Brunel Street Works, which will provide 172 socially rented homes.

Rokhsana Fiaz

The Mayor of Newham adds the final bricks to new homes at Brunel Street Works.

The EFG London Jazz Festival filled spaces with world-class sound

Music played a huge part in the Royal Docks events this year, jazz in particular. The EFG London Jazz Festival’s events during Join the Docks saw global artists takes to the stage at RAD alongside British music talent. They came back later in the year for the Royal Docks Weekender, a special festival-within-a-festival that took over The Good Hotel, the Silver Building, Compressor House, and The Crystal.

All that jazz

The EFG London Jazz Festival outdoor stage was the first in the festival’s history. Photos: Stephen Wright.

Dock the Halls brought festive film and fun

Our winter festival, Dock the Halls, has been packed full of music, crafts and film. We’ve enjoyed a huge variety of film screenings at destinations across the Royal Docks, but the real highlight was the workshops and music accompanying each screening. From finger puppet-making and bauble painting, to slime-making workshops and musical performances, Christmas spirit has been well and truly alive in the Royal Docks.

Gift box workshop

Asta Community Hub hosts a screening of Arthur Christmas.

What's coming for 2020?

There are already some excellent events in the works in the Royal Docks for 2020. The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race teams will be crossing Royal Albert Dock’s finish line in August. The annual Dock2Dock swim race has a new date in September and we've got a whole host of cultural events in the pipeline. Formula E racing takes to the streets at ExCeL London, and The Crystal will open New London Architecture’s exhibition all about the area.

Stay tuned and sign up to our newsletter for all of the details.

Clipper Yacht Race

Royal Albert Dock will be the finishing point for the final leg of this global adventure.