Head of the Charles 50th Race: Your Guide to the Action
This weekend, the Head of the Charles regatta will bring a higher-than average amount of buff athletes to the downtown Boston area. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the race, one of the country’s premier rowing events and a classic New England fall bucket list item. Racers start at the Boston University DeWolfe Boathouse and row for three miles, ending at Brighton’s Artesani Park. Learn what to look for if you decide to watch the event, and where to go to skip the crowds.
The Boston-Cambridge rowing community is celebrating the 50th anniversary Head of the Charles with many special events, including:
- Saturday, October 18, 6:00-9:30 p.m.: 50th Gala celebration – Rowing organizers, Olympic crew athletes, and others will address the greater rowing community over a dinner celebration at the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School Gymnasium. Tickets are sold individually, or an entire table of 10 can be reserved. Tables can be decorated with a team’s rowing colors upon request. Guests will receive souvenirs of the occasion.
- Saturday, October 18 and Sunday, October 19: Watch a screening of a 50th HOCR documentary film, which includes interviews with esteemed rowers, archival footage, and other exciting sneak peaks. The film will premiere at the 50th Gala Celebration, and will be available for purchase at HOCR merchandising tents.
- Saturday, October 18 and Sunday, October 19: Head of the Charles 50th History Exhibit, which is open to the public. The exhibit showcases photos, artifacts, and other HOCR memorabilia. The exhibit is located along the river near Hospitality Row.
The Boston community is also honoring the 50th anniversary of the Charles River race in its own spirit. Local shoe company New Balance has created a limited-edition HOCR 50th running shoe, which features the race’s icon, dates, and an image of a runner and includes yellow (a favorite crew color) as an accent color.
If You Go
Expect the 50th anniversary race to bring more crowds than usual to this year’s event. Racing occurs on both October 18 and 19 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The morning races feature less prestigious teams, and tend to draw less of a crowd. The best racers are slated for the end of the day, so the event is better attended at this time. You’ll find a full schedule online if you are rooting for a particular crew.
Avoid driving to the event at all costs, as roads are closed to accommodate event traffic. You’ll find both the Harvard Square and BU Central T stops provide close river access.
Many people like to watch from bridges that span the Charles, as these provide a unique birds’ eye perspective on the event. There are viewing spots on the Cambridge and Boston sides of the river. If you’re friends with anyone who belongs to a boathouse, you may be able to join him or her there and claim prime real estate for the regatta.
There are two paid access points that offer prime views and the chance to mingle with rowers: The Reunion Village accommodates family, friends, and alums and lies on the Boston side of the Charles (between the Weeks and Anderson bridges). The Eliot Bridge Enclosure abuts the Eliot Bridge and offers riverside viewing and dining.
Over 50 years, Head of the Charles has grown into the largest two-day regatta in the world and is a destination event for people from all over New England and beyond. If you’ve never been, this year’s celebration will be bigger than ever before and should definitely not be missed.