Dad Vail Regatta

The largest collegiate regatta in the United States

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Dad Vail Regatta on the Schuylkill River draws tens of thousands of spectators each year. Photo by A. Ricketts for Visit Philadelphia
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Thousands of athletes from more than 100 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada compete in the 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, drawing crowds of over 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.

Event Tips

Kelly Drive is closed during the Dad Vail Regatta, so spectators need to park near Boathouse Row or the Philadelphia Museum of Art and take the shuttle bus. (That’s good news for tailgaters.)

The Dad Vail is the largest collegiate regatta in the nation and a Philadelphia tradition.

Note that shuttle buses stop at Rowers Village, near the start of the course, the Canoe Club (mid-course) or the 500 meter mark (final quarter).

For an ideal spot to watch the race, the grandstands near the Jack Kelly statute (at 2200 Kelly Drive) are the place to go.

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

For more spectator info, check out the button below.

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.

And 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 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.

Click the button below for additional information about the Dad Vail Regatta, including event times, parking details and more.

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