Get us in your inbox

head of the charles boston
Photograph: Courtesy J.Q. Louise

Head of the Charles Regatta 2023 in Boston: everything you need to know

Boston's biggest weekend on the Charles River is here.

JQ Louise
Tanya Edwards
Edited by
JQ Louise
Written by
Tanya Edwards

The 2023 Head of the Charles Regatta (HOCR) is this weekend, and whether rowing runs in your blood, or you just love a spectacle, this is a Boston sporting event you won’t want to miss. Founded in 1965 by several Cambridge Boat Club members who thought that a fall regatta would be an entertaining way to break up the monotony of the training season for colleges and boat clubs in the area, the HOCR has grown to be the largest three-day regatta in the world, with 11,000 rowers in more than 1,900 boats competing in more than 60 separate events.

When is the Head of the Charles Regatta? 

The races run from Friday, October 20th to Sunday, October 22nd. The first race kicks off at 7:45 am on Friday, featuring the Men’s Senior-Veteran/Grand Veteran Singles [70+, 80+]. Racing Friday will wrap up around 11am. On Saturday and Sunday, look for another early start time of 7:45am, with races ending around 4:30pm.

You can find more detailed scheduling on the HCOR website.

The highest-profile, and possibly most exciting races happen later in the day on Sunday, during the championship fours and the championship eights. Those races will see competitors taking to the water at 1:21 p.m. and 1:35 p.m. for the men's and women's championship fours (respectively) and at 1:57 p.m. and 2:32 p.m. for the men's and women's championship eights.

How can you watch the Head of the Charles Regatta?

The six bridges over the course offer the best spots to see the races and fans will line the banks on both sides of the river. You can also head to Riverbend Park to watch the racing between the Weeks Footbridge and the Anderson Bridge, or purchase tickets to areas like Reunion Village or the Eliot Bridge Enclosure, which feature food, drinks and shopping. This year sees the addition of the FALS (Finish Area Launch Site)  bar, which doesn’t require tickets, but does serve drinks right near the race finish for anyone over 21. 

For the best, high energy crowds, try BU Bridge, Weeks Footbridge (which is the riskiest part of the race), Eliot Bridge or the Finish Line at Herter Park. For great views of the competitors themselves, head to one of the bridges between Storrow Drive and Memorial Drive.

How long is the race on the Charles? 

The Head of the Charles course starts at the Boston University DeWolfe Boathouse, near the Charles River Basin, and finishes past the Eliot Bridge, just before Northeastern University's Henderson Boathouse. It is a three-mile race.

Where should I go for drinks and food during the Head of the Charles?

Check out our guides to the best restaurants in the Back Bay and the best restaurants in Cambridge for the best places to grab a drink or some dinner during the race weekend. 

You may also like
You may also like