On October 19 and 20, some of the world’s best crew teams take the Charles River in an effort to prove their rowing chops.
It’s a grand event, with collegiate flair, food, fun and lots of cheering. For the city, the Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) is one of the biggest events of the year attracting over 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of spectators. The perfect mix of athleticism, cocktail party and outdoor fun.
Before, during and after: While you’re in town for the Regatta, fill out your day with one (or several) of these things to do at Head of the Charles.
Take in The Action
The main attraction of HOCR weekend is, of course, the race itself. As a general rule, bridges and boathouses are best for viewing.
If escaping crowds is your top priority — perhaps you’re attending with children and/or dogs — try watching from the BU Bridge, where the race starts. This is also a great spot for taking photos with the Boston skyline in the background.
But, if you’d rather be in the center of the action, watch from Reunion Village. This popular viewing spot will be crowded, but you’ll have a front row seat as the boaters fly by. It does cost $10 to get in. There’s also a dining tent, which features local eats, a beer garden and lively commentary of the race.
Explore Public Art on The Esplanade
For those not in-the-know, the Charles River Esplanade is a park area that runs along the Boston banks of the Charles River. There are playgrounds, running paths and public art.
In fact, The Esplanade Association just debuted three new art pieces to jazz up their often-vandalized pump houses, and they’re all by female artists. If you’re looking for something on a larger scale, swing by Silvia Lopez Chavez’s mural created in partnership with the Now + There public art organization. Hers was the first mural to be installed on the Esplanade.
Sample Up at Weld Exhibition
The Weld Exhibition is the Cambridge side of the river’s answer to the Reunion Village. It doesn’t include a dining tent, but vendors and official sponsors set up here. You’ll be well rewarded in free samples for doing a lap through the exhibition.
For those with kids or working with a budget, this is a fun, free activity.
Visit The Rowing & Fitness Expo
Let your inner sports nerd go wild at the Rowing and Fitness Expo, which shows off the latest and greatest in sports equipment and technology. You can browse 40-plus rowing-related product manufacturers, as well as wares from event sponsors like Brooks Brothers offering regatta merchandise.
Looking for a rowing class while you’re here? Try this.
Splurge at The Eliot Bridge Enclosure
If you want to watch in style, buy a VIP ticket to the Eliot Bridge Enclosure ($140 – $260 per ticket). You can enjoy a private seating area all weekend long, catered breakfast and a gourmet lunch from Ruth’s Chris Steak House, and an open bar. Plus, the limited seating guarantees fantastic, uninhibited views of the race. C’mon, you deserve it!
See A Concert
If you’re watching the race from the Double Tree Suites, situated right on the Regatta route, pop over to the legendary Sculler’s Jazz Club for a post-race concert. On October 19, Grammy award-winning singer Macy Gray croons the classics. There’s even a meet and greet with the famous vocalist after her show.
Get Historical Context
The Head of the Charles Regatta stems from a long history of boats and water sportsmanship worldwide. Get some historical context at the Peabody Museum (where there’s a woman in charge!) on the far side of Harvard’s campus in Harvard Square. It’s within walking distance from the race. There are a number of examples of boats throughout history and their uses to populations over the world.
Adjacent, at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, you can learn how climate change might affect the Charles River and, therefore, the Regatta, going forward.
Take A Boat Cruise
The Charles Riverboat Company runs a well-loved architecture cruise and continues to do so during the Regatta.
Cruises depart from the Charles River. You’ll get a brief peek at the festivities downriver, before heading into Boston Harbor to tour the skyline of Boston’s most famous buildings.
Sip on a glass of wine or a cocktail while learning the architectural secrets of the city. Tours are available October 19 at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.