Head of the Charles Regatta

The Boston area is known for its world-class sporting events like the Boston Marathon, which brings hundreds of thousands of people to the area every April. But there’s another event that takes place in our neck of the woods that is actually just as prestigious as the marathon, and (pun alert) a boatload of fun to watch! It’s the largest 2-day regatta in the world, and it’s known as The Head of the Charles. 

Taking place the second to last weekend in October, the Head of the Charles regatta began in 1965, when a few Cambridge Boat Club members decided a regatta might help break up the monotony of training season. Guess they were onto something. Over 50 years later, the event has grown to involve over 11,000 athletes, 1,900 boats, 50 heats, and 300,000 spectators to the shores of the Charles River. If you’ve never been, put it on your list for this fall! Here are five things to know before you go:

  1. THE RACE: The HOCR course is three miles long, stretching from BU’s DeWolfe Boathouse to just after Harvard’s Eliot Bridge. It takes about an hour to walk. Boats leave the start every 15 seconds in a sequence based on past year’s speeds, plus other random factors. Heats start up at 7:45 (that’s AM) to 4:45 PM Saturday and 7:45 AM to 3:54 PM Sunday (all times subject to change, of course). Check out Boston Magazine’s excellent viewers’ guide for a mile-by-mile breakdown of exciting highlights to look for.

  1. BEST PLACES TO WATCH: The regatta takes place under six bridges – the BU, River Street, Western Avenue, Weeks, Anderson, and Eliot -- and all are considered prime viewing spots with quite the unobstructed perch. But get there early! If you don’t mind paying for a somewhat cushier spot, the Reunion Village and Eliot Street Enclosure are ticketed spectator spots with food and drink. More info at the official event site.
  2. HOW TO GET THERE: If you’ve ever tried parking in Harvard Square, ever, just imagine 300,000 of you trying. Got the visual? Take the T or bike to the square, period end of story, and you’re welcome.
  3. WHERE TO GRAB A BITE: The best race route food can be found in Harvard Square itself; for coffee and a muffin or more substantial picnic eats, head to flour Bakery and CaféCrema Café, or Wholesome Fresh market at the corner of Church and Brattle Streets.
  4. WHERE TO STAY: For ease and convenience, you can’t beat Marriott’s Residence Inn on Arsenal Street. It’s new to the area, with all the conveniences of a Residence Inn, plus they have free shuttle buses to Harvard Square!

 Have fun, and make sure to tag us @eastendwatertown when you post those pics!