CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Thousands of athletes and spectators are expected to flock to the Boston area this weekend for the 2023 Head of the Charles Regatta, which officially kicks off Friday in Cambridge along the banks of the Charles River.
Since 1965, rowers have come from near and far to take part in the world’s largest regatta, but the fun isn’t limited to competitors. There are many ways for spectators to get involved in the weekend’s festivities.
According to the Cambridge Fire Department, more than 11,000 rowers and 400,000 spectators are expected over the 3-day race.
Spectators traveling to and from the Regatta are encouraged to use public transportation. Parking availability is limited for spectators and parts of Memorial Drive will be closed over race weekend.
Friday, Oct. 20
Saturday, Oct. 21
Sunday, Oct. 21
WHERE TO WATCH
Start Line at Boston University DeWolfe Boathouse
The DeWolfe boathouse is where the race begins. Spectators can watch crews queueing for the race start from the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path in front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel. For a view of the basin and the start line head to the Boston University Bridge.
Boston University Bridge & Grand Junction Railroad Bridge
Originally called the Cottage Farm Bridge, the BU Bridge was renamed for Boston University at its southern end when students lobbied state lawmakers in 1949. The BU Bridge is unique on the Course because it has a companion: the older Grand Junction Railroad Bridge cuts diagonally beneath, its steel sections tattooed with colorful graffiti. The red-and-white tag above the upstream travel arch receives an annual motivational update for Head Of The Charles racers from unknown members of the Boston collegiate rowing community. The BU Bridge is not the only bridge—as some claim incorrectly—but one of three known in the world where simultaneously a plane can fly over a car driving over a train chugging over a rower quietly, motorlessly, working the water.
SADL (Singles and Doubles Launch) at Magazine Beach
The Singles and Doubles Launch area is next to Riverside Boat Club and Magazine beach. Head here to watch the races for a quieter Regatta experience.
River Street Bridge
The River Street Bridge is the 2nd bridge along the race course and offers a clear view of the Powerhouse Stretch. The Stretch is a straight section of the river that starts at the top of Magazine Beach and ends just before the Weeks Footbridge.
Western Avenue Bridge
The Western Avenue Bridge is the 3rd bridge along the race course and offers a view of the end of the Powerhouse Stretch and boats heading into the infamous Weeks Footbridge turn.
The iconic 5th bridge along the race course is known to all rowers for its sharp 90-degree turn making it extremely difficult for crews to navigate especially if multiple crews are attempting passage. Viewing from the top of the bridge is one of the most popular spots at the Regatta.
Weld Exhibition at Riverbend Park
The Weld Exhibition venue is the most popular destination for food and beverage sampling and vending at the Regatta. Head here to picnic and watch the racing between the Weeks Footbridge and Anderson Bridge. The Weld Exhibition is a short 7-minute walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.
Whether you’re a spectator, a competitor, or simply in need of refreshment, be sure to check out the Reunion Village. The Village offers a fun and relaxed atmosphere located at the halfway point in the race on the Cambridge side of the Charles River. Everyone is welcome at the Village. Clubs, schools, alumni groups, parents, boosters and travel groups are all urged to visit! Admission is $10/day. 21+ can purchase alcohol.
The Anderson bridge is the 6th bridge on the race course next to Harvard’s Weld Boathouse.
The 7th and final bridge of the race course in front of Regatta headquarters at the Cambridge Boat Club.
Finish Line at Herter Park
The Finish Line at Herter Park concludes the 4702m race course and offers dramatic views of crews finishing the race. Be sure to check out the Finish Line bollards installed in 2016.
Accessible off of Soldiers Field Road heading East. Parking will be available for about 500 cars. The location is across from the FALS/Rowing and Fitness Expo area.
Available: Friday and Saturday (6 a.m. to 7 p.m.) and Sunday (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Free, on-street parking. The Parkway runs next to I-90 and is accessible from Market Street off of Soldiers Field Road or from Soldiers Field Road and Route 20 intersection near Community Rowing.
Available: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday – no parking after 6 p.m.
Alewife T Station
Accessible from Route 2 off of I-95. Garage with parking for 2,733 cars and Red Line T service to Harvard Square, a short walk to the river and the Weld Exhibition/Reunion Village area.
The Head of the Charles Regatta encourages spectators and athletes to use ridesharing apps as a mode of transportation to and from the event.
All those who are not arriving with boats on their cars are STRONGLY advised to use public transportation. The course is within easy walking distance of 3 MBTA stations (Central & Harvard on the RED line, and BU Central on the B Branch of the Green Line) and multiple bus routes travel near to the course (1, 47, 64, 66, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, 86). See www.mbta.com for detailed route and schedule information.
FALS – Mass Pike to exit 18 East. Exit 20 West, follow signs to Cambridge. Stay straight through several traffic lights and across the River Street Bridge. Once across the bridge, take a left onto Memorial Drive (there will be a Shell station and a Mobile station at the corners.) Stay on Memorial Drive for 1.6 miles at which point it will fork (near the Cambridge Boat Club.) Staying to the left, follow signs for Watertown/Newton. Proceed through the traffic light, and as you approach Eliot Bridge, follow signs for Boston/Newton. As you are crossing Eliot bridge stay to the right and an HOCR volunteer will meet your trailer and direct you to a parking space. It would be helpful to consult a parking map or course map to assist with directions.
SADL (Magazine Beach) – Same as above, expect go RIGHT onto Memorial Drive once you cross the River Street Bridge. Magazine Beach is located about 1/4 mile downstream of Riverside Boat Club, across from the large Shell sign.
Anticipated Road Closures
8 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- Memorial Drive from Cambridge Boat Club to Western Avenue (Saturday & Sunday)
For those who can’t make it to the event in person, there will be livestreams available here.
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