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Here’s What’s Going on Columbus Day Weekend

Parades, shopping, and plenty of food on tap

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Columbus Day, the first three-day weekend of the fall, is a great time to explore the city before the weather turns cold. With that in mind, we’ve put together a list of events in and around the city over the next several days. Whether your passion is eating, shopping, being outdoors, or hitting a museum, we’ve got it all for you here.

Friday, October 6

Among the more than two dozen activist bands performing at this year’s Honk! Festival in Somerville this weekend are Dead Music Capital Band (Austin, TX) and Brass Liberation Orchestra (San Francisco). Photo by Jesse Edsell-Vetter

Among the more than two dozen activist bands performing at this year’s Honk! Festival in Somerville this weekend are Dead Music Capital Band (Austin, Tex.) and Brass Liberation Orchestra (San Francisco). Photo by Jesse Edsell-Vetter

12th Annual HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands

Music and social activism converge this weekend when more than two dozen activist street bands from around the country converge on Davis Square in Somerville for the 12th annual three-day Honk! Festival. It kicks off Friday with a lantern parade at Hodgkins Park in Davis Square at 7 p.m. (Lantern-making workshops will precede, from 4 to 6 p.m.) That will be followed with performances by some of the Honk bands at Once and Aeronaut Brewing Company, both in Somerville, from 8 to 11 p.m. On Saturday, from noon to 9 p.m., the bands will perform at venues in Davis Square. And on Sunday, local community groups will join the bands and march from Davis Square to Harvard Square along Mass Ave., at noon, to “reclaim the streets for horns, bikes, and feet.” The parade brings together community activists working on a range of social justice and environmental issues paired with bands based on shared interests. The parade arrives in Harvard Square at about 2 p.m., just in time for the bands at the annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest.

Honk! kicks off on Friday, October 6, at 7 p.m. with a lantern parade at Hodgkins Park in Davis Square, Somerville. Bands then perform at Once, 156 Highland Ave., Somerville, and at Aeronaut Brewing Company, 14 Tyler St., Somerville, from 8 to 11 p.m. On Saturday, the bands play throughout Davis Square from noon to 9 p.m. On Sunday, they parade from Davis Square to Harvard Square starting at noon. The bands perform at the Oktoberfest mainstage and on smaller stages from 2 to 6 p.m. 

A complete schedule of events can be found here and a list of the bands in this year’s festival here. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Davis Square. All events are free and open to the public.

Saturday, October 7

Holiday Sales

If it’s a federal holiday, you can bet there will be lots of sales going on all weekend. Along Newbury Street, Boston’s swankiest shopping destination, you’ll find retailers like AllSaints, NikeBoston, and Urban Outfitters, many offering holiday markdowns. At the nearby Shops at Prudential Center, browse among dozens of stores, including Ann Taylor, Vineyard Vines, and J.Crew. Be sure to grab a free PRUferred Card to make the most of your visit. Find a list of stores at the Pru offering student discounts here. And the adjacent Copley Place offers even more shopping options, including men’s and women’s J.Crew stores, Barneys, Coach, Gap, and Neiman Marcus.

Prudential Center hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Copley Place hours: Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Pick up a PRUferred card at thePrudential Center Desk customer service. Newbury Street retailer hours vary.

Enjoy brunch this weekend and support a good cause at the same time during the third annual District Hall Brunch Battle, taking place Saturday, October 7. Photo courtesy of District Hall

Enjoy brunch this weekend and support a good cause at the same time at the third annual District Hall Brunch Battle Saturday, October 7. Photo courtesy of District Hall

Third Annual District Hall Brunch Battle

What millennial doesn’t love brunch? Head on down to District Hall in Boston’s Innovation District for the third annual Brunch Battle, from noon to 2 p.m. Competing restaurants will fight for your taste buds to be voted this year’s Brunch Battle Champion. Restaurants include Gather, Brownstone, Bond Resturant at the Langham, Hops N Scotch Bar, Row 34, and the Living Room. Tickets are $25 for admission and brunch samples. Drinks can be purchased at the bar. All proceeds benefit Community Servings, a local nonprofit food and nutrition program helping those with chronic illness. The event is 21+ and a valid ID is required.

The Third Annual Brunch Battle is at District Hall, 75 Northern Ave., Boston, from noon to 2 p.m. Purchase tickets here. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Park Street, a Red Line train to South Station, then a Silver Line Waterfront bus to Courthouse Station.

Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist at the Institute of Contemporary Art

This new exhibition at the ICA is the first US survey of artist Mark Dion, a New Bedford, Mass. native, who for decades has been exploring how we collect, interpret, and display nature. The show examines the artist’s practice of using objects like books, birds, plants, photos, and more to deconstruct science- and museum-based rituals of collecting and exhibiting objects. Included are 20 of the artist’s most significant artworks, such as The N.Y. State Bureau of Tropical Conservation (1992), which displays natural specimens gathered from a Venezuelan rain forest, and Toys ’R’ U.S. (When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth) (1994), showcasing a child’s dinosaur-themed bedroom—a reflection on consumption, extinction, and the global environmental crisis. View a newly commissioned work, The Time Chamber, an interactive sculpture that blends prints, drawings, journals, and ephemera.

Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist is on view at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, through December 31. Find hours and admission prices here. Find directions here. The museum is free to BU students with a valid ID.  

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1955, oil on canvas, is among 11 works by the famed American artist on view in a new exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts titled Mark Rothko: Reflection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of the MFA

Mark Rothko, Untitled, 1955, oil on canvas, is among 11 works by the American artist on view at the Museum of Fine Arts new exhibition Mark Rothko: Reflection. National Gallery of Art, Washington, © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photo courtesy of the MFA

Mark Rothko: Reflection at the Museum of Fine Arts

Mark Rothko, one of the most influential artists of the 20th century, gets the star treatment in this new show at the Museum of Fine Arts. Included are 11 masterpieces on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The exhibition opens with one of Rothko’s earliest paintings, Thru the Window (1938), on public view for the first time in the United States, and spans Rothko’s career, tracing his evolution from his early years, when he explored a surrealist style, to his multiform compositions and his classic color field paintings. See firsthand how Rothko explored the use of color as a form of expression. Admission is free for students with a BU ID.

Mark Rothko: Reflection is on view at the Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., through July 1, 2018. Find hours and admission prices here (free to BU students with ID). Find directions here.

Sunday, October 8

Boston Columbus Day Parade

Boston’s annual Columbus Day Parade, now marking its 80th year, celebrates the titular explorer, as well as the city’s storied Italian heritage and Massachusetts military units. The spectacle includes a mix of marching bands, Duck Boats, representatives from local Italian-American organizations, politicians, vintage cars, and more. Always held the Sunday before Columbus Day, the parade’s path changes from year to year. In odd-numbered years like this one, the parade begins at Boston City Hall Plaza and make its way to the North End via Congress Street, State Street, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway to Atlantic Avenue, Hanover Street, and Endicott Street, before completing a loop back to Hanover Street. In even-numbered years, the parade begins in East Boston and ends at Maverick Square near the waterfront.

The two-hour Columbus Day Parade starts at 1 p.m. To get to City Hall Plaza, take an MBTA Green Line trolley to Government Center or an MBTA Orange Line train to State Street.

Caption: More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest on Sunday, October 8. Photo courtesy of Bill Manley

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest on Sunday, October 8. Photo courtesy of Bill Manley

The 39th Annual Harvard Square Oktoberfest

This annual event dates back to 1978, and it has become one of the Boston area’s most popular fall festivals, drawing crowds of more than 200,000. Sponsored by the Harvard Square Business Association, the festival features food from around the globe, as well as arts, crafts, vintage goods, sidewalks sales, unique gifts, and free samples. There’s also live music. In addition to the bands from the Honk! Festival (see above), Harvard Square’s intimate music club, Passim, will have a special stage. And of course, it wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without beer: there will be six beer gardens throughout Harvard Square to help those 21+ slake their thirst.

The Harvard Square Oktoberfest is Sunday, October 8, from noon to 6 p.m., around Harvard Square. Admission is free and open to the public. Find more information here. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Harvard Square.

Somerville Flea

At this open-air market, in the heart of Somerville’s Davis Square, you can find vintage clothing, furniture, and records as well as handcrafted jewelry, baked goods courtesy of Bye Bye Banana Bread, artwork, and more. The seasonal market, running from June through mid-October, also offers live music, starting at 1 p.m. This Sunday’s featured band is Spotted Tiger. Be sure to pick up some fresh produce from Dick’s Market Gardens and Greenhouses, based in Lunenburg, Mass.

The Somerville Flea is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, from June through mid-October, at 52 Holland St., Davis Square, Somerville. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Davis Square. Find a complete list of vendors here.

Fall Foliage at the Arnold Arboretum

Looking to spend the holiday weekend outdoors? There’s no better place to be in the fall than the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain. Run by Harvard University, the arboretum is spread over 281 acres and has more than 4,000 trees, shrubs, and vines, making it easy to catch some fall foliage. This weekend is also the last chance to view the arboretum’s temporary exhibition The Evolution of an Urban Landscape: Recent Paintings of Forest Hills by Andrew Haines, which highlights the evolution of neighborhoods around the arboretum, like Forest Hills and Forest Park.

The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. The visitor center and the art exhibitions are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day except Wednesday. Admission is free. Take an MBTA Orange Line train to Forest Hills station.

With more than 4,000 trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, the Arnold Arboretum, located in nearby Jamaica Plain, is the perfect place to view fall foliage. Photo by Cydney Scott

With more than 4,000 trees, shrubs, and flowering plants, the Arnold Arboretum in nearby Jamaica Plain offers great fall foliage viewing. Photo by Cydney Scott

Monday, October 9

Zooarchaeology Laboratory Open House at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Stop by Harvard’s fascinating Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology on Columbus Day to get a rare behind-the-scenes look at a major museum lab that helps archaeologists analyze and identify excavated animal bones. Researchers will be on hand to demonstrate the techniques they use to determine the age of a skeleton. The annual open house has become a popular draw for school-age children. Visitors are encouraged to bring any bones they may have uncovered in their own backyards and have them identified.

The Zooarchaeology Laboratory Open House at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, is Monday, October 9, from noon to 4 p.m. General admission is $12, $10 for students with a valid college ID and senior citizens, $8 for children ages one to three, and free for members and children under three. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Harvard Square and walk through Harvard Yard to Divinity Avenue.

Christopher Columbus Park Fall Festival

The Friends of Christopher Columbus Park hosts its annual fall festival every Columbus Day. Sponsored by North End and Boston waterfront businesses, the family-friendly event kicks off with a children’s parade through the park. Expect to see magicians, storytellers, and games, as well as pumpkin- and face-painting. The event is free and open to the public, but guests are urged to bring donations of food items, such as whole-grain, low-sugar cereal, whole-wheat spaghetti, and tomato sauce to support a food drive for the Pine Street Inn.

The Columbus Park Fall Festival is Monday, October 9, at Christopher Columbus Park, 110 Atlantic Ave., from noon to 4 p.m. Find directions here.

Fenway Alliance Opening Our Doors Day

Thanks to the nonprofit Fenway Alliance, Boston residents and guests will be treated on Columbus Day to a day of free cultural experiences throughout the five-mile Fenway neighborhood. Choose from among 80 events, such as  musical and dance performances, walking tours of the Fenway neighborhood, and much more at the daylong event, which kicks off at 10 a.m. on the Christian Science Plaza, 235 Huntington Ave, and runs til 4 p.m. Free trolleys will shuttle visitors to key locations, including Evans Way Park and Northeastern’s Krentzman Quad. Among this year’s highlights are an interactive art installation at Evans Way Park titled American Therapy by Julie Ann Otis, painting and playing pianos at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Christina Science Plaza, and an interactive dry-erase mural by the nonprofit Art Resource Collaborative for Kids, also at the Christian Science Plaza. 

Find more information about this year’s Fenway Alliance Opening Our Doors Day and a complete schedule of events here.

Visitors can attend more than 80 free cultural experiences taking place throughout the Fenway from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Columbus Day as part of the annual Fenway Alliance Opening Our Doors Day. Photo courtesy of Fenway Alliance

Attend more than 80 free cultural experiences throughout the Fenway Columbus Day as part of the annual Fenway Alliance Opening Our Doors Day. Photo courtesy of Fenway Alliance

Alex Pena (COM’19) can be reached at alexgp97@bu.edu.

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