Free Things to Do in Boston, September 2016

Enjoy the energy of the Cambridge Carnival, the magic of moonlight movies, the vibes of a jazz festival, and many more free events this month. —Paola Cigui

Niu Raza

Niu Raza photo by Kristyn Ulanday

Harborwalk sounds: Niu Raza + The Wilder Project

To enjoy the first evening of the month, the ICA presents a free concert outside on the Harborwalk by Niu Raza. Opening the show will be Madagascar songwriter Niu Raza, who mixes jazzy vocals with soul, African groove, a touch of Caribbean beats, and pop. Summer at ICA ends with a contemporary dance performance by the award-winning Wilder Project.

Free, September 1, 6-8:30 p.m., Institute of Contemporary Art, 25 Harbor Shore Dr., Boston,

Boston Calling Block Parties

Three weeks away from the end of the season, the Boston Calling Block Parties are making summer last with cold beer and wine, and lots of live music at Dewey Square. Get out there while you still can!

Free, September 1, 8, 15, 5-8 p.m., Dewey Square Park, 185 Kneeland St., Boston, 617-292-0020,

Boston Harbor Hotel

Photo by Boston Harbor Hotel

Moonlight Films at the BHH

The Boston Harbor Hotel offers two more free movie screenings on its harborside terrace this month. The upcoming movies hit some different ends of the film spectrum, with both Star Trek and Mamma Mia! set to screen. But let’s be honest: everyone wants to sing along to ABBA with Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried.

Free, Fridays, September 2 and 9, 6-10 p.m., Boston Harbor Hotel, 70 Rowes Wharf, Boston,

Labor Day at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

On Labor Day, the Gardner Museum will be open to the public for free on a first-come, first-served, basis to celebrate Frank Hatch, a museum trustee for more than 30 years. In celebration, the Gardner will have contemporary papermaking activities in the Studio and Greenhouse classroom, musical performances, and more.

Free, September 5, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., 25 Evans Way, Boston,

The Destruction of Memory

This month, the Harvard Art Museums will present The Destruction of Memory, a film based on the book by Robert Bevan that looks at the current actions of Daesh (ISIS) and reveals the decisions that allowed the movement to remain hidden in the shadows for so many years.

Free, September 9, 2-4 p.m., Harvard Art Museums, Menschel Hall, Lower Level, 32 Quincy St., Cambridge,

Classics on the Common

The Boston Common Frog Pond offers three movies this month: Minions, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Bring your blanket, and no worries, popcorn will be available.

Free, September 9, 16, and 23, at sundown, Boston Common,

Cambridge Carnival

Photo by Erwin Houser

Cambridge Carnival

The 24th Cambridge Carnival, the largest annual event in Cambridge, is ready to splash onto the Cambridge scene bringing its African traditions. Be one of thousands of participants who attend the grand parade, dance to free music, sample some international food, and buy multicultural crafts from all over the world.

Free, September 11, 12-7 p.m., Cambridge,

North End Italian Procession

The vivid Italian neighborhood will celebrate the Sicilian patron saint Santa Rosalia di Palermo with a procession in the early afternoon. The live entertainment is free, but you still have to pay for the cannoli.

Free, September 11, 1-4 p.m., North Square,

Author Talks at the Central Library

The Boston Public Library has plenty of free readings happening in September. Local author Michael Patrick MacDonald opens the series on September 13. He’s known for the memoir All Souls: A Family Story from Southie.

Free, September 13, 6-7 p.m., Central Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston,

The Artist’s Voice: Nicholas Nixon and Abelardo Morell

The ICA’s hosting a conversation between photographers Nicholas Nixon and Abelardo (Abe) Morell, as well as Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the ICA. The discussion will center on art, photography, and life in New England. This first-come, first-served, event is organized to accompany the exhibition First Light: A Decade of Collecting at the ICA, which includes photographic works by both artists, and celebrates the museum’s first decade of collecting.

Free, September 15, 7 p.m., 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston,

Boston Local Food Festival

Good news, food lovers: Later this month, the Rose Kennedy Greenway will transform into the nation’s largest local and sustainable food hub. At the Boston Local Food Festival, you can try food from local farmers, lively chefs, healthy restaurants, food trucks, specialty food producers, and fishers from all over New England while enjoying local music, fun activities, and a seafood throwdown competition.

Free, September 18, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston,

Beantown Jazz Festival

Photo by Dave Green

Beantown Jazz Festival

The 16th annual Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival is set to fill the South End with jazz, funk, R&B, Latin music, a cappella music, and more. The outdoor festival opens the day before with Grammy-winning guitarist and Berklee alumnus John Scofield, with the main festivities starting the next day at noon, with live music, food and crafts, and tons of musical activities.

Free, September 24, 12-6 p.m., Columbus Ave. between Massachusetts Ave. and Burke St.,

Smithsonian Museum Day

The Harvard Museum of Natural History is one of many museums that will participate in Smithsonian Museum Day, which provides free admission to anyone who downloads the coupon from the Smithsonian site. At Harvard, learn about dinosaurs, rare gems and minerals, hundreds of mammals, birds, and Harvard’s world famous “Glass Flowers.”

Free, September 24, 9 a.m.‐5 p.m., Harvard Museum of Natural History, 26 Oxford St., Cambridge,

ICA play date

Photo by Jennifer Waddell

Play Date Enjoying Collecting

The ICA welcomes up to two adults per family for free when accompanied by children ages 12 and under (youth 17 and under are always admitted for free) for a casual family tour, involving games and pop-up talks about 10 years of collecting at the museum. For even more fun, there will be a painting workshop and SR9 Trio performing percussions at 1 p.m.

Free, September 24, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., 25 Harbor Shore Drive, Boston,

MIT Museum

If you haven’t been yet, the MIT Museum is a must-see! The museum is free the last Sunday of the month from September through June. Take a look at some of their current exhibitions involving photography, artificial intelligence, holography, and many other scientific fields.

Free, September 25, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., 265 Massachusetts Ave., Bldg N51, Cambridge,


Art-loving bookworms should head to Harvard Book Store, which will host the bestselling art historian Ross King for a discussion of his book, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. King’s latest book reveals an intimate portrait of Claude Monet, focusing on the personal and historical dramas behind the creation of his famed Water Lilies.

Free, Tuesday, September 13, 7 p.m., Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge,