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Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta

The largest collegiate regatta in the United States

Dad Vail Regatta

Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill Credit: By R. Kennedy for Visit Philadelphia


May 8-9, 2015
7 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Thousands of athletes from more than 125 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada compete in the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate regatta in the nation and a Philadelphia tradition.

The two-day race is held on the Schuylkill River in beautiful Fairmount Park, one of the most famous and scenic rowing routes in the world. The event has attracted competitors and their families for generations, so expect crowds of more than 10,000 spectators.

The Dad Vail races take place on a six-lane, Olympic-length course. They begin just north of where Kelly Drive intersects Hunting Park Avenue, and end 2,000 meters later at the Grand Stand, just above the Columbia Avenue Bridge.

In between races, spectators can meet the athletes at Rowers Village, browse rowing-related shops or grab a bite to eat and a beverage at the Food Court.

The full course map

Best Place To Watch

If you’re trying to scope out the ideal spot to watch the race, the grandstands near the Jack Kelly statute (at 2200 Kelly Drive) are the place to go.

Note that shuttle buses will also stop at Rowers Village, near the start of the course, the Canoe Club (mid-course) or the 500 meter mark (final quarter), so you’ll have to walk to this ideal viewing location.

For more spectator info, check out the button below.

A spectator’s guide to the Dad Vail

Getting Around

The races occur roughly two miles north of Boathouse Row, about five miles northwest of Center City. Those coming on foot or by public transportation can pick up a free shuttle bus from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at 25th Street and Kelly Drive, just outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art (near the statue of St. Joan of Arc).

Those driving should head towards Kelly Drive in Fairmount Park. The road will be closed for the event, but cars will be directed through the park and to remote lots (which charge a nominal parking fee), where free shuttles will pick up and drop off every 15-20 minutes. The event is also easily accessible by bike.

Come Prepared

Kelly Drive is closed during the regatta, so you’ll need to park near Boathouse Row or the Art Museum and take the shuttle bus. (That’s good news for tailgaters.)

Don’t Miss

Check out Boathouse Row, a series of Victorian boathouses located along the southern end of Kelly Drive, just north of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Outsider Tip

The Dad Vail is great for picnicking, so pack your basket and spend a gorgeous spring day along the banks of the Schuylkill River.


The Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta was named after famous rowing coach Harry Emerson “Dad” Vail, a long-time coach at the University of Wisconsin.

Vail’s strong beliefs and passion for the sport ushered in the modern day Dad Vail Regatta and continue to inspire the colleges and universities that come to compete.

For more information on the Dad Vail Regatta, click the button below.

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2200 Kelly Drive
Philadelphia, PA 19130
(215) 542-1443

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