Free Things to Do in Boston, January 2015

For those who resolved to 'be more frugal.'

weston ski track

Snowshoe activities are free at Weston Ski Track this month for Winter Trails Day. / Photo by Elizabeth Lloyd on Flickr

Lawn on D’s Fire and Ice Festival

Thanks to unseasonably warm weather, the Lawn on D’s “Winter on D” festivities, originally planned for December, were delayed one week. Too bad this weekend’s forecast might be all too seasonal. Those who brave potential rain, sleet, and snow will find free fun in the form of a giant ice maze, fire art performances by the A.R.T., chowder samples from Legal Sea Foods, and much more.

Free, Friday-Sunday, January 2-4, various times, 420 D St., Boston,

Snowflake Festival at Brookline Arts Center

Celebrate the BAC’s 50th anniversary—with cake!—at their annual open house. Artsy activities include cookie decorating, paper crafts, and more. Two workshops—for ages 12 and older—will teach visitors how to make their own bangles and monoprints.

Free, Saturday, January 3, 12-4 p.m., Brookline Arts Center, 86 Monmouth St., Brookline, 617-566-5715,

Learn to Meditate at Shambhala Boston

For those who resolved to lead a more mindful 2015, consider an introductory meditation session at Shambhala Boston. The weekly course is always the same, always for beginners, so don’t be shy about dropping in.

Free ($10 suggested donation), Sundays, 12:30-1:30 p.m., 646 Brookline Ave., Brookline, 617-734-1498,

Free Sessions at Artisan’s Asylum

Each Wednesday the community center in Somerville hosts two fun free sessions. One is Free Circuit Hacking Night, an electronics lab with a free introductory soldering lesson, kits for sale, and experienced hackers and engineers on hand to help you out. Another option is Free Fiber Arts Work Night, where instead of wires and outlets, you’ll work with yarn and other textiles. Bring your own projects or start a new one.

Free, Wednesdays, 6-8 p.m., 10 Tyler St., Somerville, 617-284-6878,

Public Open Night at BU Observatory

Wednesday nights at the BU Observatory are free and open to the public, but only if Mother Nature will play nice. The Observatory recommends that you call ahead two hours beforehand, just in case.

Free, Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m., Coit Observatory at BU, 725 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, 617-353-2630,

Winter Trails Day

To help get you in the winter sporting spirit, various snowshoeing and cross-country skiing sites across the country will offer freebies and discounts on Winter Trails Day. For the most part, free lessons and equipment rentals are reserved for newbies, while others will find half-price discounts and other deals.

Deals vary, Saturday, January 10, various locations,

Winter Wellness Walk at Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard is always free, but for a more structured stroll, join this Sunday afternoon tour for a brisk walk featuring an emphasis on fitness and factoids, led by trained Arboretum docents.

Free, Sunday, January 11, 1-1:45 p.m., 125 Arborway, Boston, 617-524-1718,

Observatory Night at Harvard

An alternative to BU’s open Observatory Nights are those at Harvard, which take place once a month along with a free public “nontechnical lecture.” This month’s speaker is C. Renee James, author of Science Unshackled. Note that observatory viewing only takes place if the weather permits.

Free, Thursday, January 15, 7:30 p.m., Phillips Auditorium, 60 Garden St., Cambridge, 617-495-7461,

Taste of Chocolate Festival in Harvard Square

Harvard Square will celebrate chocolate all weekend for their annual Taste of Chocolate Fest, but while most of the chocolate-y specials will be found at area restaurants, stop by on Saturday afternoon for the free samples.

Free, Saturday, January 24, 1-2 p.m., Deguglielmo Plaza in front of Hidden Sweets, 25 Brattle St., Cambridge,

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Open House at the MFA

In addition to exploring the museum’s collections for free, visitors on MLK Jr. Day can also enjoy special performances and activities celebrating King’s legacy. Don’t forget: the MFA offers free admission every Wednesday evening all year round as well.

Free, Monday, January 19, 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m., 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, 617-267-9300,

Free Thursday Nights at the ICA

While the MFA’s free on Wednesday nights, the ICA offers free admission every Thursday evening. Stop by this month to check out Adriana Varejão’s work, which explores anthropophagy, the concept of cultural cannibalism.

Free, Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., 100 Northern Ave., Boston, 617-478-3100,

Berklee High School Jazz Festival

Berklee College of Music is quite the jazz hub. While the popular BeanTown Jazz Festival isn’t until September, you can still get your fill of lively—and competitive—jazz performances this month at the Berklee High School Jazz Fest, where ensembles of all sizes will Duke Ellington it out (sorry, had to) for partial scholarships to Berklee’s Five-Week Summer Performance Program.

Free, Saturday, January 31, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston,

2015 Ship Model Show

Opening on January 1 at the USS Constitution Museum is the 2015 Ship Model Show, which will put your childhood ship-in-a-bottle to shame. Check out 50 handcrafted models on display that will only make you want to see the real Constitution even more. She’ll be dry docked around March for three years of restorations and repairs.

Free (suggested donation), Saturday, January 31, through March 21, 2015, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., USS Constitution Museum, Building 22, Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, 617-426-1812,

Chili Cook-Off in Harvard Square

One week after their chocolate festival, and one day before the Super Bowl, Harvard Square will host its seventh annual “Some Like It Hot Chili Cook-Off.” So then, by all means, chill out with free samples and vote for your favorite.

Free, Saturday, January 31, 1-2:30 p.m., Deguglielmo Plaza in front of Crema Cafe, 27 Brattle St.,