Your guide to the Head of the Charles Regatta

Score a front “row” seat to the world’s largest two-day rowing competition this weekend.

A team of rowers work in tangent to race down the Charles River.

Over 11,000 athletes will compete in 55 different racing events over the course of the weekend.

You can score a free front row seat to one of Boston’s biggest sporting events this weekend — and no, we’re not talking about tickets to TD Garden or Fenway Park.

The Head of the Charles Regatta returns to Boston + Cambridge from Friday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 22, attracting 11,000+ athletes and countless visitors to the Charles River Esplanade. The local fall spectacle is the largest of its kind in the world.

Over the decades, the Head of the Charles has mushroomed from a one-day competition into a weekend packed with 55 race events. The first edition of the event dates back to 1965, when three Cambridge Boat Club members founded a traditional “head” race (read: a class of regattas that are usually ~3 miles long).

Today, the schedule is divided into categories based on factors such as competitors ages and gender. Races begin at Boston University’s DeWolfe Boathouse and finish 4702 meters down the Charles River at Herter Park (1175 Soldiers Field Rd.).

Here’s what you need to know before you witness this weekend’s crew-sades:

  • Consult the race schedule to learn which races align with your free time.
  • Limited parking is available at Harvard Stadium at Gate 14 for $30 per day. Spectators can also free find on-street parking on Birmingham Parkway every day before 6 p.m.
  • Guests can access either side of the Charles River via stops on the Red and Green Lines, as well as via buses 1, 47, 64, 66, 71, 72, 73, 74, 75, and 86.
  • Global rowing fans can tune in from afar through the official livestreams.

Pro tip: The regatta’s website outlines a variety of spots for spectators along the course of the race, so don’t go straight to the start or finish lines.

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