Free Things to Do in Boston, September 2015
Don’t miss all the free events happening around town, including MixFest, the Fluff Festival, Strandbeests at MIT, Boston Freedom Rally, JP Music Festival, and more.
Back to School: Films for Adults
Don’t know what to do now that the kids are back at school? The South Boston Branch of the Public Library will be showing films set in the classroom, including Goodbye, Mr. Chips, The Blackboard Jungle, Dead Poets Society, and To Sir, With Love. Movies start at 1 p.m. every Tuesday in September.
Free, Tuesdays starting September 1, 1-3 p.m., South Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library, 646 E Broadway, cityofboston.gov.
Labor Day Weekend Fireworks
Summer isn’t over just yet—we’ve still got Labor Day weekend. If you’re sticking around town, you can catch the third annual fireworks display, which will be set off along the South Boston Seaport Waterfront at 9 p.m. on September 5. Bring lawn chairs, snacks, and good company. To snag the best view, head to the Boston Harborwalk at Fan Pier, Christopher Columbus Park, or Piers Park.
Free, Saturday, September 5, 9 p.m., Boston Harbor, summeronthewaterfront.org.
Emerge Boston Arts Festival
The Boston Arts (Ahts) Festival has been re-imagined as Emerge, a new one-day celebration of the local arts scene. The festival will feature visual, video, and performance art, as well as music, dance, and poetry. It will mark the opening of a juried exhibition at City Hall of 30 works from Boston’s emerging artists, which will be on view all month. The evening will also features performances by singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges, and percussionist Maria Finkelmeier, as well as a sneak peek at Daniel Beaty’s play Mr. Joy, which will debut at Arts Emerson later this month.
Free, Thursday, September 10, 5-10:30 p.m. City Hall, facebook.com.
ART & SCIENCE
Strandbeests at MIT
If you missed the Strandbeests at City Hall Plaza and the Greenway in late August, you can catch the wind-powered mechanical creations at MIT this month. Creator Theo Jansen will host a public panel discussion with Trevor Smith, curator of the Strandbeests exhibit at the Peabody Essex Museum, and MIT associate professor Neri Oxman. Two of the “beach animals” will then walk around the plaza outside of the MIT Media Lab.
Free, Thursday, September 10, panel discussion at 3 p.m., walk on plaza from 5:30 to 7 p.m., MIT Media Lab, 75 Amherst St., Cambridge, pem.org/strandbeest.
Classics on the Common
Phone home with E.T., go on an action-packed adventure with the Goonies, and travel back to the future with Marty McFly. Mayor Walsh is hosting movie nights on the Boston Common this September, with classics screening near the Frog Pond on September 11, 18, and 25.
Free, Fridays, September 11, 18, and 25, Boston Common, start times range from 6:25 to 6:45, cityofboston.gov.
BACK TO SCHOOL
There’s no better way to kick off the school year in Boston than with a party at Fenway Park. “It is the 30th year of the event, so we are very excited to amp up the giveaways and prizes,” says event manager Courtney Beinhaur. “We’ll be giving away L. L. Bean gift cards, Dunkin Donuts gift cards, Skullcandy wireless speakers, and—of course—Red Sox tickets. In addition to giveaways, CollegeFest will feature performances by up-and-coming artists, opportunities to meet other Boston-area students, and the chance to get on Fenway Park’s big screen. Don’t forget your school ID—it’ll serve as your ticket to the event.
Free, Saturday, September 12, 11 a.m., Gate C, Fenway Park, collegefest.com.
JP Music Festival
The Jamaica Plain Music Festival returns for its fifth year with more than 20 performers—all of whom either live or work in the neighborhood—two stages, and seven hours of non-stop music. This year’s lineup includes American Echoes, Fur Purse, LOVE LOVE, The Upper Crust, and more.
Free, Saturday, September 12, 12-7 p.m., Pinebanks Field, Jamaica Plain, jpmusicfestival.com.
A day of music, shopping, food, and children’s activities is coming to Assembly Row. Riverfest is back for an eighth year of entertainment for the whole family. The event will feature face painting, jugglers, trivia, a bounce house, and more. Live music will play throughout the day, and a fireworks show will take place over the Mystic River at sundown.
Free, Saturday, September 12, 12-8 p.m., Assembly Row and Sylvester Baxter Riverfront Park, Somerville, assemblyrow.com.
What started as a street fair in 1992 is now the largest festival in Cambridge. Rooted in African traditions, Cambridge Carnival returns for its 23rd rendition of celebrating culture and community with a parade of colorful costumes. The event will also feature musical performances, children’s activities, food, drinks, and more.
Free, Sunday, September 13, parade starts at 12:30 p.m. at Blackstone and River streets and ends at Kendall Square, Cambridge, cambridgecarnival.org.
Out of the Park
Boston’s beloved baseball team is coming to the Boston Common—sort of. The team will take on the Tampa Bay Rays at an away game on September 13, but you can catch all the excitement right here in the city, on a big screen on the Boston Common. The event will feature balloon artists, face painters, free carousel rides, a DJ, and—of course—Wally the Green Monster.
Free, Sunday, September 13, 1 p.m., Boston Common, corner of Charles and Beacon streets, highlandstreet.org.
Opa! The Greek Festival returns to Boston this month. The event features traditional Greek dancing and music, as well as authentic Greek food—all the gyros, baklava, and dolmathes you can eat. The festival will also offer “attic treasures” and jewelry for sale, as well as raffle prizes and face painting.
Free, Friday, September 18, to Sunday, September 20, times vary, Cathedral Center, 162 Goddard Ave., Brookline, bostoncathedral.org/greekfest.
Mix 104.1’s annual fall concert returns this month with a lineup featuring Rob Thomas, Third Eye Blind, Massachusetts native Rachel Platten, Vance Joy, and Andy Grammer. The event draws thousands of attendees every year, so we recommend snagging a spot on the Esplanade early.
Free, Saturday, September 19, gates open at noon, music starts around 2 p.m., Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, mix1041.cbslocal.com.
South Boston Street Festival
A pooch-friendly day of live entertainment on two stages, more than 100 local merchants, food, and children’s activities is coming to Southie. The South Boston Street Festival takes place September 19 with a lineup featuring Adam Herbert’s Sinatra Band, The Peggy Woods School of Irish Step Dance, and the Toe Jam Puppet Band.
Free, Saturday, September 19, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., East Broadway between I and L streets, southbostonstreetfestival.com.
Boston Local Food Festival
Holy guacamole—a whole festival dedicated to food! Join the Sustainable Business Network at the Rose Kennedy Greenway for a day dedicated to healthy eating and living. The event features farmers, local restaurants, food trucks, DIY demos, music, children’s activities, and more. The family-friendly festival is also a zero-waste event that diverts more than 91% of the waste and offsets all of its energy use every year.
Free, Sunday, September 20, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Rose Kennedy Greenway, bostonlocalfoodfestival.com.
Calling all singers—whether you sing professionally or exclusively in the car or shower—the Revels RiverSing returns for a 12th year of festivities this month. The event features a parade from Harvard Square to the Charles River, where the 100-member Revels RiverSing Chorus will lead the crowd in singing a variety of songs. Additionally, there will be circus performers, “larger-than-life puppets,” and giant light-up butterflies.
Free, Sunday, September 20, 5 p.m., starts at Harvard Square, revels.org.
Sound of Our Town 2
The Vanyland-curated Sound of Our Town returns to the Lawn on D to showcase of emerging musical talent from New England. This year’s lineup features Tribe Society, Ruby Rose Fox, Will Dailey, Bearstronaut, Vundabar, Oh Malô, and Mikey Holland’s American Denim.
Free, Thursday, September 24, 5-10 p.m., rain date September 25, Lawn on D, 420 D St., lawnond.com.
Smithsonian Magazine’s Museum Day Live!
Smithsonian magazine is spreading the spirit of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington D.C., which offer free admission every day, throughout the country. On September 26, you can download a ticket—for you and one guest—that will grant free admission to participating institutions. Local establishments include the Mary Baker Eddy Library, Harvard Museum of Natural History, the Otis House, the MFA, the Museum of African American History, and more.
Free, Saturday, September 26, times and locations vary, tickets and full list of participating museums at smithsonianmag.com.
“Brick Factor” at Legoland Discovery Center
The Legoland Discovery Center in Somerville is looking for a new master model builder, a dream job that entails developing the center’s attractions and teaching workshops. The search is ongoing—applications will be accepted through September 13—but it all comes down to “Brick Factor,” a final showdown on September 26. The public is invited to the event, which will test finalists’ skills at creating Lego masterpieces under theme and time constraints. A new master model builder will be named by the end.
Free, Saturday, September 26, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Baxter Park at Assembly Row, Somerville, legolanddiscoverycenter.com.
Kids Really Rock at Lawn on D
There are plenty of concerts and music festivals in town, but it’s time for Boston kids to get a music series of their own. On September 26, the Lawn on D will host a day of performances by The Pop Ups, Josh and the Jamtones, Karen K and the Jitterbugs, and more. The event will have two stages, with 11 musicians set to perform throughout the day. Food trucks will be parked on the Lawn, and free healthy snacks will be provided as well. Kids are encouraged to bring along their favorite stuffed animals to the event, as We Art Boston will create stuffed animal portraits throughout the day, and special guest Snoopy will be available for photo ops.
Free, Saturday, September 26, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Lawn on D, 420 D St., lawnond.com.
Home to the beloved New England masterpiece, Somerville celebrates the tenth annual Fluff Festival on September 26. A cooking contest will feature both creative and traditional recipes using marshmallow goodness, but it won’t be just about fluff—musical and theatrical performances, games, and other participatory activities will also be featured.
Free, Saturday, September 26, 3-7 p.m., Union Square, Somerville, unionsquaremain.org.
Beantown Jazz Festival
Six blocks, three stages, one festival. The Beantown Jazz Festival returns with this year’s theme of “Jazz: The Voice of the People.” The event doesn’t just feature jazz music, though—Latin, blues, funk, and groove musicians will perform as well. The outdoor festival will also have food, drinks, art, crafts, face painting, and an instrument petting zoo.
Free, Saturday, September 26, 12-6 p.m., Columbus Avenue between Massachusetts Avenue and Burke Street, berklee.edu.
The Boston Freedom Rally
Now in its 26th year, the Boston Freedom Rally aims to end the prohibition of marijuana. The event will take place on the Boston Common, where there’ll be live music, vendors, speakers, and food. The two-day event begins at high noon on September 26 and 27.
Free, Saturday, September 26, to Sunday, September 27, noon, Boston Common, masscann.org.
Allston Village Street Fair
“Boston’s hippest multicultural festival” makes its way back to Allston. The event celebrates the Allston-Brighton neighborhood, while drawing residents and tourists from all over Boston into the community. In previous years, the fair has attracted crowds reaching 100,000 visitors. The event features live music on two outdoor stages, an international food court, family-friendly entertainment, and a vendors’ market. The day-long event will take place along Harvard Avenue.
Free, Sunday, September 27, 12-6 p.m., Harvard Avenue, Allston, allstonvillagestreetfair.com.
—Additional reporting by Olga Khvan