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Campus Life

Summer freebies

Outdoor concerts and events that don’t cost a dime

Summer time is officially here. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Summertime and the livin’ is easy . . .  events move outdoors and are often free. As of June 21 it’s officially summer, time for picnic baskets, blankets on the grass, and dancing barefoot under gentle skies. There are plenty of opportunities for these pursuits in the Boston area — as the following sampling of free upcoming open-air events shows.

The organizers of the Summer Revels claim that summer in Boston really begins with their annual outdoor show, which is this weekend, June 24 and 25, at the Boston Children’s Museum. With their exuberant performances, they stake as good a claim as any to being the season’s kickoff. The show is oriented towards kids, but is good fun for anyone, with morris dancing, juggling, larger-than-life puppets, and more, followed by a jazzy New Orleans–style funeral for Old Man Winter and a 90-minute outdoor stage show with more than 100 performers. Showcasing music, dance, and songs from around the world, the performances begin at 7:15 p.m.

Another summer institution is the WBZ Free Friday Flicks, a series of free movies shown at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. The Friday Flicks season kicked off on June 16, and with the exception of July 1, a movie will be shown every Friday until September. The films are announced on a week-by-week basis, so call 617-787-7200 for details. Tonight’s movie is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. You’ll want to get there early to get a good spot on the grass and enjoy the river breezes and your picnic dinner as the sun goes down and the screen lights up (at about 8:30 p.m.).

The Hatch Shell is also the scene of a number of free concerts, from Three Dog Night to the Metro Wind Symphony. Nothing beats relaxing on the grass while music pours out over the Charles River, unless it’s dancing on the grass to that music. For a full listing of this summer’s concerts at the Hatch Shell, click here.

On Boston Common, a sure sign that summer’s under way is the glittering spray of the Frog Pond fountains. This year the pond opens for wading on June 30 at 11 a.m., then is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. A wonderful place to cool off or just people-watch, the pond is a magnet for youthful energy.

One of the biggest free shows of the summer, of course, is the 4th of July Boston Pops concert and fireworks display. The Charles River Esplanade is always thronged with people, so if you want a good seat, you’ll probably need to make a day of it — come early and bring plenty of supplies to accompany your blanket and sunscreen.

Musical events go on all summer, some of them running in series. The Dorothy Curran Concert Series, every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at City Hall Plaza, features an eclectic mix of bands, starting off on July 12 with the U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty, followed on the 19th by the Village People. For further listings, including the WFNX New Music Series and the WBOS Summer Concert Series, visit the City of Boston Arts, Tourism, and Special Events Web site, which lists all events on city property.

Theater also moves outdoors in the summer, and a Boston favorite is Shakespeare on the Common, produced by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. With surprisingly good acoustics, the show draws big crowds, and it’s worth getting there early. This year’s play is The Taming of the Shrew; performances begin Saturday, July 22, and run thereafter every Tuesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. For details on performances, visit the company’s Web site.

Free outdoor events crop up all summer, so keep an eye out for the latest additions. Other information options include checking the Boston Globe Web site and taking a look at the Weekly Dig and the Boston Phoenix.