Free Fun Returns to the Riverfront Next Month - Festivals, Fitness & More

Press Release, May 15, 2024: Riverfront Recapture has announced their 2024 line-up of free festivals, concerts, and fitness programs in their four riverfront parks. Riverfront Recapture’s parks and trails are open daily and welcomed more than 800,000 visitors in 2023. 

“Our free, public events are one of the many ways people discover our beautiful parks and how we connect people with the Connecticut River,” said Michael Zaleski, President & CEO of Riverfront Recapture. “People attend our food truck festival and discover a new place to run, or join us for the Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival and learn that we offer learn-to-row classes.”

Riverfront Recapture hosts hundreds of free events each year. The season officially kicks off with Yoga Flow on the River, on Monday, June 3, at 6 pm, with free programming offered daily through August. 

Signature Events 

Hartbeat Music Festival
Saturday, June 22, 11 am – 9 pm, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
The Hartbeat Music Festival is a free, family-friendly music and community celebration featuring local and regional bands on three stages, music-making activities, food, beer, and more. The 2024 lineup includes headliner Javier Colon, alum of the University of Hartford’s Hartt School of Music and winner of The Voice (Season 1), Adversity, the Balkun Brothers, Bap Pack, Bryan Alfred, Esor Rose, Ian D’Arcangelo, Jake Kulak & the Modern Vandals, JOATA, The KC Sisters, Jason Lapierre, Khay Larhon, Mixed Company, Nathaniel Hintz, Nikita, Righteous Continental, Stattic, The Sparkle and Fade, Undercover Cameo, Ysanne, and Riverfront Recapture’s founding festival partner, The Professors of Sweet, Sweet Music.

Riverfront Food Truck Festival
July 18, 19 & 20, 11 am – 8 pm
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Whether you’re craving cupcakes and country music, poutine and pop, or just looking for a lobster roll and lawn games, you’ll find it at the Riverfront Food Truck Festival. Enjoy three days of live music, beer, and delicious food from over 20 trucks, as well as tastings, meet and greets, and cooking demos from renowned celebrity chefs Erica Blaire Roby and Rasheed Philips in the Tent. Participating food trucks include Blue Chip Creamery, BriCins Festival Foods, Cerella’s  Sweet Teas, Chompers, Clyde’s Cupcakes, Cousins Maine Lobster, Da Caribbean Flavors, Gina’s Foods, Macken’s Sliders, Request a Chef, Scatz Twisted Phillyz, Smash Pad, Tacos los Mexicanos, The Rolling Roti, Twin Beaks Fried Chicken, Villa of Lebanon, Ydanis & Co and more.

Taste of the Caribbean & Jerk Festival
Saturday, August 3, 1 – 9 pm, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Experience the island vibes of the Caribbean; no passport required. The Taste of the Caribbean & Jerk Festival brings the Caribbean to you with a carnival, island cuisine, tropical drinks, and island rhythms performed by internationally renowned musicians. 

Riverfront Dragon Boat & Asian Festival
Saturday, August 17, 8 am – 4 pm, Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Celebrate Asian and Pacific Island cultures through traditional music and dance, hands-on art activities, food, and martial arts demonstrations on the upper plaza with community and club teams racing on the river. Register a team to compete, or join us and cheer on your favorite paddlers.

Head of the Riverfront
Sunday, October 6, 8 am – 5 pm, Riverside Park & Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
The Head of the Riverfront brings head-style competition on the Connecticut River for high school, collegiate, and Masters rowers. The Head of the Riverfront is a USRowing Registered Regatta. Every USRowing-sanctioned event is led by a jury of USRowing-trained and certified officials, and registration with USRowing designates the regatta as a nationally recognized safe and fair event. The 2023 Head of the Riverfront was our largest regatta yet, with nearly 800 entries from 76 clubs and schools, bringing 4,500 athletes and 10,000 spectators to Hartford. Registration will open in August.

Free Concerts

Sounds of Summer Concert Series
Thursdays beginning June 13, 6 pm
Great River Park
Enjoy live music with a beautiful view at Sounds of Summer, a family-friendly concert series presented by Mayor Connor Martin and the Town of East Hartford. Pack a picnic dinner and bring the whole family. This year’s lineup is June 13: Cover 2 Cover, June 20:  Shaded Soul, June 27: The Score, July 11: Sound Pipers, July 18: La Invasion Secreta, July 25: Alvin Carter Project, August 1: Soul Sound Revue and August 8: Leaf Jumper

Summer Pops
June 29 & July 13, 6 – 9 pm
Great River Park
The Middletown Symphonic Band brings your favorite songs from Broadway and the big screen to our parks.

Changes in Latitudes
August 9, 6 pm
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
From “Margaritaville” to “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” Changes in Latitude, a talented tribute band, will transport you to a tropical paradise with their authentic and energetic performances of Jimmy Buffett’s classic songs. Expect a night of good vibes, sing-along moments, and margaritas!

Eagles Experience
August 23, 6 – 9 pm
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Get ready for a night of good times, great tunes, and a nostalgic journey through the Eagles’ greatest hits performed by the Eagles Experience, the ultimate Eagles tribute band. From “Hotel California” to “Take It Easy,” their spot-on harmonies and timeless melodies will transport you back to the golden age of classic rock.

Gospel Festival
August 24, 3 – 5 pm
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
The Gospel Festival is an awe-inspiring celebration of faith, music, and unity! Prepare to be uplifted and inspired by an exceptional lineup of performers dedicated to spreading love and hope through their musical talents.

On the Water

Learn to Row Day
June 3, 10 am – 1 pm
Riverfront Boathouse, Riverside Park
Test the waters at our rowing open house! This event is open to all future rowers, ages 12 and up, and is designed to introduce you to the incredible sport of rowing. Guided by our experienced coaches, you’ll receive instructions on the fundamentals of rowing technique, boat handling, and teamwork. You’ll have the opportunity to get hands-on experience on land, on ergs, and the Connecticut River in barges. Dress comfortably, and bring water.

Veterans Rowing & Kayaking
June 15, 9 – 11 am
Riverfront Boathouse, Riverside Park
Calling all veterans and military service members! Explore the serene waters of the Connecticut River with our free rowing and kayaking sessions. Thanks to our partnership with the Connecticut Adaptive Rowing Program (CARP) and Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital, this program offers veterans with physical disabilities—including PTSD and/or visual impairments—an opportunity to enjoy outdoor leisure activities and boost their well-being. Classes will also be held on June 29, July 13, July 27, August 10 & 24, September 14 & 28. Classes are free, but registration is required. Contact Paige McCullough-Casciano at 860-714-2421 or email for more information.

Free Fitness

Yoga Flow on the River
Mondays beginning June 3
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 6 – 7 pm
Connect with nature, stretch, and strengthen with instructors from Hartford Sweat! Bring a yoga mat and get ready to namaste.

WIP Into Shape
Tuesdays beginning June 4
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 6 – 7 pm
This feel-good, boot camp-style workout from WIP Fitness is designed to strengthen and tone using resistance bands and your body weight.

Wednesdays beginning June 5
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 6 – 7 pm
Take the stage at lower Mortensen Riverfront Plaza for RiverBarre, our free total-body-toning workout class taught by instructors from Hartford Sweat. You’ll feel the burn through ballet-inspired exercises incorporating resistance bands, yoga stretching, and controlled breathing. Strengthen and sculpt your body and your mind!

Thursdays beginning June 6
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza, 6 – 7 pm
Dance, dance, dance the day away at lower Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in this one-hour heart-pumping Zumba workout led by instructors from Hartford Sweat.

Going Paces
Thursdays beginning June 6 at 7 pm, Sundays beginning June 9 at 9 am
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Thursdays Train for your next 5K with EightSixGo, a Hartford-based inclusive running group.

Tai Chi
Saturdays beginning June 8
Great River Park, 10:30 – 11:30 am
Stretch and strengthen the mind and body through a beautiful series of easy-to-learn movements combined with breathing and self-acupressure.

Races along the River

Riverfront 5K($)
June 27, 6 pm
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Get a running head-start on the weekend at the Hartford Marathon Foundation’s Riverfront 5K. Cross the finish line of this 3.1-mile course for a cold craft beer, ice cream, and 5K swag.

Run for the Riverfront 5K($)
September 14, 8 am
Riverside Park
Ready, set, sweat! Run, row, walk or erg 5K to support Riverfront Recapture’s Community Rowing Program, which provides free rowing classes to Hartford and East Hartford youth.

Hartford HealthCare Community 5K($)
September 21, 8 am
Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Run for the river in the second annual Hartford HealthCare Community 5K! This 5K will begin and end at the Hartford HealthCare Community Stage at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza and run along the Connecticut River through our beautiful parks.