Free Things to Do in Boston, October 2014

Check out free events happening in the area this month, including Halloween events, the Boston Book Fest, Head of the Charles, and more.

canine promenade

Father Finnegan’s pope costume won first place for individual costume at the 2013 Canine Promenade. / Photo by Margaret Burdge

ArtWeek Boston

Currently in full swing, ArtWeek Boston is a citywide set of events that celebrate all branches of the arts, from visual to performing and beyond. The series runs through October 5, with many free and open to the public, including the Edgar Allan Poe statue dedication, sketch nights, workshops, gallery events, and more.

Check website for various events, through October 5,

Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo 2014

Abbreviated MICE, this expo offers comic nerds and casual readers alike a fun weekend of activities including panels, workshops, and exhibitions. The fifth annual event will showcase the best of local comics, so swing through to see great works and meet the artists behind them.

Free, October 4-5, University Hall at Lesley University, 1815 Massachusetts Ave.,

Museums on Us (Bank of America and Merrill Lynch Cardholders Only)

Unfortunately this one’s only for BoA and Merrill Lynch cardholders. As part of their Museums on Us program, select museums are free on certain weekends. On October 4 and 5, find free admission at the MFA, MIT Museum, Battleship Cove in Fall River, American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, and Provincetown Art Association and Museum.

Free, October 4-5,

Boston Fashion Week

True, many of the fashion shows during BFW are pricey, but plenty of them are also free and open to the public. The Copley Catwalk on October 6, for instance, is a free fashion show right in in the middle of Copley Place. Ministry of Supply, a brand that blends tech with fashion, will host an open house on October 8.

Check website for various events, October 5-11,

Honk! Festival

The annual “festival of activist street bands” returns the weekend of October 11. Look forward to plenty of music and other forms of live entertainment in Davis Square, with emphasis on brass because, well, it ain’t called Honk! for nothing. Performances and activities will take place throughout the city, with the main events on Saturday and Sunday in Davis Square. Read more.

Free, October 10-12, most events in Davis Square, Somerville,

Columbus Day Celebration at Christopher Columbus Park

It would be silly not to celebrate Columbus Day at the park named after the explorer. Family-friendly events include a parade, games, and live entertainment from Big Joe the Storyteller, Jenny the Juggler, and Peter the Magician.

Free, October 13, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Christopher Columbus Park, Boston,

Opening Our Doors Festival

Also taking place on Columbus Day is Fenway Alliance’s annual Opening Our Doors celebration. Not only will there be plenty of public activities happening throughout the neighborhood, but institutions like the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Mary Baker Eddy, and other spots will open their doors—get it?—to the public for free open houses. The party kicks off at 10 a.m. at the Christian Science Plaza near Huntington at Massachusetts Avenues.

Free, October 13, various locations, kick-off at Christian Science Plaza, Huntington at Massachusetts Avenues,

Fall Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts

While visiting the MFA’s fall open house on Columbus Day, don’t forget to check out the new exhibit “Shinique Smith: Bright Matter” as well as the forthcoming “Goya: Order and Disorder” exhibit, which opens October 12.

Free, October 13, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston,

Head of the Charles Regatta

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the HOCR, an event that gathers the world’s best rowers in one place: our beloved Charles River. While the athletes duke it out on the water, you can cheer from either side of the river, shop from top vendors, and pretend you actually know what the heck is going on. #Coxswain.

Free, October 18-19,

Pumpkin Festival in Boston Common

Oh, you didn’t think we forgot about Halloween, did you? BYO pumpkin (max. size, 8 inches in diameter, hollowed out) to the Frog Pond at Boston Common for the second annual Pumpkin Festival. It’s quite a sight: hundreds of jack-o’-lantern luminaries floating into the pond. Before you know it, the pond will be frozen over for the annual holiday ice skating show.

Free, October 19, 4:30-6:40 p.m., Frog Pond in Boston Common,

A Cappella Competition at Faneuil Hall

Depending on how you feel about it, this event will either be aca-awesome or aca-annoying. A cappella groups from throughout New England will compete for cash prizes up to $500. Last year’s winners were Northeastern’s Nor’Easters.

Free, October 18-19, 12-4 p.m., Faneuil Hall, Boston,

Boston Book Festival

The annual festival celebrates all things literary and only gets better with age. The 2014 lineup includes more than 150 speakers including plenty of nationally known authors—featured speakers include Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame. The challenge of BBF is not figuring out what to see, it’s how to see it all.

Free, October 25, Copley Square, Boston,

Boston Vegetarian Food Festival

You might think a vegetarian festival can’t possibly be enjoyable, but the BVFF is actually not unlike other food fests around town. In fact, it’s better than a lot of them. You’ll find samples galore from local vendors as well as bigger more familiar brands. Those interested in learning more might also enjoy checking out specific presenters and cooking demos.

Free, October 25, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., October 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont St., Boston,

Canine Promenade

Puppies in costume—that’s really all you need to know. It costs $15 to register your pup, but the spectacle is at once both free and priceless. Owners dress up and parade their dogs around the Esplanade—a quick half-mile—and compete for prizes. Owners often dress up with their beloved pets too, so keep an eye out for adorable inseparable duos. Check out photos from last year.

Free, October 26, 12-2 p.m., Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, Boston,

SoWa’s Market of the Living Dead

SoWa’s last open market of the season each year is also one of its best. Rivaled only by its special indoor holiday market later in the year, the Halloween event is possibly Boston’s most impressive costume contest. Guests are welcome to compete, but just know that you’ll have to face off against talented enthusiastic artist/vendors whose costumes are as intricate and well-made as they come.

Free, October 26, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 460 Harrison Ave., Boston,