Free Things to Do in Boston, May 2017

Enjoy Lilac Sunday at the Arboretum, fly a kite, and take in the cute overload that is the Duckling Day Parade.

Photo provided by Arnold Arboretum

Photo provided by Arnold Arboretum

ArtWeek Boston

ArtWeek, the brainchild of the Highland Street Foundation and the Boch Center, continues into this month with a slew of artistic adventures all over the city, including an al fresco Japanese ink and watercolor workshop at the Arnold Arboretum, a midweek healthy living dance party for kids in Copley Square, and a production by Girl Talk Theatre, a group that uses theater to empower poor, homeless, and marginalized women.

Through May 7, various locations, full schedule at

Photo provided by Pao Arts Center

Photo provided by Pao Arts Center

Grand Opening of the Pao Arts Center

Chinatown’s first community-based arts center is opening in a big way this month—after the ribbon-cutting ceremony, guests are invited to partake in art-making activities, watch Chinese dance, opera, and beatboxing performances, and explore the Pao’s first exhibits, Mei Ching’s Fantasies of Spring and Wen-Ti Tsen’s INSIDE/OUTSIDE: Portrait of Vivian Lee. And don’t miss the workshop, performance, and lecture by Kevin So, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter and native Bostonian known as “the Asian Stevie Wonder.”

Tuesday, May 2 3-6 p.m., Pao Arts Center, 66 Hudson St., Boston,

Stephan Pastis of “Pearls Before Swine” at the Brookline Booksmith

The mastermind behind everyone’s favorite irreverent anthropomorphic animals will cast some pearls of comic-strip wisdom at the Brookline Booksmith this month. Pastis promises to share some of his most popular comics over the past few years and discuss his writing process, but, according to his Facebook page, he will only consent to sign copies of his latest treasury Pearls Hogs the Road “if someone brings me beer.”

Wednesday, May 3, 7-8 p.m., 279 Harvard St., Brookline,

SoWa Art Walk

Celebrate the end of jacket weather at last with an al fresco stroll through the SoWa art district. With over 300 studios to explore, you’re sure to find a new painting, photograph, or sculpture to revitalize your living space.

Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., see website for participating studios’ addresses,

Opening Weekend at the Greenway Open Market

Springtime is the best time for a stroll along the Greenway—why not also enjoy browsing kitschy trinkets and sampling food truck fare while you’re at it?

Saturday-Sunday, May 6-7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Wharf District Parks, Boston, 

Harvard Square MayFair

Whether you’re a fan of local musicians, dance performances, international cuisine, handmade crafts, or beer gardens, Harvard Square’s annual MayFair celebration has a little something for everyone. And with over 150,000 attendees expected, the atmosphere will be lively, to say the least.

Sunday, May 7, 12-6 p.m., Harvard Square, 18 Brattle St., Cambridge,

Courtesy of Somerville Arts Council

Photo provided by Somerville Arts Council


Got a hankering for some live “American space rock” or “clawhammer banjo?” On May 13, local bands of every musical genre ever will be serenading Somervillians from more than a hundred different neighborhood porches.

Saturday, May 13 12-6 p.m., see website for locations, 

Springtime Spectacular at The Lawn On D

The Lawn on D is pulling out all the stops for this year’s grand opening celebration. Over the course of the day, you can marvel at stunts by some Cirque du Soleil alums, partake in some “colonial games” with the Boston Tea Party Museum, and take in the musical stylings of a local steel drum band. Plus, while the rest of the crowd is distracted by the entertainment, you might finally get your chance to get your photo on those inexplicably popular light-up swings.

Saturday, May 13, 12-11 p.m., 420 D St., Boston,

Courtesy of Arnold Abroretum

Photo provided by Arnold Arboretum 

Lilac Sunday

This Mother’s Day, skip breakfast in bed and treat mom to a picnic lunch and scenic stroll at the Arnold Arboretum instead. This year’s Lilac Sunday lineup includes guided tours, family activities, and food trucks—plus, if you make a $50 donation to become Friends of the Arboretum, you’ll get to take home a lilac seedling of your own.

Sunday, May 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., 125 Arborway, Boston,

The Annual Duckling Day Parade

Make way—the Ducking Day Parade returns again this Mother’s Day. Watch as 1,000 of Boston’s cutest don their finest feathers and waddle their way through the Common and Public Garden to the tunes of the Harvard Marching Band.

Free to watch, Sunday, May 14, 12 p.m., parade starts in the Boston Common and ends at the Make Way for Ducklings sculptures,

Revere Beach Kite Festival

Here’s a reason to get up early on a Sunday: The first 300 kids who make it out to the Revere Beach Kite Festival will receive free kites to decorate and fly at this annual oceanside festival.

Saturday, May 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Revere Beach, Revere, 

Memorial Day Open House at the MFA

Celebrate Memorial Day with the MFA’s unforgettable lineup of free activities for their free admission day. You can get crafty with some hands-on art activities, take in a concert by local immigrant and refugee musicians, embark on guided gallery tours, and explore the three current special exhibitions: “Matisse in the Studio,” “Memory Unearthed: The Lodz Ghetto Photographs of Henryk Ross,” and “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine.”

Monday, May 29, 10 a.m.–5 p.m., 465 Huntington Ave., Boston,