Festival of Chatham Reach

In partnership with Sun Pier House and Tiller and Wheel, this festival with a country fayre atmosphere will focus on the heritage of the river and vessels.

A country fayre atmosphere, with a focus on the heritage of the river and river vessels, we’ll be remembering the history of Sun Pier as a hub of river life coinciding with the second weekend of Heritage Open Days.

Activities & Celebrations

Located alongside and on Sun Pier in Chatham - currently the only available public river access point in Medway - we will celebrate with historic vessels open to explore, free have-a-go stalls, history walks, and interactive activities to entertain and educate all ages.

Credit: Rikard Osterlund

Credit: Heather Burgess

More activities that will be taking place include:

  • Steam Tug Barking offering free ship tours
  • Free sailing trips on board Sailing Barge Edith May
  • Sailing Barge Blue Mermaid offering free tours and demonstrations
  • A Whitstable Oyster Smack attending on display
  • Jetstream Tours attending with ‘Jacob Marley’, running short river excursions
  • Free history walks, covering the wharfs and west end of Chatham High Street
  • Live music throughout the day, including sea shanties and folk music
  • Have-a-go activities for all to try and learn about river vessels
  • Demonstrations of traditional river skills
  • Costumed characters
  • An arts market, local produce and food stalls
  • Exhibitions inside The Riverside Gallery at Sun Pier House, inspired by local history
  • Drop in family friendly art workshops
  • Traditional carnival games for all ages
Ticketed Activities 

Chatham’s West End History Walk:
On this walk you’ll learn about the Empire Theatre, Theatre Royal, the Great Fires of Chatham, Sun Pier and the river industries of Chatham Intra.
Taking place at 10:30am and 2:30pm each day, book your free place.

River trips on Sailing Barge Edith May:
Free 90-minute sailing experience on board a traditional Thames sailing barge.
Booking link coming soon!


In the days leading up to the festival a free sail will take place offering community groups and organisations who would never usually experience life on the river the chance to take the helm and have a go at steering the ship. Haul a sail, wind a winch, learn the history of the area and enjoy the peace of being on the river, all under sail on a 115-year wooden sailing barge (pre booking required).

Seeing Medway from the river is without doubt its most beautiful viewpoint. These sailings will need to be booked in advance.


Stall holders

Tiller & Wheel are looking for artists and food and drink producers to join the Makers Market at this event, in particular the following:

  • fish and chip vendor
  • sea food stall
  • tea tent/ drinks provider
  • local crafts, such as candles, honey, cheese, chutneys.

Indoor and outdoor pitches available, £40 a day or £60 for the weekend. For more details, please contact [email protected] or phone 01634 401 549. 



We are 10 minutes walk from Chatham Train Station, 5 minutes from Chatham Bus Station and the nearest public car park is Sir John Hawkins located on Waterfront Way, Chatham ME4 4JL.


Keeping you safe

Keeping our staff and visitors safe is paramount. Therefore we have ensured our events adhere to the current government advice, including regular enhanced cleaning. However, we ask you take notice of the following:

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please do not come to the event and take a PCR test immediately,
  • As this event is outside, face coverings are optional, however please respect those wearing them,
  • Wash your hands regularly - hand sanitiser stations will be available.


This event is organised by Medway Council in partnership with Sun Pier House and Tiller and Wheel.

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Sun Pier and River Medway
Sun Pier
Medway Street


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Entry Price

Free admission.
Sailing barge experiences need to be pre-booked.