Free Things to Do in Boston, February

renee-flemingRenee Fleming photo via HyundaiCardWeb/Flickr

Valentine’s Day gifts for friends, family, and lovers don’t come cheap, so spend your weekdays and weekends attending some or all of these events for a chance to soak in a bit of music, art, and culture—for free. Check out what’s happening:

Renee Fleming Master Class: Very rarely will you get the chance to meet a Grammy-Award-winning artist for free. Soprano Renee Fleming will belt it out alongside the Dunster Opera House Society this Saturday in a master class at Harvard. She will also answer questions from the audience.

(Free with ticket due to limited seating) Saturday, February 2, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Memorial Hall, Harvard University, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge, 617-496-2222,

First Saturday Open Studios: If you feel like getting out of the city for a bit, check out the works of more than 225 artists at First Saturday Open Studios at Western Avenue Artist Studios in Lowell. See paintings, photographs, handcrafted jewelry, sculptures, pottery, glass masterpieces, and more. Parking is free.

Saturday, February 2, 12-5 p.m., Western Avenue Artist Studios, 122 Western Ave., Lowell, 978-710-8605,

St. John’s Wednesday Concert Series: This coming Wednesday, as part of the Church of St. John Evangelist’s “Wednesday Concert Series,” Julian Drummond will perform piano pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and Shostakovich. The event is free for all ages.

Wednesday, February 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Church of St. John Evangelist, 35 Bowdoin St., Boston, 617-227-5242,

Julie Otsuka Q&A and Reading: A recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Asian American Literary Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award, Julie Otsuka will be at Emerson College for a Q&A and reading. She is known for her works When the Emperor Was Divine and The Buddha in the Attic, a finalist for the National Book Award.

Thursday, February 7, Q&A at 4 p.m. in the Charles Beard Room, 80 Boylston St., Emerson College, and reading at 8 p.m., in the Bill Bordy Theater, 216 Tremont St.,

Art + Alchemy: The Aesthetic Chemistry of United South End Artists: From now through February 9, the United South End Artists, Inc., and Gold Gallery will display artwork from a select 10 talented artists within the neighborhood.

Until February 9, gallery hours are Wednesday-Saturday, 12-7 p.m., and Sunday, 12-5 p.m., Gold Gallery, 655 Tremont St., Boston, 857-239-8972,

Valentine’s Day Jewelry and Boutique Show: Ten local artists will display their handmade jewelry and other items, and the exhibition will include hand-shaped porcelain, bronze castings, a number of vintage trinkets, and unique accessories that likely make for excellent Valentine’s gifts. Refreshments will be available.

Saturday, February 9, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Stove Factory Studios, 523 Medford St., Boston,

Lincoln & Liberty, Too: The Massachusetts Historical Society will offer guests the chance to examine the events leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment in a discussion led by William Martin, author of The Lincoln Letter. On the eve of Lincoln’s birthday, celebrate the achievements of he who was arguably one of the most benevolent presidents at this free, engaging, and educational lecture.

Monday, February 11, 6-7:30 p.m., Massachusetts Historical Society, 1154 Boylston St., Boston, 617-646-0560,

Celebrating The Feminine Mystique: Boston University will host a panel of experts across the nation in celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Feminine Mystique, the 1963 book about women who dealt with “limited life options” in the workforce and elsewhere. The event is free and open to the public, but spaces are limited and registration is required.

Tuesday, February 12, 7 p.m., Boston University School of Management Auditorium, 595 Commonwealth Avenue, 1st Floor, Boston,

Valentine’s Day Showing at the Boston Public Library: Get in the mood for romance just before the holiday with this free showing of the 2010 romantic comedy Valentine’s Day starring every other celeb in Hollywood and a mix of funny, love-filled story lines. Great for teens and above. Rated PG, 105 minutes.

Wednesday, February 13, 3-5 p.m., West End Branch of Boston Public Library, 151 Cambridge St., Boston, 617-523-3957,

NEC Philharmonia & Loebel: Perhaps a good early Valentine’s Day surprise would be to take a loved one to this free culturally enriched Hungarian concert. The program features David Loebel, who will conduct the NEC Philharmonic in Ernest von Dohnányi’s Suite in F-Sharp Minor, a piece that has been called “pure enchantment,” as well as Bartók Piano Concierto and Zoltan Kodály’s Galanta Dances, folk dances from the area that is now part of Slovakia.

Wednesday, February 13, 8 p.m., New England Conservatory, 30 Gainsborough St., Boston, 617-585-1148,

Valentine’s Day Parents’ Night Out: For all those with kiddos, if you’re thinking of taking a romantic evening to yourselves on Valentine’s Day, head down to The Children’s Workshop, where childcare, entertainment, and snacks will be provided for your youngsters while you enjoy the evening. Free for the community, but RSVP by Thursday, February 7.

Thursday, February 14, 6-8 p.m., The Children’s Workshop, 475 Winter St., Waltham, 781-466-8640,

The Boston Ballet at the Strand: In partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events, artist director Mikko Nissinen of the Boston Ballet will present a free performance for the general public featuring professional and student dancers.

Friday, February 15, 7 p.m., Strand Theatre, 543 Columbia Road, Boston, 617-635-3911,

North End Opera Concert: For the second year in a row, the North End Music and Performing Arts Center will offer the public a free opera concert of “Amore,” a show fittingly filled with singing and love. A “Wine & Chocolates” reception with the performers will follow the show.

Friday, February 15, 7:30-8:45 p.m., Old North Church, 193 Salem St., Boston, 617-227-2270,

8th Annual Handmade Scarf Show: This month, surely we could all use a scarf or two to shield ourselves from the icy air. Why not be a tad more artsy? The Dahlia Gallery will be hosting the 8th Annual Handmade Scarf Show this month, showing the works of textile artists, including those of Carter Smith, Betsy Giberson, and more. Each and every scarf is one-of-a-kind.

Saturday, February 2-Friday, February 15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Dahlia Gallery, 97 Union St., Newton, 617-527-4456,

Meet Discovery Star Greg Skomal: This month’s Dive Club meeting at the New England Aquarium will be a discussion on whale sharks of the Red Sea. The Discovery Channel’s Greg Skomal, a notable shark researcher will shed light on the 60+ whale sharks tagged in the area. The meeting will be held in the Harborside Learning Lab and is free for teens and up.

Wednesday, February 20, 7 p.m., New England Aquarium, Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200,

Arab Spring Photography Exhibit: See photographs by renowned French photojournalist Remi Ochlik, killed in February 2012 in Homs during the Syrian uprising. This exhibit depicts several “stirring” and “pivotal” events including the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions.

Until February 22, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., The Art Institute of Boston, 700 Beacon St., Boston, 617-585-6600,

Shipwright Guild Ship Model Show: To commemorate 200 years of peace between the U.S. and the U.K., this War-of-1812-themed exhibit will show off several ship models (including War of 1812 vessels and ships-in-bottles) crafted by the members of the USS Constitution Model Shipwright Guild.

Saturday, February 2-March 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., USS Constitution Museum, 24 Fifth St., Boston, 617-426-1812,

Connections North Exhibit: From tomorrow until April 20, experience Connections North: Bridges of the West End. The exhibit looks back at the influence of bridges in Boston, especially the Charles River Bridge, before which people had to travel by foot (approximately 8 miles) or by the Charlestown ferry to get to Cambridge. Connections North includes a timeline of about 300 years and explores the influences of bridges in the Charles River area and within the city as a whole.


Saturday, February 2 through April 20, 12-5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays, West End Museum, 150 Staniford St., Boston, 617-723-2125,

“The Space in Between” Satellite Exhibit: The Boston Properties Atlantic Wharf Gallery will be showcasing The Space in Between exhibit, with art that sheds light on “societal built environments in urban settings.” Photographs will depict empty public places, encouraging the viewer to think about the absence of human subjects and the “space in between” the structures.

Until March 22, 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Boston Properties Atlantic Warf Gallery, 290 Congress St., Boston, 617-975-0600,