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What’s Doing This Columbus Day Weekend

Discounted shopping, parades, Oktoberfest celebration, more


With the fall semester well under way, everyone’s ready to take advantage of the three-day Columbus Day holiday weekend. It’s a great opportunity to explore the city and enjoy fall foliage. We’ve compiled a list of things to do this weekend in and around Boston, many free and all reachable by T.

Saturday, October 10

Holiday Sales

Columbus Day Weekend is synonymous with discounted retail sales on items from cars and dishwashers to cashmere sweaters and boots. Take advantage at some of the area’s best shopping destinations, such as the CambridgeSide Galleria, with over 130 restaurants and stores, including Macy’s, J.Crew, Abercrombie & Fitch, H&M, and Banana Republic, Newbury Street. The Shops at Prudential Center is home to nearly three dozen stores, among them Vineyard Vines, Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Barnes & Noble. Bring your BU ID to get discounts at stores like Kate Spade, LOFT, Club Monaco, and Ann Taylor, and be sure to stroll down Newbury Street for more shopping adventures.

The Shops at Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston; hours: Monday, through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Copley. The CambridgeSide Galleria, 100 CambridgeSide Place, Cambridge; hours: Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, noon to 7 p.m. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Lechmere Station.

Celebrate Columbus’ Italian Heritage by Dining Italian

Commemorate Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World by celebrating his Italian roots, and what better place to do that than Boston’s “Little Italy,” the North End, home to dozens of the city’s best Italian restaurants and bakeries. Below are a few suggestions of where to go for some delicious Italian cuisine.

Giacomo’s Although this is a cash-only restaurant and doesn’t take reservations, its expansive list of pasta and homemade sauces make the long line you’ll likely encounter well worth the wait.

Panza This small intimate restaurant is known for its delicious pasta dishes.

Al Dente While on the more formal side, the large portions of the delicious classic Italian dishes make Al Dente worth it.

Giacomo’s, 355 Hanover St., Boston; hours: Monday through Thursday, 4:30 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 11 p.m., Sunday, 4 to 9:30 p.m; phone: 617-523-9026.

Panza, 326 Hanover St., Boston; open for lunch every day, 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., for dinner Monday through Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10:30 p.m., Sunday, 5 to 9:30 p.m.; phone: 617-557-9248.

Al Dente, 109 Salem St., Boston; hours: Sunday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.; phone: 617-523-0990. 


Be sure to catch the 10th annual HONK! festival of activist street bands. Photo,  courtesy of Bill Manley

HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands
Davis Square, Somerville, and Harvard Square, Cambridge

Honk!, the annual three-day festival featuring brass bands from around the country, celebrates its 10th year this weekend. And these aren’t just any bands: the bands have deep connections to their communities and typically perform for free and conduct workshops for educational and social service organizations. This year’s bands draw on a variety of musical traditions—klezmer, Brazilian, Afrobeat, samba, and hip-hop, to name a few. On Saturday, 25 bands will perform all around Davis Square, Somerville. On Sunday, more than 60 bands and community groups will march in a parade designed to “reclaim the streets for horns, bikes, and feet,” proceeding from Davis Square to Harvard Square. There, the Honk! bands will perform as part of the annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest.

Honk! officially begins in Davis Square, Somerville, on October 10, 1 to 9 p.m. The performances are free and open to the public. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Davis Square. On Sunday, October 11, Honk! parades from Davis Square to Harvard Square, noon to 2 p.m. Each band will perform a brief set on the Harvard Square Oktoberfest main stage on Sunday, 2 to 6 p.m. 

Terrier Men’s Soccer

Cheer on the BU men’s varsity soccer Terriers when they take on the Loyola Greyhounds at home. The team has been unbeaten in its last 11 conference regular season matchups (7-0-4), the longest stretch since going 10-0-2 during in the 2001–2002 season.

The men’s soccer game is October 10, at 1 p.m. at Nickerson Field. Admission is free for all BU students with a sports pass, $2 for faculty and staff, and $5 for the general public.

Boston University Men's Soccer

Support your Terriers when the men’s soccer team takes on the Loyola Greyhounds at Nickerson Field on Saturday. Photo by BU Athletics

Sunday, October 11

Columbus Day Parade

What’s a holiday without a parade? Boston’s annual Columbus Day Parade commemorates the city’s rich Italian heritage and Christopher Columbus’ journey to the Americas; it also honors members of the armed forces from Massachusetts. The huge parade dates back to 1937 and is always held the Sunday before Columbus Day. This year it will feature marching bands, military units and Colonial militias, Boston Italian organizations, Duck Boat floats, and vintage cars.

The two-hour Columbus Day Parade kicks off at 1 p.m. October 11 at City Hall Plaza, crosses the Greenway, and goes through the North End along Atlantic Avenue next to Christopher Columbus Park, Endicott Street, and Hanover Street. Take a MBTA Green Line trolley to Haymarket and walk to the North End.

The 37th Annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest

A tradition since 1979 that draws more than 200,000 people, Oktoberfest features live music and dance performances, foods from around the world, arts, crafts, and vintage goods for sale, and in keeping with the festival’s Bavarian roots, beer gardens.

The Harvard Square Oktoberfest is October 11, from noon to 6 p.m. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Harvard Square.


If the weather cooperates, venture over to the South End Open Market at SoWa, open on Sundays from May through October. Photo courtesy of New England Open Markets

South End Open Market at SoWa

This open-air market has become a huge draw for shoppers. Held in the South End and named for the area south of Washington Street, the market sells local produce and flowers, as well as handmade one-of-a-kind crafts, art, and jewelry. Local food trucks offer an assortment of cuisines. The SoWa Vintage Market, with its array of knick-knacks, china, and glassware, is open all year.

The South End Open Market at SoWa is every Sunday from May through October, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The farmers market is at 500 Harrison Ave.; the food truck court at 540 Harrison Ave.; and the arts market at the end of Thayer Street. The SoWa Vintage Market, 450 Harrison Ave., is open on Sundays year-round. Find directions here.

B.A.A. Half Marathon

Here’s a chance to run for a good cause. The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) 2015 Half Marathon, presented by the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, is a 13.1-mile run along the Emerald Necklace, designed by 19th-century landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Proceeds benefit the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The race kicks off in Boston’s Franklin Park. Parking will not be permitted at the park, so participants should take a B.A.A. shuttle from the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, 415 Summer St., Boston, the MBTA Red Line to JFK/UMass stop, or the MBTA Orange Line to Forest Hills stop. Find more information about shuttle service and directions here.

The B.A.A. Half Marathon kicks off at 8 a.m. October 11, at White Stadium in Franklin Park, 450 Walnut Ave., Jamaica Plain. For more information and to register for the race, go to the B.A.A. website. 

Monday, October 12

Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women

This 10K race, now in its 39th year, celebrates women and healthy living. A Columbus Day tradition, the event is open to women of all ages and fitness levels. The race attracts about 7,000 runners each year. Participants can register the day of the race (registration $60) or in advance online (registration $45).

The Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women starts at the Boston Common Parade Grounds, at the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street, at 9 a.m. October 12. The event will be held rain or shine. 

Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women

Cheer on the runners at the 39th annual Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women on Monday. Photo courtesy of Tufts Health Plan 10K for Women

Christopher Columbus Park Fall Festival

The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park hosts its annual Columbus Park Fall Festival on Columbus Day. Held on the North End waterfront, the festival begins with a short children’s parade at noon, followed by family-friendly entertainment such as a magician, a stilt walker, a children’s storyteller, and local musicians and singers. Crafts will be available for sale as well.

The Columbus Park Fall Festival, free and open to the public, is October 12, 11:45 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Christopher Columbus Park, 100 Atlantic Ave., in the North End.

Jennifer Bates can be reached at jennb7@bu.edu.


6 Comments on What’s Doing This Columbus Day Weekend

  • Terrier on 10.09.2015 at 8:04 am

    I thought we were done “commemorating” Columbus?

    • Dan on 10.09.2015 at 9:20 pm

      YES, finally who someone who gets it. I enthusiastically refuse to observe this “holiday”. Colombus may have been a skilled navigator- but he was also willing to commit savage acts for personal gain, unfortunately setting a precedent for explorers who followed him.

      • Ukumbwa Sauti on 10.13.2015 at 3:11 pm

        Thank you, both, for getting the ludicrous nature of celebrating a man such as Columbus.

  • Ukumbwa Sauti on 10.09.2015 at 11:58 pm

    I would hope we could academically, politically, ethically, historically, clearly and compassionately reconsider the ramifications of “celebrating” a man who rigorous scholarship and indigenous and other experience have defined as a progenitor of genocide. We have but to look to the work of Jan Carew, John Henrik Clarke and Steven Newcomb, along with the great journalism on Indian Country Today Media Network, out of so many more, to see the contradictions in this sort of misplaced “celebration”. Numerous cities and municipalities have progressively and resoundingly done the correct work of reprioritizing this “holiday” for Indigenous People’s Day, Seattle is one of the most noted. One must look into the heart of history to see that the continuation of this “holiday weekend” is ethically unsound and directly disrespectful to the histories, legacies and lifeways of indigenous and African peoples. The scholarship, writing and activism that is coming clearly and powerfully from these communities should be enough to give us pause at this time, to realize that being caught up in the momentum of imperialistic reverie is no longer prudent nor reflective of the call to enlightened and enlivened humanity that is in such high demand in the kind of world within which we live and struggle for justice today.

    • steven m on 10.12.2015 at 11:46 am

      The people that came with Columbus on his journeys were not the best kind of people. These men were adventurers and some criminals. These men had their own agendas and were driven by adventure, greed, and power. Yes abuses did occur. Columbus was an explorer not a conqueror. To say that Columbus is responsible for genocide against native americans is historically incorrect. Was it Columbus who placed Native people in reservations?? Many like to say that it was a tragedy for natives have encountered Spaniards. Insinuating that they lived in paradise prior to the arrival of Europeans. Now we know that no such paradise existed, and that the Great american empires were ruled by genocide and slavery and religious human sacrifices of astonishing cruelty.

      • Ukumbwa Sauti on 10.13.2015 at 3:10 pm

        Actually, history does show his complicity and how he treated the indigenous peoples. He can not be separated from the genocide because we desire to call him an “explorer” (what gives a person, nations, churches, the arrogance to assume that their “exploration” is a universal good for those so “encountered”?). And even then, Europe was in such dire straits for food, cultural rejuvenation and power that most of the “explorers” were part and parcel of all the colonial endeavors that came from the powers that be. They were mercenaries, not inert people looking for nice things to write storybooks about. Indigenous peoples and Africans have a much different take on that colonial history because we are still subject to Criminal Columbus’s actions and the systems of abuse and exploitation he set in place. He did not travel to set up cultural sharing or understanding. Reference the proclamation that he and other “explorers” read to the indigenous peoples. Read the racist roman catholic papal bulls of 1095, 1452,1455, 1493 at least. He was “exploring” on behest of those arrogant papal bulls. Of course he didn’t herd the Tainos and Arawaks onto reservations, but his anti-cultural arrogance and racist, sexist violence (spoken about in HIS diaries and the writings of Bartholome Las Casas, chronicled by such historical giants as Jan Carew and Dr. John Henrik Clarke) set up a clear context of “justified” exploitation based on the christian imperialism that was given foundation by Spain and the vatican in Rome…this already a multi-national conspiracy against humanity. It was a tragedy for Natives to have “encountered” Spaniards…and that has nothing to do with what their culture was like before that “encounter”. The system of European colonialism and genocide is not made acceptable by any lack of projected template of perfection or villainy by outsiders. And this focus on “human sacrifice” is also no justification for accepting the brutality and colonial priviege that Criminal Columbus created and gave vibrant, cruel life to. It does not justify an ongoing deification of Columbus and the other “explorers” all of whom sailed in on the waters of the intrinsically racist and arrogant ideation (see Steven Newcomb, “Pagans in the Promised Land”) of the catholic papal bulls that Francis has yet to rescind even though there are powerful calls coming from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and all over the world, even from within the catholic church (see the Loretto Community, also UU and World Council of Churches statements on this) due to the persistence of oppression that is directly related to that period of “discovery” ushered in by the mercenary exploitation of Criminal Columbus. If Columbus is not directly connected in this history’s most destructive and ubiquitous wave of colonial exploitation, why is there such broad (though often ignored) outcry, scholarship and resistance to the very process that Criminal Columbus clearly figures into as a foundational character, even by the words of his champions?

        (most people acknowledge he is central and foundational in this colonial endeavor…but the voices we hear and that get allowed are the sorts that are stated above, those that would throw Columbus yearly parties and parades, mostly coming from Europeans and other privileged by that theft of land, destruction of culture and the systematized anti-culture of violence that exists even now across areas of politics, housing, land, health care, spiritual life, economy and food acquisition…if we are really interested in humanity, we must listen and respond to that segment of humanity that is directly, historically and materially and emotionally affected by the exploitative endeavors of Criminal Columbus, religious imperialism and European colonialism in general)

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