Free Things to Do in Boston, June 2014

Check out these free events happening in Boston this month, including World Oceans Day at the NEAQ, 'The Great Race' in Lowell, and more.

the great race

“The Great Race” will bring antique, vintage, and collector cars to Lowell later this month. More info below. / “The Great Race” photo by Gregg Jerdingen on Flickr

“Concerts in the Courtyard” at the BPL

Otherwise a quiet oasis from the hustle and bustle of Copley Square and Boylston Street, the McKim Courtyard at the Boston Public Library transforms into a mini outdoor concert hall for “Concerts in the Courtyard” in the summer. Twice a week—Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 12:30 p.m.—select performers will play for BPL visitors throughout the season starting June 4 with the Daniel Rotem Trio. Full lineup.

Free, Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 12:30 p.m., June 4-August 29, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., 617-536-5400,

Salem Arts Festival

Salem’s arts scene will shine front and center during the weekend of the Salem Arts Festival, when visual artists, musicians, dancers, and more will show off their work. For the first time, this year’s festival has a central theme: “Spice!” While you’re at the festival, be sure to stroll down Artists’ Row to see HulaArt, a public art project for which kids created art out of hula hoops.

Free, Friday-Sunday, June 6-8, Downtown Salem, 987-744-0004,

Cultural Survival Bazaar

Head to Copley Square on June 7 to see arts and crafts made by indigenous people from around the world. You’ll find everything here from jewelry and clothing to housewares and rugs. The goal of the event is to connect consumers with the artisans directly, allowing for the ultimate in fair trade. But even if you aren’t looking to buy, visit Copley anyway to see the work, interact with the vendors, and enjoy free live music and dancing from cultural groups like Kawika Alfiche and Halau ʻo Keikialiʼi, Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers, and more.

Free, Saturday, June 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Copley Square, Boston, 617-441-5400,

Cambridge River Festival

Not quite the “River” festival this year, construction and conflicting events have prompted the 35th annual edition of the Cambridge River Festival to relocate temporarily. “The move to Central Square will further expose the dynamic nature of the city’s downtown Cultural District and provide opportunities to involve new partners and audiences for the event,” says executive director Jason Weeks. The daylong party will include live music, dancing, food, art activities, and more.

Free, Saturday, June 7, 12-6 p.m., Massachusetts Ave. and Sidney St., Central Square, Cambridge, 617-349-4380,

“Assembled” at Assembly Row

This handmade arts market will take place weekly all summer long at the new Assembly Row complex in Somerville. Also free at Assembly Row this summer: yoga and boot camp lessons twice a week. Learn more.

Free, Saturdays, June 7-September 13, 11-3 p.m., Assembly Row, 100 Foley St., Somerville,

World Oceans Day at the NEAQ

Join the New England Aquarium for a day of activities on World Oceans Day. This year’s celebration will include cooking demos, art activities, and even free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at noon. Kids and adults will learn a thing or two about “living blue,” all while engaging in fun activities like an augmented reality sandbox. Note: Events take place outside the aquarium at Central Wharf, and does not include admission to the aquarium.

Free, Sunday, June 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., New England Aquarium, 1 Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200,

“Summer in the City” at the Boston Harbor Hotel

This month also marks the beginning of the Boston Harbor Hotel’s free summer series “Summer in the City.” On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights, enjoy live music performances, and finish off the week on Fridays with classic movie screenings. “Three nights of music and one movie seems to be the best fit for our audience,” says BHH general manager Stephen Johnston, whose own kids are excited to see this month’s first film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Full lineup.

Free, Tuesdays-Fridays, June 12-August 29, various times in the evenings, Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 617-856-7744,

Boston Festival of Bands

This free day of performances at Faneuil Hall has been taking place for 26 years. Different groups play every hour, and it’s “not so much a competition,” says event coordinator Tim Sliski of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony. Rather, it’s simply a great opportunity for the ensembles to meet one another, while performing for thousands of people passing through Fan Hall. “It’s nonstop music from morning to night playing a mix of classical, patriotic, and pop,” says Sliski.

Free, Saturday, June 14, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., 1 Faneuil Hall Square, Boston,

Health and Fitness Expo

It’s been a while since that New Year’s resolution—have you been staying fit? Consider this month’s Health and Fitness Expo, hosted by Boston Medical Center, a six-month checkup. The free expo at Hynes Convention Center will include free health screenings, fitness activities, cooking demos, and more.

Free, Saturday-Sunday, June 14-15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston,,

Chelsea Art Walk

Chelsea’s version of open studios, the Chelsea Art Walk takes you to several of the area’s galleries and other venues to experience the area’s visual art, theater, and historical exhibits. Stop by New England Sculpture to see how bronze statues are made, and visit Mystic Brewery for art with beer tasting.

Free, Saturday-Sunday, June 14-15, 12-6 p.m., 100 Pearl St., Chelsea, 617-875-3188,

Boston Dragon Boat Festival

The Charles will be taken over by dragons later this month—dragon boats, that is—during the annual Boston Dragon Boat Festival. OK, so it’s not the Head of the Charles, but as you cheer on the final races on Sunday, do so from the Cambridge side near Weeks Bridge, where a festival will include traditional dance performances, live music, and martial arts demos.

Free, races on Saturday-Sunday, June 14-15, festival on Sunday, 12-5 p.m., Charles River along Memorial Drive near Weeks Bridge, Cambridge,

Make Music Harvard Square / Fête de la Musique

For the seventh year, Harvard Square will join the worldwide Fête de la Musique—also called the worldwide celebration of music—which originated more than 30 years ago in Paris. Several spots around Harvard Square will host musical performances of all genres this afternoon and evening, making it an especially lively time to stroll around the area and see the event’s slogan “Make music,” take hold.

Free, Saturday, June 21, 2-9 p.m., various locations around Harvard Square, Cambridge,

The Great Race in Lowell

Classic automobiles will roll through Lowell later in June for The Great Race, a competitive controlled-speed endurance road rally on public highways with antique, vintage, and collector cars. The racers stop in various locations between Maine and Florida, and one of this year’s overnight stops is in Lowell, where visitors can cheer on the racers and check out their sweet rides. There are plenty of other events lighting up Lowell the same weekend, notes Merrimack Valley’s executive director Deb Belanger, including the kickoff of the 25th annual Lowell Summer Music Series.

Free, Saturday, June 21, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Downtown Lowell, 978-459-6150,

Out of the Park

The Red Sox, City of Boston, and Highland Street Foundation are giving people a new way to watch away games this summer with three “Out of the Park” events, where local public parks are transformed into Yawkey Way. Away games are broadcast live on a big screen, while Wally the Green Monster, the official Fenway DJ, and more entertain the masses. Plus, free franks and ice cream—what’s not to like? “[The events] really line up with Highland Street’s efforts to provide access to communities,” says HSF executive director Blake Jordan. This month’s event takes place at Franklin Park in Dorchester. Learn more.

Free, Sunday, June 22, 4:05 p.m., Franklin Park, Dorchester,

Chinatown Main Street Festival

If you can’t make it out to the Dragon Boat Festival, consider stopping by Chinatown for the annual Main Street Festival instead. The event will include a lion dance, karaoke competition, Chinese folk dance, and calligraphy demo.

Free, Sunday, June 22, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Chinatown, Boston,

“Urban Timber” at the BSA

The BSA Space’s newest installation, “Urban Timber: From Seed to City,” celebrates “the region’s most sensible and abundant choice of material for urban building while highlighting its flexibility and technical qualities.” The exhibit will present numerous innovative uses of timber and will be accompanied by public workshops and lectures throughout the summer.

Free, June 26-September 30, opening reception on June 26, 6-8 p.m., BSA Space, 290 Congress St., Boston, 617-391-4000,

Free Fun Fridays

The annual series put on by Highland Street Foundation kicks off this month with free admission Friday, June 27, to the following venues: the Franklin Park Zoo, the Cape Cod Maritime Museum, the Worcester Art Museum, Tanglewood, the Sports Museum, Mass MoCA, and the MIT Museum. Plus, mark your calendars for all 66 Free Fun Fridays this summer. And remember: the MFA is always free on Wednesday nights after 4 p.m., and the ICA is always free Thursdays from 5 to 9 p.m.

Free, Fridays, June 27-August 29, various times and locations,