Free Things to Do in Boston, May 2016

Head to the opening day of the South End Open Market or listen to local bands play at Somerville’s PorchFest.
South End Open Market

Photo Provided

South End Open Market

The South End Open Market returns for its 13th year this month and will run through October. Get your Sunday stroll on as you peruse dozens of local stalls. The market features Boston-area artists, designers, crafters, farmers, and specialty food vendors. At least fifteen food trucks will be there too, so make sure to bring an appetite.  

Sundays, May 1-October 30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 375 Harrison Ave., Boston, newenglandopenmarkets.com.

MayFair at Harvard Square

It finally feels like spring, so why not celebrate by making your way to Cambridge for Harvard Square’s MayFair celebration? The annual tradition features live music, groups, street art, food, and more. A little rain prevented the festival from taking place on May 1 as planned, but you can still find a wide variety of jewelry and vintage finds from local artisans and merchants mid-month.

Sunday, May 15, 12-6 p.m., Harvard Square, Cambridge, harvardsquare.com.

Piecing Art Together

If you think you have what it takes to be a Puzzlemaster, then prove it. Piecing Art Together is an outdoor community puzzle event that lets you put your jigsaw skills to the test. Attendees will piece together artwork coming from local artists, including photographs and paintings. The event is a part of ArtWeek, a bi-annual creative festival born in Boston.

Sunday, May 1, 2-4 p.m., Eureka! Puzzles, 1349 Beacon St., Brookline, artweekboston.org.

SoWa ArtWalk 2016 in Boston

Photo Provided

SoWa Art Walk 2016

You’re cultured, we know, but perhaps it’s been awhile since you’ve taken time to really appreciate art. Lucky for you, SoWa comes through yet again with their 2016 ArtWalk in the South End. Providing artists with over 150,000 square feet of studio space, there’s no shortage of creativity. Hop from studio to gallery throughout the day (way more refined than a pub crawl, we hear).

Sunday, May 1, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, sowaartwalk.com.

Virtual Reality Meets Documentary: A Deeper Look

Before the inevitable robot uprising, it may be a good idea to know how rising tech can be used for good. With virtual reality being the next big thing, we’re starting to see brands and publications such as Google, Facebook, and the New York Times invest in VR as a new way of storytelling. Head to this panel about virtual reality at MIT for a closer look at the potential VR has for documentary and journalism.

Thursday, May 5, 5 p.m., MIT Building 56 Room 114, Access via 21 Ames St., Cambridge, cmsw.mit.edu.

Drumming group Grooversity performs

Grooversity performs. Photo provided.

Brazilian Drum and Dance Parade

Another event from ArtWeek Boston, this one will have you dancing to the beat in no time. Young Audiences of Massachusetts’s drumming ensemble Marcus Santos and Grooversity take the sounds of Brazil to the street during this outdoor performance in the Boston Common. The show starts at the bandstand and travels through the park, and you can feel free to join the impromptu party wherever you see it.

Friday, May 6, 12:30-1:30 p.m., Boston Common, Boston, artweekboston.org.

East Cambridge and Inman Square Cleanup Day

Doing good makes you feel good, and the best news of all is that volunteering is free. East Cambridge’s annual cleanup day is expanding from previous years in an effort to really clean up the neighborhood. After all, it takes just a few hours of your day to help spruce up the place you call home, and afterwards you can revel in the fact that you’ve done your civic duty. Plus, there will be a volunteer party at the end to celebrate a job well done.

Saturday, May 7, 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m., locations vary, Cambridge, eventbrite.com.

Lilac Sunday at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Photo courtesy of Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

Lilac Sunday

Stop and smell the lilacs at Arnold Arboretum’s daylong Lilac Sunday celebration. Tours of the lilacs will be available, as well as family activities and food vendors. Make a day out of it with a grassy picnic. With over 369 lilac plants representing 165 varieties, the Arboretum’s collection is one of North America’s largest.

Sunday, May 8, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, 125 Arborway, Boston, arboretum.harvard.edu.

Artifacts featured in the book.

Photo Provided

A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts

Bostonians are rightly proud of their city’s prominence in American history, but it never hurts to learn more about it. Archaeologist Joseph Bagley is here to remind us to dig a little deeper. Bagley has been the City Archaeologist of Boston since 2011, and he knows a thing or two about our rich history. Join Bagley at his free talk at the BPL about his book A History of Boston in 50 Artifacts. Learn about fascinating finds, from cannonballs and drinking cups to ancient spears.

Wednesday, May 11, 6-8 p.m., Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston, bostonlitdistrict.org.

Somerville PorchFest

Somerville becomes a stage this month, or at least a bunch of mini stages. Musicians from a variety of genres play outside at a series of private residences during Somerville’s sixth annual PorchFest music festival. Take a listen as sweet songs fill the city’s sidewalks, lawns, and, well, porches.

Saturday, May 21, 12-6 p.m., Somerville, somervilleartscouncil.org.

Photo of Fitz and the Tantrums Courtesy of WME Entertainment

Photo of Fitz and the Tantrums Courtesy of WME Entertainment

Radio 92.9 EarthFest 2016

Celebrate the anticipation of summer at Radio 92.9’s annual EarthFest. Because nothing says “all the snow has finally melted!” like a free outdoor concert at the Hatch Shell. The annual concert will feature Fitz and the Tantrums, the Strumbellas, and Joywave, and will place a big emphasis on eco-friendly vendors. 

Saturday, May 21, Hatch Memorial Shell, 47 David G Mugar Way, Boston, myradio929.com.

Lawn on D at night

Photo Provided

Opening Day Celebration at the Lawn on D

You’ve heard the rumors, you’ve seen the photos, you desperately want to swing on one of those awesome glowing hoops. Now’s your chance. The Lawn on D opens Saturday, May 21, with an opening day celebration. The outdoor entertainment space will be open through October 10. One last thought: If you go to Lawn on D and don’t take an Instagram pic, did you even go?

Saturday, May 21, 12-10 p.m., Lawn on D, 420 D St., Boston, lawnond.com.

Memorial Day Open House at the MFA

If you’re staying in town for the long Memorial Day Weekend, then the Museum of Fine Arts has you covered. The MFA is hosting an open house on Monday, May 30, and admission for all ages will be free. It would be a perfect time to check out the museum’s special Megacities Asia exhibit. Don’t forget to listen to a special performance by high-school musicians from Sociedad Latina’s Youth Artist Mastery group, which has created an original concert inspired by Megacities Asia.

Monday, May 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 465 Huntington Ave., Boston, mfa.org.