Free Things to Do in Boston, October 2013

This month, reap the benefits of ArtWeek Boston, feed your literary cravings at the Boston Book Festival, and celebrate Halloween at SoWa's 10th annual Market of the Living Dead—all for free!

W Boston/Design Museum

If you spent time by Fort Point Channel this summer, you may have noticed that the seating options were a little more stylish than usual. That’s because Design Museum Boston challenged artists from around the world to design fun and innovative public seating, and the 20 semi-finalists were put on display back in April. For ArtWeek Boston, Design Museum Boston will host a special event at the W where you can check out the concept models, meet some of the local designers, and even make your own designs at a workshop bar.

MORE: Design Museum Boston’s Street Seats Challenge

October 1, 6:30-8:30 p.m., W Boston, 100 Stuart St.,

The Colors of India

As part of ArtWeek, Dover Rug & Home sponsors The Colors of India, where you can learn about Indian culture and the 2,000-year-old art of rug-making. The event will include a Q&A by experts at Dover, as well as Indian food, drinks, and music. Plus, guests will receive $100 gift certificates to Dover Rug & Home (good for purchases of $1000 or more).

October 1 and October 3, 6:30-9 p.m., American Islamic Congress, 38 Newbury St.,

Creative Conversation: Where Art and Ideas Collide

The first week of October isn’t just ArtWeek; it’s also Idea Week. And the two are joining forces to bring you a creative conversation Pecha Kucha-style, meaning speakers can go on for three minutes max and 10 slides only, i.e. keeping presentations short and sweet. Because we all know: anything more than 10 PowerPoint slides is an automatic snooze-fest.

October 2, 10:30 a.m.-noon, Fort Point Room, Atlantic Wharf Building, 290 Congress St.,

Amy Sillman at the ICA

Amy Sillman’s exhibit one lump or two will premiere at the Institute of Contemporary Art the first week of October, which means that it’s time to take advantage of the ICA’s free Thursday nights. More than 90 of Sillman’s works will be on display, including drawings, paintings, and even animated film. “Silman is central to the resurgence of public and critical interest in painting and abstraction today,” says the ICA’s Jill Medvedow. So don’t miss your chance to experience this artist’s “emotional, awkward, and energetic” work.

Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., October 3-January 5, Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave.,


Are you a photo snob who carries massive lenses with your SLR everywhere you go? Or are you a foodie who Instagrams every meal with your iPhone? Either way, take your tool of choice to Photorama this Thursday at the Cyclorama for a night of mixing, mingling, and large-scale projections of select photography.

October 3, 7-11 p.m., The Cyclorama, 539 Tremont St.,

Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston

Boston is still running, despite the Boston Marathon bombings, and two artists from BU are proving it with a project called Still Running: An Art Marathon for Boston. The duo are hosting community art projects for the public to take part in, and the resulting works will be displayed, given away, and/or sold for funds to support hospitals, first responders, and so on. During ArtWeek, you can take part in Still Running by donating your time and creativity to make some well-deserved thank-you art.

October 4-6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Commonwealth Gallery, 885 Commonwealth Ave.,

Roxbury Open Studios

This weekend is the return of Roxbury Open Studios, during which you can check out some of Roxbury’s art scene for free, from Basil El-Halwagy’s “fine arts superheroes” at the Roxbury Crossing MBTA Station, to the opening reception at the Museum of the National Center of Afro American Artists, to writing workshops by Grub Street, and more.

October 4-6, various times and locations,

boston ballet night of stars 2013 photo review

Photo by Olga Khvan for ‘A Night of Stars’

Boston Ballet Open House

The company celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and for ArtWeek, the Boston Ballet will open up their recently renovated South End studios to the public. Take part in a master class taught by a company dancer, tours of the studios, and a chance to get up close and personal with costumes. Space is limited, RSVP recommended.

PLUS: Check out our October feature, Turning Point, about the Boston Ballet and artistic director Mikko Nissinen.

October 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Boston Ballet, 19 Clarendon St.,

The Jungle Book Story Hour

Following their 2 p.m. matinee musical, the Jungle Book crew at the Huntington Theatre will host an interactive storytelling session. Kids will act out stories, adults can help supply animal noises, and artists will assist with face-painting, coloring, and more.

MORE: Check out the turbans used in The Jungle Book.

October 5, 4:15 p.m., Huntington Theatre Company, 264 Huntington Ave.,

Grow Your Own: Mushrooms

As part of its Seed, Sow & Grow series, the Boston Natural Areas Network will teach you how to grow your own mushrooms this Saturday. The demo will focus on how to grow shiitake mushrooms on hardwood logs. Registration required.

October 5, 10 a.m.-noon, City Natives, 30 Edgewater Drive, Mattapan,

CrossFit in the Back Bay

Every Saturday, all month long, City Sports will host free Crossfit sessions at Reebok Back Bay, so hop on the trend and see for yourself what Crossfit is all about. The introductory sessions will include a team workout, a lecture on the background of Crossfit, and a cool-down with a physical therapist. RSVP required.

PLUS: Tried Crossfit? Love it? Want more? Here’s a roundup of Crossfit locations in the Boston-area.

Saturdays, October 5-26, noon-1 p.m., Reebok Crossfit Back Bay, 31 St. James Ave. #190,

Science and Cooking

Harvard is offering the public free lectures this season inspired by the general education course “Science and Cooking: From Haute Cuisine to the Science of Soft Matter.” No credit will be offered for these free talks and demos; the only reward is knowledge and a good time. October’s events will focus on “Playing with Taste through Browning,” “Viscosity & Polymers,” “Elasticity,” and “Emulsions: Concepts of Stabilizing Oil & Water.” (And mark your calendar for November 4, when Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery will discuss “The Science of Sweets.”)

MORE: Check out Chefology, our series on the marriage of science and cooking, as told by real-life married couple Scott Jones and Ben Wolfe.

Mondays, October 7-28, 7 p.m., Harvard Science Center, One Oxford St., Cambridge,

Play Me, I’m Yours

If you haven’t already been pleasantly surprised by the colorful street pianos scattered across Boston, keep an eye out. To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Celebrity Series of Boston, the organization asked British artist Luke Jerram to bring his internationally successful Play Me, I’m Yours installation to Boston. Seventy-five uprights are hidden in plain sight across the city now until October 14, so if you do happen to come across one of them, don’t be shy to tickle those ivories.

October 1-14, various locations,

Boston Book Festival

The Boston Book Festival is undoubtedly one of the city’s greatest fall festivals. Writers and book lovers galore gather at Copley Square every year to enjoy the best of literature in Boston and beyond. More than 150 presenters will host author talks, writing workshops, live entertainment, and more. This year’s guest speakers include Salman Rushdie, Chuck Klosterman, Wes Craven, and many more heavy hitters. If you’re feeling brave enough, submit a piece to Writer Idol, where it will be read out loud to the audience and a panel of judges. Want to take part in this year’s One City One Story? Pick up a copy of “Karma” by Rishi Reddi (or download it here), and join in on the community discussion at the festival.

October 17-19, Copley Square and nearby locations,

You Can Pickle That?

Yes, yes you can. Later this month, enjoy a free cooking class with Nightingale Community Garden’s Elnora Thompson, who will show you how to pickle your harvest to preserve vegetables throughout winter. The event is BYO jar and lid. (How else will you carry home your freshly pickled veggies?) Registration required.

MORE: You Can Pickle That! Tips and step-by-step instructions, from our September issue.

October 19, 9-11 a.m., Nightingale Community Garden, 512 Park St., Dorchester,

49th Annual Head of the Charles Regatta

The Head of the Charles is the largest two-day regatta in the world, where more than 9,000 rowers gather to compete in more than 50 events. Head down to the Charles River and experience one of the most high-profile sporting events in Boston. Keep your eye out for the Champions Fours and Champion Eights races on Sunday, where the cream of the crop will compete for HOCR bragging rights.

October 19-20, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Charles River between the BU Boathouse (start) and the NEU Boathouse (just beyond the finish),

Chiara String Quartet

Oh, classical music, how humdrum. But the Chiara String Quartet is something to behold. This group has a penchant for performing in bars and other small spaces, inspired by their slogan, “Chamber music in any chamber.” In addition to being the coolest string quartet you’ve never heard of, they’re also artists-in-residence at Harvard. On October 25, they’ll perform pieces by Haydn and Dvorak. Tickets required.

October 25, 8 p.m., Paine Concert Hall at Harvard University, One Oxford St., Cambridge,

12th Annual Pumpkin Float

Take the whole family out for the 12th annual Pumpkin Float. Dozens of jack-o’-lanterns carved out, lit up, and sent down Davenport Creek? It’s a beautiful sight to see.

October 26, 5:30 p.m., Neponset River Greenway, Pope John Paul II Park, Hallet St. Entrance, Dorchester,

3rd Annual Canine Promenade

Puppies in costumes parading around the Esplanade… need we say more? Well, actually, yes. It’s actually $15 per ticket per dog if you want the goodie bags and whatnot. However, if you’re only interested in attending and watching the parade go by, that’s free (and priceless).

October 26, noon-2 p.m., Charles River Esplanade in front of the Hatch Shell,

SoWa’s 10th Annual Market of the Living Dead

Ready for Dia de Los Muertos? That’s the theme of this year’s 10th Annual Market of the Living Dead, hosted by your friendly neighborhood SoWa Open Market. You wouldn’t expect SoWa, known for its adorable arts and crafts, to host one of Boston’s best Halloween celebrations. Yet, year after year, they take the ghoulish day to new levels. The popular open market celebrates every year like pros, with intricate costumes (they’re craftspeople, after all), devilish dishes and treats (look for Halloween-themed food trucks), and perhaps the best costume contest around. (For a close contender, see the previous event.)

October 27, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 450-540 Harrison Ave.,