Free Things to Do in Boston, June 2013

This month, take part in a sculptural potluck, fly a kite on Spectacle Island, and check out a bunch of free exhibits and festivals.


Photo via ACoolerClimate/Flickr

Boston Pride Parade and Festival

Mayor Tom Menino was selected by popular vote to be this year’s Pride Parade Grand Marshal. The outgoing mayor has long supported the gay community, banning Chik-fil-A from Boston after the chain’s president spoke out against gay marriage. This year’s festival and parade will include food, beer, and even a free massages courtesy of Bearhawk Massage and the Meeting Point. Pop duo Karmin, who met at Berklee College of Music, will headline the festivities.

Saturday, June 8, noon-6 p.m., Copley Square to Government Center,


Salem Arts Festival

Outside of Halloween season, Salem is a brimming with dining, shopping, arts, and entertainment. This three-day arts festival will showcase the work of local artists, and you can check them all out for free. Live performances range from the musical, to the comedic (Accidentally on Purpose will perform live improv), to the poetic (spoken word courtesy of The Beats), and beyond (be sure to check out hoopdancing, a cappella, and the Witch City Bellydancers).

Friday-Sunday, June 7-9, various locations, Salem,


dragon boats

Photo via Joyosity/Flickr


Boston Dragon Boat Festival

Run like a panda, sting like a praying mantis—no, that’s not right. Swing like a monkey, scold like a tiger mom—nope, that’s definitely not right. Float like a butterfly, row like a dragon—OK, close enough. And anyway, let’s be honest, aside from the rowers, the Boston Dragon Boat Festival isn’t about fierce competition, but instead the casual enjoyment and celebration of culture. There will be music and dancing. There will be martial arts demos. And there will be yummy Asian food.

Saturday-Sunday, June 8-9, 8 a.m., Memorial Drive near Weeks Footbridge, Cambridge,


World Oceans Day at the New England Aquarium

To celebrate World Oceans Day, the NEAQ is hosting free, outdoor activities. The whole family can enjoy ocean mural-making, educational activities about seaweed and sea creatures, an oyster touch tank, and more. Adults can take notes at seafood cooking demos by chefs from the New England Aquarium, Beacon Hill Hotel and Bistro, City Landing, and Turner Fisheries. Maybe leave the kids elsewhere for those sessions—Nemo in a frying pan? Bring on the sobs. (Museum admission not included.)

Sunday, June 9, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Central Wharf,


Through the Listening Glass: A Concert by the MIT Glass Band

As one of the MIT Museum’s featured Second Fridays, the MIT Glass Band will perform three 30-minute shows on Friday, June 14. The band is joined by MIT Glass Lab artist-in-residence Mark Stewart, a musical instrument expert-designer, who worked with faculty and students to create unique instruments out of glass. The above video gives you a taste of what the lab has been experimenting with. And yes, we know, some of the instruments look like bongs, but it’s all in the name of art and science!

Friday, June 14, performances at 5:15 p.m., 6:15 p.m., and 7:15 p.m., MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge,


Sculptural Potluck by HarborArts and Bartlett Events

This one’s only free if you have paint cans or random art lying around. Here’s how it works: You bring empty paint cans, and together, everyone will create a community sculpture. And/or the following: You bring works of art, and barter with others in hopes of ending up with something more “you” than whatever you came with. Hey, is it just us, or are artists getting a little lazy these days? Kidding! ($10 donation suggested.)

Saturday-Sunday, June 15-16, noon-5 p.m. both days, at Bartlett Yards (Washington at Bartlett Streets in Roxbury) on Saturday and at HarborArts (Boston Harbor Shipyard, 256 Marginal St.) on Sunday, facebook


Convergence, an Exhibit by the Boston Sculptors Gallery at the Christian Science Plaza

All summer long, the Christian Science Plaza will be dotted with sculptures from the Boston Sculptors Gallery. Some have pretty clear meanings, e.g. Arabesque, the rather well-endowed Tiger Mothers. Others, such as Andy Zimmerman’s Liminal Bloom, require a little more edification. Thankfully, if you’re really curious, artists and curators will host free tours of the exhibit every week or so. Here are the dates in June:

Kinetic and Monumental, Saturday, June 15, 11 a.m.
An Arty Night Out, Friday, June 21, 8 p.m.
Art, Architecture, and the Landscape: A Conversation, June 29, 11 a.m.

Mary Eddy Baker Library, 200 Massachusetts Ave.,


Battle of Bunker Hill Day Parade

Celebrate the 238th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill at this annual parade. It’s the perfect patriotic primer for next month’s July 4th Independence Day celebrations. And because we want to be as authentic as possible, you can also look for ice cream, cotton candy, and other parade essentials.

Sunday, June 16, 12:30 p.m., starts at Vine and Bunker Hill Streets, ends at Winthrop St., Charlestown, facebook


Free Ferry Day to Georges or Spectacle Islands

Well this free event is pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? Ferries leave Long Wharf every half hour from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Return times are assigned based on departure time. Limited five per party. Check out Fort Warren on Georges Island or go hiking on Spectacle Island.

Tuesday, June 18, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Long Wharf to Georges or Spectacle Islands,


Go Fly a Kite

While ferries are free on June 18, many events on the Harbor Islands are free throughout the month (but nothing special on June 18—that’s just how they getcha, don’t they?) Most of the free events are family friendly, but here’s one that’ll give the kids something to remember in vivid technicolor: On June 22, you can go kite-flying on Spectacle Island. Bring your own or make one there (materials will be provided). But wait—are you saying you don’t have a bright pink butterfly kite lying around the house somewhere?

Saturday, June 22, 1:30 p.m., Spectacle Island,



Photo by Mark Fleming

Chinatown Main Street Festival

If you can’t make it to the Dragon Boat Festival this weekend, consider the Chinatown Main Street festival later this month. The event will include plenty of music, dancing, performances, a karaoke contest, and of course, local street vendors. $1 pork buns, yum!

Sunday, June 23, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Chinatown,


Free Fun Fridays

This summer, Highland Street Foundation is hosting 60 free fun Fridays during which six different venues will open their doors to visitors for free each week for 10 weeks. The series starts June 28 with the following six venues:

Freedom Trail Foundation
Mass MoCA
Stone Zoo
Worcester Art Museum
Heritage Museums & Gardens

Friday, June 28. For details about each, visit


Frog Pond Wading Pool Opening Celebration

Feels like yesterday those big winter storms froze the park over. But if the not-quite-a-heat-wave this past weekend didn’t convince you, then let the Frog Pond do it. The seventh annual opening celebration for the Frog Pond wading pool takes place June 29, and we can’t wait to run in and out of that big fountain spray.

Saturday, June 29, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., Boston Common Frog Pond,


OccupyING the Present

This exhibit turns the waterfront into an outdoor sculpture gallery. From a really big fish, to a twisty piece appropriately titled Nirvana and Dr. Seuss, to a big green knife (the better to hack up the big fish, my dear), OccupyING the Present adds a much-needed dose of whimsy to the neighborhood. And because we all know wandering the waterfront can lead the sore feet, keep an eye out for Design Museum Boston’s Street Seats. The innovative public benches are there for your viewing and bottom-resting pleasure.

Opening celebration Saturday, June 29, Boston Harbor Shipyard, 256 Marginal St.,


ParkARTS Watercolor Painting Workshops

“I’m going to learn how to paint.” …say a bajillion people who never get around to it. This month, get around to it, for free. You can thank whoever the local Leslie Knope is of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department for hosting ParkARTS Watercolor Painting Workshops, where lessons are free and materials are provided by Blick Art Materials.

Saturdays and Sundays through June 23, noon-2 p.m., various locations,


The Art Institute of Boston: Celebrating 100 Years

In honor of the Art Institute’s centennial, an exhibit of work by faculty and students is on display at the Boston Public Library. Check out prints, drawings, and photographs by talented artists of AIB past and present. Dating back to 1949, the collection includes selections from the institute’s advanced printmaking class throughout the years. The portfolios live in the BPL’s permanent collection, and the instructor’s own work is featured in the current exhibit.

Through June 29, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St.,


Rethinking Tradition: Portraits in Glass by Joseph Cavalieri

In this free exhibit, artist Joseph Cavalieri creates bold images of everyone from Jackie O. to Bart Simpson. Having previously art directed at GQ, People, and Good Housekeeping magazines, Cavalieri knows how to grab people with colorful graphics. All the pieces in this exhibit are made of glass.

Tuesdays-Saturdays throughout June, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., SAC Exhibition Gallery, 175 Newbury St.,



Photo via Flash Forward Festival

The Fence Photography Exhibition

As part of the Flash Forward Festival, the Fence photography exhibition is currently on view at the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The 500-foot-long strip of artwork displays works shot by a diverse group of photographers, including some from Boston. The theme of the this year’s Fence is “community.”

Throughout June, Rose Kennedy Greenway,