Summer Arts at BU & in Boston

Your BU Student ID gets you free access, even over the summer, to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Harvard Art Museums and the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA/Boston).


Berklee Summer in the City: May – September
Berklee’s Summer in the City Concert Series presents more than 400 free performances in Boston area

Cityside Comedy: Free Shows on Mondays
EVERY Monday at 8:30pm CitySide Comedy takes place at Cityside Bar (1960 Beacon St. Brighton, MA). bringing  you the absolute best stand up comics working today. With hilarious headliners, and frequent surprise guest comics, CitySide Comedy Club is the best spot. 21+

Highland Street Free Fun Fridays
Our Free Fun Fridays offer visitors no-cost admission to many of the most treasured cultural venues in Massachusetts. This program was created to increase access and enrichment opportunities for children and families throughout Massachusetts during the summer months. Every Friday, from the end of June through the end of August, multiple sites are open for free. We reach out to schools, veterans groups, libraries, seniors centers, and many other community organizations to ensure that everyone knows that they are also welcome.

Concerts in the Courtyards
Concerts in the Courtyards brings a range of free music to one of Boston’s most beautiful spaces, the courtyard of the BPL Central Library in Copley Square, during one-hour concerts throughout the summer. Concerts are held twice each week on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and on Fridays at 12:30 p.m.

Sunset Cinema: June 20, July 12, August 9, September 13
Free monthly film series screened on the MFA’s Huntington Avenue lawn.

Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell: June 22 – August 21
WBZ NewsRadio 1030 and the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) present the 33rd annual Free Friday Flicks, a movie series at DCR’s Hatch Shell on the Esplanade in Boston!

Dorchester Heights 2018 Concert Series: June 23 – August 25
Come for the Music. Savor the View. Join on Saturday evenings for free live music, and fun for the whole family, including lawn games, art, face painting in Dorchester Heights – Thomas Park, South Boston.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra: July 11 – August 29
Weekly performances by the Boston Landmarks Orchestra every Wednesday at the Hatch Shell

Shakespeare on the Common: July 17 – August 5
Performances are free and open to the public throughout July and August. Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm.


MIT List Visual Arts Center
Throughout the month of June the MIT List Visual Arts Center puts on various events giving you access to the arts.

A FREE, day long, indoor/outdoor festival celebrating the power of dance to bring people together!  Massachusetts Avenue & Harvard Street, Cambridge.

Boston Pride Parade: Sat. June 9th
Celebrate Pride in Boston with a parade starting at Copley Square and ending at Government Center.

Chelsea Art Walk: Sat. June 9th AND Sat. June 10th
Enjoy art, music, theater, and exhibits in galleries, open studios, and alternative venues.This event is free and open to the public, so please stop by to play and support the Chelsea Community Garden by buying plants, books, and handmade items from our Garden artists.

Fenway Porchfest: Sat. June 16th
Porchfest is an afternoon of free music performed outside of people’s homes and in other public spaces. All musicians, professionals, amateurs, and everything in between, perform voluntarily at a designated time and location. Attendees stroll from venue to venue, in order to hear the music of their choice.

Off Mic! @ Gallery263: Sat. June 16th
Off-Mic! gives audience members a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process of performing. Chris Post and Ryan Chani present this monthly showcase featuring talented comedians inside one of Cambridge’s most unique venue

11th Annual Make Music Harvard Square: Sat. June 16th
The streets around Harvard Square become a free, live music festival featuring more than 70 musicians on 12 different stages.

The Roxbury International Film Festival: June 20-30
The largest New England film festival dedicated to celebrating films by, for, and about people of color, the 20th Annual Roxbury International Film Festival gives voice to diverse cultures both local and worldwide.

Juneteenth at MFA Boston: Wed. June 20th
Join the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. In partnership with the Transformative Culture Project, the night includes thoughtful discussion, powerful art and engaging activities featuring artists from Boston’s local creative community.

Starstruck-Close Encounters of the Awkward Kind: Wed. June 20th
Have you ever met an idol/celebrity/someone you admire, and blow it? Comedians Bethany Van Delft, Nick Chambers & friends tell cringeworthy tales of uncomfortable and embarrassing encounters with celebrities/idols/crushes, the favorite story gets a re-enactment by sketch group, The Redo Crew.

Summer Solstice with Saul Melman: Thurs. June 21st
Celebrate the longest day of the year and enjoy one of the newest additions to the Sculpture Park, Saul Melman’s Best of All Possible Worlds. In this work, a series of translucent casts of doors delineate the floor plan of an absent apartment and capture the changing daylight. Join the artist for a conversation about his sculpture as the sun sets and activates the installation.

Make Music Boston: Thurs. June 21st
In celebration of the summer solstice, musicians of all styles, ages, and experience levels will be filling sidewalks, porches, storefronts, parks, and your ears with music. Every one of the 200+ performances will be open and free to the public. Below are some suggested events:

  • Water Music at Make Music Boston: A site-specific, environmental work, Water Music is inspired by the Charles River and the many roles water plays in our lives.
  • Converge Arts: A youth showcase featuring teens from the the Mattapan Teen Center, Cambridge Community Center, and The Dance Complex.

Celebration of Summer V: Donna Summer Roller Disco: Fri. June 22nd
Get your groove on at our 5th annual roller disco party honoring five-time Grammy winner and Boston native, Donna Summer! Try out your roller disco moves on the skating rink. If you don’t have your own skates, the City of Boston will be providing free rentals on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Festival: Sat. June 23rd
An outdoor, multistage, all ages festival to promote, connect and celebrate Afro-centric culture, heritage, and contributions to the American fabric as expressed through art, music, food, and entertainment with a global community. This free festival focuses on building community, supporting independent artists, and providing fair and equal access to the arts within Greater Boston.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Neighborhood Night: Thurs. June 28th
A series of fun and free interactive evenings for you and your family, including free admission. Enjoy music, performance, food trucks, cash bar, gallery games, and hands-on creative experimentation inside the Museum and out.


Arts at Boston Harborfest: Sun. July 1st
Calling local art buffs! Local artists will display and sell their work, curated by Artists Crossing, under the trellis in Christopher Columbus Park from 11am-7pm.

That’s So Retro! That’s So 80’s: Fri. July 6th
Don’t forget your leg warmers and some muscle shirts. Event is Completely FREE so drop by after work and shake it out. We’re bringing back metal bands and big hair. Playing your favorite artists like David Bowie, Madonna, Aerosmith and so much more.

Jamaica Plain Porchfest: Sat. July 7th
A celebration of the vibrant Jamaica Plain neighborhood with over 400 artists, including circus arts, dance and spoken word.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Neighborhood Night: Thurs. July 12th
A series of fun and free interactive evenings for you and your family, including free admission. Enjoy music, performance, food trucks, cash bar, gallery games, and hands-on creative experimentation inside the Museum and out.

ArtBeat 2018: Sat. July 14th
ArtBeat 2018 is one of the area’s largest and most innovative arts festivals, with over a dozen bands, dance troupes, 75 craft vendors, food, and all-age activities.

Free Fun Friday at the MFA: Fri. July 20th
Visit the MFA on Friday, July 20 to enjoy free admission during our 10th-annual Highland Street Foundation Free Fun Friday!

4th Annual Roxbury Rocks Music Festival: Sat. July 21st
Whether it’s through the music of this year’s exciting line up or one of the many fun activities for kids the 4th Annual Roxbury Rocks Music Festival will be fun for all ages!

Traditional Irish Session at Magazine Beach: Sun. July 22nd, 5:30-7:30pm
Come one, come all: All Irish instrumentalists, singers, dancers, and listeners are welcome! Head to the Druid afterwards for more great tunes. Co-sponsored by The Druid & Jackie O’Riley’s Traditional Irish Dance. FOR EVERYONE!

Light Painting with ArtBoats at Magazine Beach: Sun. July 22nd, 8-9pm
Come make light paintings on the Charles River and in the park! Participants can drive remote controlled boats, control the color of lights on the boats and on land, or take long exposure photographs to make collaborative light graffiti that explores how art can help communities claim public spaces.

Third Annual Fly, Buzz, and Honk! Festival: Thurs. July 26th, 10am-12:30pm
Discover some of the creatures that call Magazine Beach Park home and create your own BEETLE. Use sweep-nets to find insects, search for nests and look closely at birds with binoculars. Discover how plants make life along the Charles River possible for these animals. Picnic music at noon. Ages 7-11 with an adult.

Lowell Folk Festival: July 27th – 29th
This annual celebration is the best in traditional folk music, artisan crafts and ethnic foods, and will be returning to downtown Lowell with a full lineup beginning with the traditional parade of nations from Lowell’s City Hall Plaza to Boarding House Park.

Salsa Squared: Fri. July 27th
Summer nights just got hotter in Harvard Square! Sample a variety of salsa from some of Harvard Square’s hottest spots. Take a dance lesson, sip a ‘mocktail’ and salsa the night away to infectious Latin beats. 

Figment: July 28th & 29th
FIGMENT is an explosion of creative energy. It’s a free, annual celebration of participatory art and culture where everything is possible. For one weekend each summer, we transform The Rose Kennedy Greenway into a large-scale collaborative artwork – and then it’s gone.

Cambridge Jazz Festival: Sun. July 29th
The Cambridge Jazz Festival was born through the combined talents and efforts of former City Councilor Larry Ward, and Chair of the Ensemble Dept. at the Berklee School of Music, Ron Savage. It is their vision that the interest, energy and excitement generated by the CJF will be the catalyst for a lasting, sustainable Culture of Jazz in Cambridge.


11th Annual Boston Greenfest: August 3rd-5th
A multicultural, environmental music festival with interactive exhibits, forums, presentations, and special features.

90s Forever!: Sat. August 3rd
Come on down and dance up a storm to your favorite 90s artists, including TLC, Usher, Backstreet Boys and more! We will also give out prizes for the best 90s outfit, so make sure to come correct.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Neighborhood Night: Thurs. August 9th
A series of fun and free interactive evenings for you and your family, including free admission. Enjoy music, performance, food trucks, cash bar, gallery games, and hands-on creative experimentation inside the Museum and out.

18th annual GospelFest: Sun. August 12th
New England’s largest Gospel music celebration and is free and open to all. Now in its 18th year, this gospel festival blends contemporary and traditional gospel melodies. GospelFest showcases national and local gospel talent.

The Fisherman’s Feast: August 16th-19th
The Fisherman’s Feast is an annual event that began in Boston in 1910 and is based on a tradition that goes back to the 16th century in Sciacca Sicily.

Boston Jazz Fest: Sat. August 25th
The 8th year of this FREE ground-breaking festival featuring the most musically diverse array of jazz artists performing at Boston’s Waterfront.


Boston Arts Festival: September 8th & 9th
Features more than 40 arts vendors, along with performances and interactive arts.


Check out Arts Boston and The Boston Calendar sites for other possible free events not listed here.