Head of Charles Regatta in Boston.

Head of the Charles Regatta 2024

OCTOBER 18-20, 2024
BOSTON, MA

THE SHORT VERSION

Join in on a decades-long Boston tradition: take the T to Hahvahd Yahd and watch the top crew teams in the world zoom by on the Chahles.

For one weekend each October, rowing teams from around the world descend to the banks of the Charles River to compete in what has become, in the sport, the most important racing competition of the year. Since 1965, the Head of the Charles Regatta has ballooned into a city-wide party, a chance for Bostonians and visitors to gather alongside the river to drink and make merry. Each year draws around 400,000 spectators. 

Boats will depart from the Boston University DeWolfe Boathouse starting at 7:45 a.m. Friday through Sunday; it’s up to you where to perch yourself, which events to spectate, and when to lose yourself in revelry. Lucky for you, you don’t need to row to participate in the festivities — you don’t even need a ticket. Watching is free. 

Consult the Head of the Charles Regatta schedule in advance to decide which races you most want to see. There are collegiate teams, under-17 teams, club teams for ages up to 80, and para-teams. If you’re willing to bear the crowds, you can cheer from one of a few hotspots where the rowing is at its most exciting: the Boston University Bridge has a view of the starting line; the River Street Bridge will give you a clear view of “Powerhouse Stretch” (the straight stretch of the river where boats can really fly); and at the Weeks Footbridge, the 5th bridge of the Regatta, you can watch rowers navigate the storied 90-degree turn. If you prefer a calmer viewing experience, you can picnic on Magazine Beach, beside the Riverside Boat Club.

Reunion Village, at the midway point of the race, has a tent where competitors, spectators, and alumni gather for snacks, live commentary on the races, a beer garden and riverside seating. One entry to Reunion Village is $15. Or, you can check out the Finish Area Launch Site Bar (FALS Bar), right at the finish line, where no entry fee is required. For non-ingestible entertainment, the Attager Row (“Attager” is Regatta backwards) has a Rowing & Fitness Expo where you can peruse products by vendors and sponsors, buy Regatta merch, and test out your crew skills on stationary rowing machines.

For our rowing diehards, it might be worth booking a table at one of the hospitality tents: the Eliot Bridge Enclosure, with views of the boats approaching the finish line, takes reservations for individuals or entire 30-person suites for private dining. A lunch buffet is included in the pricey ticket — as is an open bar. The Director’s Tent, which also has a buffet and an open bar, has private viewing boxes for up to 50 people. You can book those for one day, or for the full weekend. 

The Specs

  • Around 400,000 spectators attend the Regatta each year.
  • You don’t need a ticket to camp out and watch the boats go by, but you can reserve tables at the Eliot Bridge Enclosure for $305, or at the Directors’ Tent (tickets not yet available).
  • Between races, take advantage of all Boston has to offer with our top Boston recs.

FAQs

What is the closest airport to the Head of the Charles Regatta?

Boston Logan International Airport is 10 miles from the starting point of the Regatta.

Is there parking nearby?

Parking will be extremely limited, and several main roads will be closed; your best bet is to take the T to Central & Harvard or the BU Station. There is a parking lot that fits 500 cars at Harvard Stadium for $30 per day.

Can I buy food and drinks there?

Boston food favorites will be available for purchase at the Weld Exhibition. But you can also bring your own food while you camp out and spectate.

How much is the T?

One subway ride in Boston costs $2.40, payable in cash or with a CharlieCard. Check out more info on Boston’s public transit system here.

Who will race at the Head of the Charles Regatta?

The list of competing teams has not been released at the time of writing.

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BY Sara Luzuriaga