Raritan River Festival

Route 18 North
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

History of the Raritan River Festival

The first Raritan River Festival was held on August 16, 1980 as part of the 300th Anniversary Celebration of the City of New Brunswick. Hundreds of people crowded the banks of the Raritan River to watch parades of decorated boats, raft races and canoe races. The day was highlighted by the arrival of folk music legend Pete Seeger on the good ship Clearwater.

In his welcome letter, original festival chairman M.J. “Mac” Babcock wrote “Historically the development of Central New Jersey was based largely on the utilization of the Raritan River to transport people and goods. Most of this commerce was centered around the head of navigation at New Brunswick.”

The festival’s goal is to celebrate the ties between the City of New Brunswick and our historic Raritan River. In Mac Babcock’s words, the festival strives to “Demonstrate the recreational and artistic potential of our riverfront.”

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster
Please use "Flag This Place" to alert us about content that is inappropriate or needs immediate attention. Nothing you submit will be shared with other site visitors.

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »

Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today


  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in New Brunswick
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner