Every fall, students and visitors from all corners of the world come together for the annual Head of the Charles Regatta. Some come to see the clashes on the water. Others are taking in the spectacle of pastel clothing and autumn foliage. A few are just searching for free Nantucket Nectar samples.

Whether you're there to people-watch, grab a bite, or catch the races, you'll need these pointers to have a grand experience at the Regatta.

The basics: The Regatta runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday. There are 55 different events, all of which follow a 3-mile course on the Charles beginning at the Boston University Boathouse and ending six bridges later at Artesani Park in Brighton. Competitors include over 8,000 male and female rowers in youth to veteran age groups, representing over 600 clubs and schools worldwide.

Races to watch: If you're out to see Harvard's rowers compete, plan to come between noon and 1:45 p.m. on Saturday or between 2:20 and 4:45 p.m. on Sunday. Another race that will be fun to watch is the parent/child doubles race scheduled for 4:25 p.m. on Saturday. Click here for the full schedule.

Places to watch: The busiest area will be the intersection of Memorial Drive and JFK Street, so grab a blanket and shades and stake out a spot on the grass instead. You'll be out of the way of the crowds but still close to the food stands. Which brings us to...

Refreshments: This year, official Regatta patrons include Kickass Cupcakes, Clif Bar, Green Mountain Coffee, and Red Bull. Find their tents, because they'll most likely be giving out samples of their products.

Logistics: Make sure to carry your ID, because just like last weekend, you'll need it to re-enter the Yard after dark.

This post has been revised to reflect the following clarification.

CLARIFICATION: Rules for registered parties and overnight guests are more stringent this weekend in many Houses and in freshman dorms