Free Things to Do in Boston, June 2016

Fine art sculpture racing, dragon boats, fitness, pride, and more are taking over Boston this month.

The McKim Courtyard at the BPL. Concerts in the Courtyard start June 1. More info below. / Photo by Olga Khvan

Salem Arts Festival

Engage with and appreciate local artists in this exciting interactive festival. Whether you prefer to wander through galleries or watch live music and poetry performances, there’s something for all art-lovers at this gathering in Salem.

Free, June 3-5, 6-9 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Salem Main St., 978-744-0004,

Cambridge Arts River Festival

Ever heard of sculpture racing? Fine art takes on kinetic and athletically competitive properties in this recently revived Cambridge tradition. Truly one of a kind, the festival also features other wandering performances, theater, music, storytelling, and more.

Free, June 4, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., East Cambridge waterfront along Cambridge Parkway between Edwin H. Land Boulevard and the Lechmere Canal, Cambridge, 617-349-4380,

Cambridge’s Summer in the City

If the River Arts Festival leaves you craving more art, never fear! Various artistic groups and performers will come to parks across Cambridge throughout the summer. Enjoy everything from storytelling and multicultural performances to puppetry.

Free, June-August, various times and locations, Cambridge, 617-349-4380,

Brookline PorchFest

Don’t be surprised when you hear live music coming from a neighborhood porch, because this year, for the first time, PorchFest is coming to Brookline! Sing along and dance, all while appreciating local musicians.

Free, June 4, 12-6 p.m., various locations, Brookline,

Coolidge Corner Arts Festival

The must-visit last stop of PorchFest, this festival will have not only live music, but also the work of more than 75 local artists. Bring your own lunch or try a tasty dish from a food truck.

Free, June 4, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Devotion School, 345 Harvard St., Brookline,

Hubbub: Boston Book Festival for Children & Families

This offshoot of the Boston Book Festival has it all. Try on a giant puppet, create your own cartoon character, learn circus skills like juggling, and so much more, all while exploring the art of storytelling.

Free, June 4, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Copley Square, Boston, 857-259-6999,

MassWildlife’s 150th Anniversary Open House

Celebrate MassWildlife’s 150th anniversary with an inside look at what the agency does. Study wild animals alongside researchers, refresh your memory on hunting safety, learn archery, or simply enjoy the outdoors with a guided walk.

Free, June 4, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 1 Rabbit Hill Road, Westborough, 508-389-6300,

Free Fishing Weekend

Fish in any public freshwater pond, lake, reservoir, river, or stream license-free for one weekend only.

Free, Saturday, June 4, through Sunday, June 5,

Brilliant Traces

Brown Box Theatre presents a fresh look at Cindy Lou Johnson’s acclaimed play about a hermit living in an isolated Alaskan cabin and his surprise visitor, a runaway bride.

Free, June 4-5 and 11-12, 8 p.m., Atlantic Wharf, 290 Congress St., Boston, 443-880-4328,

Photo provided by New England Aquarium

World Oceans Day at the Aquarium

Ever wondered what it feels like to be a whale? World Oceans Day can answer that and so much more. Learn how to eat like a whale, try on a blubber glove, or talk about the importance of protecting rare habitats like Sea Mounts at this event designed to foster appreciation for community conservation. Note that aquarium admission is not included among the free events.

Free, June 5, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Central Wharf, Boston, 617-973-5200,

Beacon Hill Art Walk

Explore the nooks of private homes and gardens in Beacon Hill, decorated with the work of local artists and live performing musicians for this special event, which presents uniquely beautiful spaces that you won’t want to miss.

Free, June 5, 12-6 p.m., starting at either 135 ½ Charles St. or the corner of Cambridge and West Cedar Streets, Boston,

WIFFLE Ball Challenge

Photo by Dan Busler Provided

Boston Wiffle Ball Challenge

Get active for a worthy cause! The Boston Wiffle Ball Challenge welcomes players of all ages to engage in the friendly competition. Whether you come to watch or play, you can look forward to special guests comedian Lenny Clarke, former Red Sox pitcher Lenny Dinardo, and more. All proceeds for the event go to the Travis Roy Foundation for individuals with spinal cord injuries and the Franciscan Children’s Hospital.

Free, Saturday June 11, 8 a.m.-3 p.m., New Balance Field, Boston University, corner of Babcock St. and Ashford St., Allston, 781-421-3025 x208,

Strawberry Festival

Escape to Topsfield to celebrate the beginning of summer with free strawberry shortcake. Get acquainted with small-town life while you enjoy the warm weather and celebrate all things strawberry.

Free, June 11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Topsfield Town Common,

Out of the Park

Come out to support your favorite team and enjoy free food. Watch the Red Sox on the big screen in the Common with all of the excitement of Fenway Park and none of the cost. Wally and company will be there to help celebrate.

Free, June 11, 1:10 p.m., Boston Common, Corner of Beacon and Charles Streets, Boston,

Boston Pride Parade & Festival

Celebrate the LGBTQ community’s love and resilience at Boston Pride. A decades old event, this year’s theme is “Solidarity Through Pride” to recognize the intersectionality of the community. The parade starts in Copley Square and ends at a festival on City Hall Plaza with live music performances. Want more pride? Check out some of their other events this month here.

Free, June 11, 11-7 p.m., City Hall Plaza, Boston, 617-262-9405,

Fresh Pond Day

Celebrate Cambridge’s beautiful reservation and freshwater reservoir. Listen to nature stories, decorate a mask for the animal parade, go on a wildflower walk, or watch a live wildlife demonstration.

Free, June 11, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., Water Purification Facility at Fresh Pond Reservation, 250 Fresh Pond Parkway, Cambridge, 617-349-6489,

Dance for World Community Festival Week

This festival honors dance’s universal power to tell individual stories and contribute to advocacy for larger issues. At the festival, you can take dance classes, watch talented performers, and appreciate the work of local nonprofits. Come to see everything from traditional African dance to ballet and Baroque.

Free, June 11, 12-8 p.m., 1151 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-7467,

Chelsea Art Walk

Artists come to local community spaces in Chelsea. Featuring everything from stained glass to sculpture, and theater to historical exhibits, you won’t want to miss this showcase of Chelsea’s vibrant arts scene.

Free, June 11-12, 12-6 p.m., various locations, Chelsea, 617-875-3188,

Greenway Lunchtime Tour

Get active during your lunch break and learn about one of Boston’s most beautiful parks on a guided walk.

Free, June 12, 12 p.m., meeting at Rowes Wharf Plaza, Boston,

Family Music Festival

Relax and learn with your kids at this local park turned music festival. Enjoy continuous live concerts, face-painting, and even a musical instrument “petting zoo.”

Free, June 12, 12-3 p.m., Lowell School Park, intersection of Mt. Auburn and Lowell Streets, Cambridge, 617-492-8105,

Bunker Hill Day Parade

Catch members of the Charlestown militia in colonial garb, playing the drums and the fife and carrying muskets at this old Boston favorite commemorating the first major battle of the American Revolution.

Free, June 12 starting at 12:30 p.m., Bunkerhill St., Charlestown,


Photo by Olga Khvan

Boston Dragon Boat Festival

This festival centers on a race of beautifully decorated dragon boats, but offers so much more than that, too. Try traditional Chinese cuisine while listening to music or watching dance performances and arts and crafts demonstrations.

Free, races on Saturday and Sunday, June 14 and 15, festival on Sunday, 12-5 p.m., Charles River along Memorial Drive near Weeks Bridge, Cambridge,

Make Music Harvard Square/Fete de La Musique

A Worldwide Celebration of Music, originating in Paris, comes to Boston with their ninth annual street fair and music festival hybrid. Wander around Harvard Square, and yes, dancing is encouraged.

Free, June 18, 2-10:30 p.m., Harvard Square, Cambridge, 617-491-3434,

Arts Fest Beverly

No more quiet studio visits—this festival takes art outdoors. In addition to standard fare exhibits, you’ll also get to listen to live music and watch artists create on the spot.

Free, June 18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Cabot St. from Judson to Bow, Beverly, 978-922-8558,

The Fox Festival

Moving sculptures, giant puppets, and children dressed as foxes will soon be taking over Arlington’s streets. Arts, protection of urban wildlife, and community spirit rally together in this parade. Want to join in the fun? Either create your own puppet, or visit a free workshop in the Fox Library’s community room on June 8 or 15 from 4-7 p.m.

Free, Saturday, June 18, starting at noon, Capitol Square, Arlington,

Summer Solstice Celebration

Circus performers? Egyptian and Aztec craft stations? Free evening admission to several Harvard museums? This event has all of that and more, including a live performance by community chorus group the Revels Singers directed by George Emlem. You don’t want to miss it!

Free, June 20, 5-9 p.m., Harvard Museums of Science and Culture, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge, 617-496-1638,

“Summer in the City” at the Boston Harbor Hotel

Your weeknights are about to get way more exciting. Enjoy live music Tuesday through Thursday nights every week this summer, and welcome each weekend with a classic film on Friday.

Free, Tuesdays-Thursdays, 6-10 p.m., and Friday at dusk, June 9-September 9, Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston, 617-856-7744, full lineup.

Harborwalk Sounds at the ICA

Starting at the end of June, the ICA will bring together up-and-coming Berklee musicians for their annual free waterfront performance series. Don’t forget, the museum itself is also free on Thursday nights, so go inside and see the current exhibits as well.

Free, Thursdays, 6-8:30 p.m., June 30-September 1, Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston, 617-478-3100, full lineup.

Berklee Lunch Sessions at the Prudential Center

Berklee students really aren’t resting on their laurels this summer. They will also liven up your lunch hours with weekly Tuesday performances at the Pru. Look forward to everything from pop to Americana.

Free, Tuesdays, noon-1:30 p.m., June 7-July 26, South Garden at the Prudential Center, 800 Boylston St., Boston, 617-236-3100,

Boston Calling Block Parties

Missing Boston Calling already? Feed your nostalgia every Thursday night on the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway at their weekly summer block parties. Each party stars a live performer, including favorites like Nemes and Cask Mouse, plus a cash bar for folks over 21.

Free, Thursdays, 5-8 p.m., May 12-September 15, Dewey Square Parks, 185 Kneeland St., Boston, 617-292-0020, full lineup.

Concerts in the Courtyard

Relax in the beautiful BPL courtyard and enjoy calming music every Wednesday evening and Friday afternoon this summer.

Free, Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 12:30 p.m., June 1-August 31, Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., 617-536-5400,

Yoga in the Common

Say “namaste” to summer as you combine your relaxation and workout time with weekly yoga sessions every Thursday in the Common.

Free, Thursdays at 6 p.m., June 2-August 26, Frog Pond at Boston Common, Boston, 617-635-2120,

Parkland Games Along the Charles

Enjoy the Charles River in a new way! Join a game of pickup basketball, learn how to play bocce, and end the evening with a relaxing yoga class. This program is designed for people of all ages, so bring the whole family.

Free, Sundays in the late afternoon, June-September, Charles River by the Weeks Footbridge, Cambridge, 617-608-1410,

Boston Parks Fitness

Get moving in one of Boston’s lovely parks. These free classes take place throughout the day all week for the whole summer. Highlights include Zumba, bootcamp, salsa dancing, and special classes for kids and families.

Free, June 6-September 2, various times and locations, full schedule.

Free Friday Flicks at the Hatch Shell

Watch family-friendly films at a beautiful performance space on the Charles River. This summer-long series opens on June 24 with a screening of fan favorite, Minions.

Free, Fridays starting at sunset, June 24-August 26, Hatch Shell, 47 David G. Mugar Way, Boston, full lineup.

Free Fun Fridays

This annual program returns bigger than ever before with free admission to 80 different sites on Fridays throughout the summer. Whether you’ve been hoping to visit Plimoth Plantation or the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, this summer is the time to do it. And don’t forget: the MFA always offers free admission after 4 p.m. on Wednesdays and the ICA offers free admission from 5-9 p.m. on Thursdays.

Free, Fridays, June 24-August 26, various locations, full lineup.