In photos: magical moments from Join the Docks

Art & Culture

In photos: magical moments from Join the Docks

Floating fireworks and free swimming classes. Sandcastles and silent discos. International art installations and DIY digital selfies. Old and new, famous and undiscovered, on the water and beside it, this summer our Join the Docks festival celebrated the Royal Docks from end to end.

Now that the festival has drawn to a close, here’s a look back at some favourite moments. The programme saw everything from lantern-making to aerial circus. There was even a human Catherine wheel or two. It was a real celebration of the creativity and community in the area.

EFG London Jazz Festival's summer stage

Although the London Jazz Festival has been running for 27 years, this year was the first time there has been an outdoor event as part of the celebrations. Hosted at RAD, the event was free to attend and gave everyone a taster of one of London’s most celebrated music festivals.

The Certain Blacks Ensemble Festival brought a blend of undiscovered and world-class talent to the Crystal gardens, while Emergency Exit Arts' Wishful lit up the Millennium Mills with fireworks.

A large crowd watching a band performing on a stage

Jazz festival first

Royal Albert Dock hosted the London Jazz Festival on the spacious dockside. Photos: Stephen Wright.

A child taking a photograph with a mobile phone Three young performers playing the violin on stage

Ferry Tales and the Ferry Festival

Water-themed events made quite a splash during the festival. Ferry Tales dipped into a fictional world of water with creative workshops and stories of murky waters, river treasures and mermaids. August's Ferry Festival has its roots in the 1970s, when Silvertown and North Woolwich came together for pram races and a good old tug of war. This year was the third annual revival and it included a maritime-themed fancy dress race. Long may the tradition continue.

Communities coming together

The Ferry Festival tradition is a day out "by the people and for the people". Photos: Zach Ekpe

Kids Summer Splash

So many of the events during Join the Docks welcomed children and families as well as grown-ups, and at the heart of the programme was Kids Summer Splash. With two pools and free open-water swimming lessons for kids, the space to splash transformed Royal Victoria Dock. Sandcastles and beach games were very much the order of the day.

Sun is for splashing

As well as a paddling pool, Kids Summer Splash offered a lido and free open-water swimming lessons for children. Photos: Oliver Rudkin.

The Ship of Tolerance

The Ship of Tolerance dropped anchor in the Royal Victoria Dock as part of Totally Thames. Created by artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, the ship’s patchwork sail resembled stained glass in the sun — decorated by Newham schoolchildren. At night, it transformed into a vivid light installation. The Ship began its journey in Egypt in 2005 and has travelled all over the world, visiting Moscow, Havana, and Miami before arriving in the Royal Docks. Every time the installation is different, because the sails are created from scratch by local children, aiming to promote tolerance and connect different cultures through creativity.

The Ship of Tolerance on the water at the Royal Docks

Children are the future

Artist Emilia Kabakov has faith in the younger generation. Photo: Tian Khee Siong.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

There were several adaptations of Shakespeare’s enchanting fairytale classic in London this summer, such is the popularity of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The Join the Docks performance took place against the backdrop of Thames Barrier Park, an enchanting setting for romance and mischievous fairies.

Enchanted garden

Wherefore Theatre transformed Thames Barrier Park into a waving green stage. Photos: Stephen Wright.

Guru Dudu Silent Disco

After selling out their season at the Edinburgh Fringe, Guru Dudu took to the streets of the Royal Docks for a walking dance adventure. Didn’t hear anything? That’s because the disco was silent – it was headphones only for these exploring revellers.

Attendees enjoying the silent disco along the docks

Like no one's watching

Guru Dudu's free spirited silent disco had people dancing all down the docks. Photos: Stephen Wright.

And the best of the rest? Local artist Matt Ponting got everyone doodling, the Museum of London Docklands put on a brilliant day of docks history and Voices of the Docks brought the stories of past into the present. Our closing ceremony Wishful ensured that the Join the Docks festival really went out with a bang. We’re already excited about the programme for winter festival, so make sure you watch this space.