Free Things to Do in Boston, May 2015

Check out free events happening around Boston this month, including the opening of Lawn on D, MayFair at Harvard Square, and Lilac Day at the Arnold Arboretum.

free events in boston may 2015

Lawn on D’s Swing Time returns. | Photo provided by Marlo Marketing

Jazz Week ’15

If you’re in the mood for some croons and jazzy tunes, catch the events Jazz Week lined up on its final days. You can celebrate music in Boston’s neighborhoods at “Boston Jazz Hero Award” at Wally’s Café, spend an afternoon watching performances by Mattapan musicians and artists “Mattapan Speaks Jazz.”

Free, Friday, May 1-Sunday, May 3, times and locations vary,

Harvard ARTS FIRST Festival

For anything arts related, check out what’s taking place in and around Harvard Yard for Harvard’s ARTS FIRST Festival. It’s boasting events like the “Jazz on the Plaza” concert featuring Harvard Jazz Bands, a humorous version of Swan Lake, and a screening of Whiplash. There will also be a performance fair of over 200 presentations at 12 venues around Harvard Yard. This festival aims to satisfy every art enthusiast’s likings of all ages.

Free, Friday, May 1-Sunday, May 3, times vary, Harvard University, Cambridge,

Opening Day at SoWa Open Market

If the sun is out, so are the vendors at SoWa. Featuring 130 indie designers and artists, 17 food trucks, and 65 specialty food and farm vendors, this is expected to be a huge opening day for SoWa’s Open Market. Running along three blocks on Harrison Avenue and Thayer Street in the South End, SoWa is the place to be for handmade designs, locally grown produce, vintage finds, and gourmet specialty foods.

Free, every Sunday starting May 3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., SoWa Open Market, 460 Harrison Ave., Boston,

32nd Annual MayFair at Harvard Square

The Harvard Square Business Association presents the 32nd Annual Mayfair, and this year it’s partnering with the Sinclair. Bowery Boston’s staff, the local music experts who behind the music venue, is deciding which local brands will grace the Mass Ave. and Church St. stages. Some bands on the lineup are The Sheila Divine, Freezepop, Funeral Advantage and Air Traffic Controller. The fair also features two other stages for live entertainment, four beer gardens, a Victorian children’s play, and hundreds of food, art, jewelry and clothes vendors.

Free, Sunday, May 3, rain date May 17, 12-6 p.m., Harvard Square, Cambridge,

FIT on the Garden

Just in time to help you get into that healthy summer mindset, The Shops at Prudential Center is launching FIT on The Garden, a weekly exercise series led by Boston fitness instructors from Lululemon, FlyBarre and Boston Sports Club. Every Wednesday at 5:30 people can join other fit junkies for a free hour-long class at South Garden. After class they will offer an array of snacks, beverages and fitness displays. Make sure to register far enough in advance because the coordinators are expecting a waiting list each week.

Free, every Wednesday starting May 6-June 24, 5:30-6:30 p.m., South Garden @ The Shops at Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston,

Free Wednesdays at the MFA

Stroll through the MFA on its free Wednesday nights to catch certain exhibitions while they’re still on view, or even while they’re fresh. Available through May 10 is “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles Selections from the Jean S. and Frederic A. Sharf Collection,” which captures the idea and evolvement of mid-century transportation. “Community Arts Initiative Elemental” demonstrates simplistic creativity, and how art can exemplify community, education, experience and harmony all at once. Other exhibitions will be held in the Linde Family Wing featuring fashion photography, Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai’s extensive collection, and a collaboration of contemporary arts.

Free, Wednesdays nights after 4 p.m., exhibits start on various dates, Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston,

Flight Night at Sam Adams

Indulge with some friends without breaking the bank at Sam Adams’ Flight Night, where visitors can choose a Sam Adams brew to create their own beer flight. RSVPs are not required, just show up! Must be 21+ to attend.

Free, Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m., Samuel Adams Brewery, 30 Germania St., Jamaica Plain,

Beer School @ Assembly Row

So you’re a loyal beer drinker, but not a connoisseur. Somerville’s Brewing Company and Craft Beer Cellar Beerschool is here with their free beer school program on Wednesday nights. Each course is an hour long, and you’re welcome to drop in to as many courses as you’d like as every week differs. Taught by beer experts, topics range from sensory exploration to cellaring and aging beers. Each week, the night starts off with free food from American Fresh Brewhouse at 7:30 p.m. and ends with a raffle item. Must be 21+ to attend.

Free, every Wednesday starting May 6-June 3, 7-9:30 p.m., American Fresh Brewhouse Assembly Row, 301 Canal St., Somerville,

Free Thursdays at the ICA

Check out the ICA on Thursday nights for free general admission to catch some of its newest exhibitions, such as “Meleko Mokgosi: Democratic Intuition” featuring Mokgosi’s multi-panel paintings. For the first time, the ICA is highlighting Boston’s resurgence of art performances and public art projects by dedicating the James and Audrey Foster prize to collaborative models, art-making, and performances.

Free, Thursday nights after 5 p.m., exhibits start on various dates, Institute of Contemporary Art, 100 Northern Ave.,

Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum

The Arnold Arboretum feels deeply about the lilac, so much so that it’s the only flowering plant with an entire day dedicated to it. Its Lilac Collection, one of the premier collections in North America, is found mainly on the edge of Bussey Hill Road right by the Arboretum. While Lilac Sunday brings you tours of lilac and other plant collections, 19 food truck vendors including the Bacon Truck and Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, as well as art activities for kids will also be available.

Free, Saturday, May 10, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., The Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University, 125 Arborway, Boston,

Ethnic Heritage Festival

For a day of diversity and liveliness, visit Newton’s Ethnic Heritage Festival, boasting an array of ethnic food trucks, cultural performances, and artisan booths. Whether you’re in for Irish step dancing or Chinese traditional dancing, the roster of cultural performances also includes Iranian, Indian, Italian, Klezmer, and Russian music and dance.

Free, Sunday, May 10, 1-5 p.m., Newton City Hall Tent, 1000 Commonwealth Ave., Newton,

free events in boston may 2015

Photo provided by Marlo Marketing

Lawn on D Season Opener

Last year Lawn on D opened up and received a warm Boston welcome. Kick off Lawn on D’s new season during opening night, bringing back the popular Swing Time, and the reveal of ArtLAB’s new WonderLAND exhibit. Berklee artists will provide live swing music to celebrate Swing Time’s return—the colorful swings are returning with new, interactive features as well. To continue celebrating the beginning of Lawn on D’s season through the weekend, visitors can also enjoy food from local food trucks, trapeze swinging and circus lessons, acrobatic performances by the American Repertory Theater’s OBERON and the Boston Circus Guild, musical performances, chalk art, and lawn games like ping-pong and Frisbee.

Free, Friday, May 15, 5-10 p.m., Saturday, May 16, 12-10 p.m., Sunday, May 17, 12-8 p.m., Lawn on D, 420 D St., Boston,


No kid has not wanted to get up close and personal with huge trucks and cars of all kinds—from cranes and police cars to emergency response vehicles and concrete mixers. Now’s the chance—kid or adult—to climb into and have fun with more than 50 vehicles at Touch-a-Truck in Woburn. The event will also feature local food vendors, giveaways for children, and activities for all ages including a helicopter landing and taking off.

Free, Sunday, May 17, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., West Cummings Park, 200 W Cummings Park, Woburn,

Kite & Bike Festival

If you’re feeling active, head to the Kite and Bike Festival at Franklin Park, where you can fly a kite, ride a bike, enjoy some food truck grub or make some crafts. If you don’t own a kite or bike, you can buy a kite at the park and rent a bike for free. Barbecues are welcome.

Free, Saturday, May 16, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Franklin Park Playstead, Playstead & Pierpoint Roads, Dorchester,

Memorial Day @ the MFA

Join the MFA on Memorial Day to celebrate both our country and Latin American culture in its vibrant “Season of Color in the Americas” festivities. There will be special exhibitions and free activities for all in the Shapiro Family Courtyard. Look forward to a day full of dance workshops, film screenings, special tours and music. A U.S. Coast Guard Band will also perform patriotic songs in honor of Memorial Day.

Free, Monday, 10 a.m.-4.45 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston,