Free Things to Do in Boston, April 2016

Lots of free art and Boston's favorite spring event—the 120th Marathon—all await this month.

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Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup

Earth Day is this month, so show your appreciation for Mother Nature at the Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup. There really is no prettier place to help out the community, as the 3,000+ volunteers each year can attest. Help pick up litter, remove invasive species, and assist park maintenance. You’ll feel that much better when you return to run, bike, or any other array of ways you can enjoy the Charles.

April 30, 9 a.m.-12 p.m., multiple locations,

8th Annual Bookish Ball and Shakespeare’s Birthday Celebration

Fans of the Bard, this one’s for you. Harvard Square alongside Cambridge Historical Tours is throwing William Shakespeare a day-long birthday celebration in conjunction with their Bookish Ball. It’s family-friendly, and will feature everything from book store visits, birthday cake, a Sonnet-A-Thon, and scenes from a Midsummer Night’s Dream performed by actors from Cambridge Historical Tours and the Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare cast (don’t worry, they’ll be sober this time around).

April 18, 12-4:30 p.m., Harvard Square, Cambridge,

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Artweek Boston

This award-winning bi-annual creative festival launched in 2013 and has grown rapidly since. Featuring more than 100 exhibits, Artweek differs from other art festivals in that many of the experiences offered are participatory or interactive. Exhibits range from the Art of Food, with partner restaurants featuring a special ArtWeek menu item that garnered inspiration from a piece of art or favorite album, artist, or arts group, to Studios Without Walls/Gateways, which features temporary environmental sculptures in a natural setting.

April 29-May 8, various locations,

Ben and Jerry’s Free Cone Day

Free ice cream can never go unmentioned. This year, Ben and Jerry’s is upholding their annual tradition with Free Cone Day. With weather warming up (we hope), there’s no better excuse to take a stroll and enjoy a free cone.

April 12, 12-8 p.m., various locations,

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Boston College Arts Festival

Get inspired by some student artwork at the 18th annual Boston College Arts Festival. More than 1,000 student and faculty artists will present art of all forms, including dance, film, music, poetry, theater, comedy, sculpture, painting, and more. Over 16,000 visitors come out every year.

April 28-30, Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Ave., Chestnut Hill,

Boston FIRST Regional Robotics Competition

Want a chance to see some robots in real life, as opposed to just on the big screen? Head to the annual Boston FIRST Regional Robotics Competition. It’s the largest one in the city, and the competition features games and competitions between robots built by teams of middle and high school students in New England. It’s bound to be impressive.

April 1-3, Agganis Arena, 925 Commonwealth Ave., Boston,

John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo

This huge Sports and Fitness expo certainly occurs at a convenient time– during the Boston Marathon weekend. Called the “best runner’s expo in the country,” it draws 100,000 enthusiasts. In addition to the popular Running Seminar Series, there will be exhibits by the industry’s top companies—almost 200 of them. Clearly, if you need some new gear, you’ve got quite the array of choices. Marathon participants can also pick up their bib numbers here, for added convenience.

Boston Marathon

It’s a Boston favorite and a can’t-miss for anyone interested in elite long-distance running. The 26.2 stretch draws around a million spectators each year, so it’s up to you to claim your preferred viewing spot in time. Favorite spots include Heartbreak Hill, the final hill of the course and perhaps the most trying stretch, Cleveland Circle, Beacon Street, Kenmore Square, and of course, the finish line. Engage in the festivities of the day and cheer on those whose who are, more likely than not, a lot more athletic than you.

April 18, First wave at 8:50 a.m., various locations, Boston,

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Cambridge Science Festival

This 10-day festival is an an annual event celebrating science, technology, engineering, art, and math in Cambridge, New England, and beyond. Through multicultural events, collaborators MIT, Harvard, the City of Cambridge, and the Museum of Science will make science accessible through a series of workshops, tours, demos, and food. Trivia, sidewalk astronomy, and a science carnival and zoo are just a few options.

April 15-24, multiple locations and times,

Earth Day on the Greenway

Get down to the Greenway for a family-friendly Earth Day celebration. Music, kids art tables and yoga, face-painting, speakers, and a butterfly garden are just a few of the options to partake in.

April 23, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.,

Harvard’s Art First Festival

Harvard University is also providing their fair share of art the last weekend of April, hosting their ARTS FIRST festival. Most events are free, and with more than 100 live performing, literary, and visual arts, there is plenty to choose from.

April 28-May 1, Harvard University, 74 Mt. Auburn St., Cambridge,

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Japan Festival Boston

This family friendly event is set to celebrate the over 100-year relationship between Japan and the city of Boston in a celebration to preserve cultural roots. Festivities include traditional folkloric dance performances, contemporary music from Japanese acts, cosplay, athletes, arts and crafts booths, a raffle, and food vendors with authentic cuisine. Plus, there will be traditional Japanese portable shrines on site.

April 24, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Boston Common, Boston,

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Jazz Week

“Free” and “music” is a pairing that’s always worth checking out. April 22-May 1 is the 10th annual Jazz Week, and with it comes a series of free shows. Student ensembles will start it off with Free Friday Kickoff Concerts in public spaces around town, and there are tons of other performances to enjoy as well. Head to to the official Jazz Week Calendar for the full list.

April 22-May 1, various locations,

Patriot’s Day Re-enactments

For history buffs, Patriot’s Day isn’t just a day off, it’s also a time to appreciate the beginning days of the American Revolution. Thanks to local militia and Minute Men, you can watch a series of reenactments and learn something while you’re at it. There’s a parade and poll capping in Bedford, a Paul Revere capture ceremony, a Parker’s revenge battle reenactment, and more. Check here for a full list.

Free, April 9, 16, 17, 18, 22, 24, various locations,



Run of the Charles

Enjoying the Charles River is a highlight of the warmer months, so as spring begins, head down to the kickoff of paddling season with the 34th Run of the Charles: Boston’s Premier Paddling Race. The event boasts the largest flat-bottomed boat race in New England, and draws an average of 1,500 racers and thousands more spectators each year. For the best view of the races, stake out a spot on a bridge spanning the river—Eliot Bridge near Buckingham, Brown, and Nichols Upper Campus in Cambridge, as well as the BU bridge, are good bets.

Free to watch, April 24, various locations,