Free Things to Do in Boston, October 2017

Including the Head of the Charles Regatta, Boston Veg Food Fest, and more.

Boston Veg Food Festival

The Boston Veg Food Fest is free and open to the public this October 21st & 22nd / Photo courtesy of Boston Vegetarian Society

Kids Really Rock Family Festival

Take the kids out for a day of outdoor fun. Two stages will have kids’ music all day long, and various sponsors provided craft activities centered around kindness and community. Paint rocks, make bracelets, learn some soccer tricks, or watch a puppet show with Good News Gus. There will be free healthy snacks, plus food and beverages available for purchase. Families who are able are asked to bring Play-Doh to donate to the educational centers of Horizons for Homeless Children, this year’s festival partner.

October 1, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., The Lawn on D, 420 D St., Boston,

SoWa’s 2nd Annual Fashion Show

SoWa is kicking off Boston Fashion Week with a free runway show on their Harrison Ave catwalk. Designs by SoWa Art + Design District’s designers and retailers will be on display. If you miss the 1 p.m. show, don’t worry—there’s another at 2:30 p.m.

October 1, 1-3 p.m., SoWa Boston, 450 Harrison Ave., Boston,

A Celebration of Voices: Favorite Poem Reading

Celebrating five years of the BU Arts Initiative and twenty years of the Favorite Poem Project, the two organizations are coming together to present a night of poetry. Readers from Boston and BU will share a favorite poem and why it holds significance for them. Sportscaster Michael Holley, award winning author Gish Jen, celebrity chef Barbara Lynch, and designer Stuart Weitzman will be among those reading after an introduction by Robert Pinsky, 39th Poet Laureate of the United States. A dessert reception will follow the evening’s readings.

October 2, 7-9 p.m., Tsai Performance Center, 685 Commonwealth Ave., Boston,

An Evening with Sarah Vowell

Historian and humorist Sarah Vowell will be visiting for a moderated discussion with MIT Graduate Program in Science Writing director Seth Mnookin. The two will discuss humor, history, and how historical research affects modern journalism. Vowell is the author of seven books including Assassination Vacation, Take the Cannoli, and The Partly Cloudy Patriot. She has also contributed to This American Life and was the voice of the teenaged Violet in The Incredibles. Mnookin is a heavily-lauded science journalist, whose most recent book was about the debunked autism/vaccines link.

October 5, 6-8 p.m., Room 26–100 at MIT, 60 Vassar St., Cambridge,

Film Screening of Citizenfour

MIT’s List Projects: Civil Disobedience is a collection of film screenings that aims to educate viewers about the use of political resistance and public demonstration from the early 1900s through today. This month, you can see director Laura Poitras’s thrilling documentary about Edward Snowden, former CIA analyst turned whistleblower. Citizenfour tells Snowden’s story from the reveal of the infamous NSA documents to his current asylum in Russia. There are two screening opportunities; viewers must RSVP in advance.

October 5 & October 12, 6-8 p.m., MIT List Visual Arts Center, 20 Ames St., Cambridge,

Honk Festival

Photo courtesy of Damas de Ferro

HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands

Sometimes called a “brassroots revolution,” the street bands of HONK! are known for their enthusiasm and community engagement. Their music comes from a wide array of genres, with group playing everything from Brazilian Samba to Hip Hop, and their causes range from the political to the social. More than 27 bands will play with no stage and no speakers, performing among the listeners. They come from all over the United States, and some from even farther. Damas de Ferro (Iron Ladies) is an all-women band hailing from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The festival includes a lantern parade in Somerville neighborhoods, band entertainment all day long everyday, and a mass parade from Davis Square to Harvard Square, with more performances at Oktoberfest. Progressive groups join the brass bands, and together they perform for economic justice, world peace, and more.

October 6-8, 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Davis Square, Somerville,

Mark Guglielmo: Cubaneo, Curated by David Guerra

Over the course of three visits to Cuba, artist and producer Mark Guglielmo collected thousands of photographs and dozens of citizen interviews. Now, he presents a collection of handmade mosaics, measuring five to 15 feet long, each of which presents a collective yet diverse story of Cuban culture, politics, and economy. The exhibit opens on October 6, and a discussion panel including the artist will be held on October 19. RSVP via the Eventbrite link below.

October 6 & 19, 6:30 p.m., La Galeria, 85 W Newton St., Boston,

13th Annual Fall Fair at BPL South Boston

Families are invited to celebrate fall at the library with face painting, balloon making, and a visit from Corduroy Bear. Kids can also decorate a pumpkin, and other crafts and activities will be available.

October 7, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., South Boston Branch of Boston Public Library, 646 East Broadway, South Boston,

16th Annual Opening Our Doors Festival

Start the day at the Christian Science Plaza, and from there a complimentary trolley will bring visitors to more than 80 programs throughout the Fenway. Stop by Evans Way Park or Northeastern’s Krentzman Quad for music, art, and more. Highlights include an interactive dry-erase mural, paint & play pianos, and a wide variety of student and professional performances. Visit the festival website for a full schedule of activities.

October 9, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Fenway area, Boston,

National Fossil Day

Take your dinosaur-loving kids to the BPL to learn about how fossils form and see some real ones loaned from the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Kids will also get the opportunity to make imprints of natural objects—their own little fossils to take home.

October 11, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Children’s Library at the Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston,


HUBweek brings together those making an impact in art, science, and technology for a week of education, innovation, and civic collaboration. Every day offers a selection of talks, panel discussions, and workshops to spur your creativity and work towards a better future. While the festival offers several types of tickets, each with more perks for a higher cost, the HUB Pass is free. It offers entry to The HUB October 12 through 15, access to showcases (including Demo Day, where startups compete for the title of HUBweek Impact Leader), creative spaces, mentor opportunities, and Immersion, an experiential live arts experience. Make sure to register for your pass ahead of time, and then dive into the world of innovation.

October 12-15, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., City Hall Plaza, Boston,

Tiffani Faison

Tiffani Faison / Photo by Dan Watkins

Foodbetter Harvard 2017

This two-day summit starts on Thursday with a Lightning Round discussion, where members of the Harvard community will share their thoughts on topics like the chocolate supply chain, the impact of meals with family, and the relationship between academic performance and school meals. The discussion will be followed by the keynote panel, Foodies who Foodbetter, where Boston’s best chefs and restaurateurs will share how they’re using their platforms to change the food system in their community. Among others, Tiffani Faison, of Sweet Cheeks and Tiger Mama, will talk about her efforts in advocacy for the LBGTQ community, and Irene Li, of Mei Mei Street Kitchen, will talk about her restaurant’s profit-sharing approach. While the discussion is free, visitors may enjoy a dinner planned by the panelists that evening for an additional charge. On Friday, visit the Harvard Science Center Plaza for an engaging showcase of Cambridge innovators. Each booth will present a different aspect of food sustainability. “Food is a universal connector that has limitless touchpoints, and Foodbetter strives to spark dialogue, thoughtfulness, action and engagement for individuals and our community,” says Crista Martin, Director of Communications for Harvard Dining. Keep in mind that tickets for Thursday’s summit must be picked up in person at Harvard’s Box Office. Reserving tickets online incurs a $3 charge.

October 12, 3:30 p.m., Sanders Theatre, 45 Quincy St., Cambridge; October 13, 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Harvard Science Center Plaza, Cambridge,

Ovoids and Ovules: Opening Reception

Ceramic sculptor Jennifer Langhammer opens her new exhibit Ovoids and Ovules this month. Often inspired by nature, Langhammer’s newest collection focuses on a singular shape: a 6-inch high egg, or ovoid. Using Paper Clay—a blend of dried clay, water, and paper—Langhammer adds or subtracts to the egg shape to create a new angle on the world’s natural patterns. In a statement, the artist described her inspiration, including fungi and forest details. “I have explored how plants grow and rocks erode as well as the slow growth of cave pearls and the quick colonization of molds,” says Langhammer. “I looked closely at tree bark and tiny mussels clinging to a rock battered by the tide. Each is beautiful and fascinating, both mysterious and functional.


October 13, 6-8 p.m., Brookline Arts Center, 86 Monmouth St., Brookline,

Fort Point Open Studios Karen McFeaters

Artwork by Karen McFeaters / Courtesy of Fort Point Studios

Fort Point Fall 2017 Open Studios

The Fort Point Arts Community fosters a thriving artist community in Boston by providing studio space for those at work and gallery space for finished works. This October, you can visit Fort Point’s numerous galleries and studios in their 38th annual open studios event. Locations include the main FPAC Gallery at 300 Summer Street, the Midway Gallery at Midway Artists Studios, 15 Channel Center, 249 A Street Gallery, and the Atlantic Wharf Gallery at 290 Congress Street. “Open Studios provides a unique opportunity for the public to meet artists and learn about the creative process firsthand,” said Meg Gugarty, Membership & Communications Coordinator at FPAC. Even artists who don’t have live/work space at Fort Point will still be able to display work in Group Space available. Along with the Open Studios, FPAC will be debuting a floating art project in Fort Point Channel on October 8th. Local artist Gianna Stewart’s Iceberg will serve as a reminder of the impact of climate change on our world. A full list of events for Open Studios weekend will be available on FPAC’s website.

October 13, 4 – 7 p.m., October 14 & 15, 12 – 6 p.m., Fort Point Arts Community, 300 Summer St., Boston,

Athenæum’s Open House

Take the opportunity to explore the Athenæum’s members-only library, a historic collection of books and art. The entire building will be open for self-guided tours, and staff members will be located throughout to answer questions and provide additional information. Visitors can see portions of George Washington’s personal library; the King Chapel Collection, the oldest colonial library in Boston; and artwork by John Singer Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, and more. Register in advance to avoid a line at the door.

October 14, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Boston Athenæum, 10½ Beacon St., Boston,

Free Trip to Georges Island with Save the Harbor

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay is a nonprofit organization focused on restoring Boston’s waters for public enjoyment. Join them for a cruise to Georges Island. Explore the historic Fort Warren and keep an eye out for the Lady in Black, fabled to haunt the island. Travelers will meet at Bay State Cruise Company’s dock at the World Trade Center in the Seaport to begin boarding the Provincetown II at 9:30 a.m. Although the island’s visitor’s center will have closed for the season, guests are welcome to bundle up and bring a picnic lunch. Restrooms will be available on the cruise ship.

October 14, 9:30 a.m.-2 p.m., World Trade Center, 200 Seaport Blvd., Boston,


Photo by Alessandra Bisalti / Courtesy of MassArt

Family Day at MassArt

Visitors of all ages are welcome to visit the Massachusetts College of Art and Design for Family Day, where the Bakalar & Paine Galleries will be open for art-making activities guided by MassArt students, faculty, and staff. While admission to these galleries is always free, Family Day includes an immersive experience through artistic activities. “Family Day is not only an opportunity for the public to engage with contemporary art, but it is also a teaching opportunity for MassArt’s art education students so that they may gain hands-on experience,” says Susie Stockwell, Director of Communications at MassArt. These students plan activities for visitors based on the galleries’ current exhibits. This fall, the Bakalar Gallery is exhibiting “Chinese Dreams,” which features work by artists influenced by the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and the Paine Gallery is exhibiting “Selections, with work by MassArt faculty. While everyone can enjoy activities in these exhibits, there will be a separate room with fun activities specifically planned for children ages six and under. Refreshments will be provided by Chartwells throughout the day.

October 14, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Bakalar & Paine Galleries in South Hall, 621 Huntington Ave., Boston,

Boston Beneath Our Feet

Did you miss National Fossil Day? No need to worry, because the BPL is offering a second opportunity for your budding archaeologists to explore the world hidden beneath our feet. Boston’s City Archaeologist, Joe Bagley, and his volunteers are bringing a hands-on experience to the library’s courtyard. Kids can help patch up historic ceramic vessels, and Bagley will display how to make an arrowhead and create sparks from flint and steel.

October 15, 2-4 p.m., Courtyard of Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St., Boston,

Sense the Wind Movie Screening at CBI

Sense the Wind is an inspiring documentary following four blind sailors—three of whom are based in Boston—as they train and compete at national and world championships. Nancy, Inky, Philip, and Matt sail not by sight, but by feel. They sense the breeze, feel the tiller’s tension, and hear the pattern of waves. Filmmaker Christine Knowlton spent six years following their stories, and now presents this powerful documentary that challenges viewers to reconsider what disability means. The documentary won the Humanitarian Award at the Socially Relevant Film Festival of New York. A Q&A session with Knowlton and some of the featured sailors will follow the film screening.

October 18, 6-8 p.m., Community Boating Inc., 21 David Mugar Way, Boston,

Frog Pond Pumpkin Float

Before the frog pond freezes over for winter, there’s still some fall fun to be had. Families and individuals are invited to bring their own carved pumpkin to the Frog Pond, where members of Boston Parks and Recreation will illuminate and float the pumpkins for attendees. Carved pumpkins must be 8 inches or smaller in diameter, and they must already be hollowed in order to float. Aside from the float, come to enjoy music, treats, and some spooky kids activities for an early Halloween celebration.

October 20, 5-8 p.m., Boston Common Frog Pond, Boston,

Jean Appolon Expressions

Photo courtesy of Jean Appolon Expressions

Lakou Ayiti with Jean Appolon Expressions

This event is brought to the public in conjunction with the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center’s exhibit called “Who We Are: Boston Immigration Then and Now.” As Haiti is one of the top three countries Boston residents have emigrated from, the center invited Jean Appolon Expressions, a contemporary Haitian dance company, for story time and a dance workshop. The program will be focused on the idea of “lakou,” a word with many translations. In Haitian Kreyol, “lakou” can refer to the backyard, the land passed down through generations, the gathering place for shared meals, for dancing, singing, worship, passionate debate, or home. “This concept perfectly dovetails with the central themes of ‘Who We Are’: immigration, place, culture, language, and community,” says Dory Klein, Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Map Center. “This program dynamically explores these concepts through both literature and dance, in a creative, physical way that is accessible and meaningful to children and adults alike.” The program will begin with a reading of Edwidge Danticat’s Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation. This illustrated tale follows the story of a young person whose mother was imprisoned as an undocumented immigrant. After the story, Jean Appolon Expressions will perform and then hold a workshop for kids to explore their own movement and identity.

October 21, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., Rey Room, Children’s Library at Boston Public Library, 700 Boylston St.,

The 2017 Head of the Charles Regatta

Since 1965, the Head of the Charles Regatta has attracted hundreds of thousands of rowers to Boston and Cambridge. Each year, spectators can enjoy the experience from the banks. The three mile course runs along the Charles River from the Boston University Boathouse to Christian Herter Park. A popular viewing point is between the Anderson and Weeks bridges, along the race’s halfway point. Exhibitions on both sides of the river provide entertainment for viewers as the rowers pass by.

October 21 & 22, 7:45 a.m.-5 p.m., Charles River, Boston & Cambridge,

Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo

Since 2010, the Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo (MICE) has been bringing local artists and writers to their readers. With a focus on the art of making comics, MICE includes workshops, panel discussions, and featured guest speakers. Throughout the weekend, over 200 exhibitors will be there to share their work. Special guests from around the world include Michael DeForge, Kazu Kibuishi, Liz Prince, Jason Shiga, Mark Siegel, and Isabel Greenberg. Sunday has a focus on kids, with workshops for youngsters with an interest in cartooning.

October 21, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., October 22, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., University Hall at Lesley University, 1815 Massachusetts Ave. (Porter Square),

Boston Veg Food Fest

Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat lover, this festival offers a weekend of free food samples, cooking demonstrations, speaker presentations, and more. Experts on nutrition will explain how food choices impact the environment, and top chefs will share their veggie-friendly recipes. “In offering the Boston Veg Food Fest we want to convey that eating plant-based is fun, easy, and delicious,” says Evelyn Kimber, a member of the Boston Vegetarian Society. Volunteers of this group have pulled together 120 exhibitors for the weekend, including educational exhibits on protecting animals and the environment and a whole room of activities for the kids. Try plant-based recipes from around the globe, or purchase some new veggie items for sale. Ever wondered what a mushroom energy bar tastes like? How about some flaxseed-based yogurt? Vegan whoopie pies, anyone? Try all these and more at the Veg Food Fest. The Fest will also be a Zero Waste event, with a professional composting company and a recycling company ensuring this fun food-filled weekend doesn’t harm our planet.

October 21, 11 a.m.-6 p.m., October 22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Reggie Lewis Athletic Center, 1350 Tremont St., Boston,

Halloween Celebration on Castle Island

Adventure to Fort Independence for some storytelling, magicians, refreshments, and more. Spend the afternoon on the beautiful Castle Island, supposedly the site of Edgar Allan Poe’s inspiration for his chilling short story “The Cask of Amontillado.”

October 21 & 22, 12-4 p.m., Fort Independence, Day Blvd., South Boston,

Boston Book Festival

Celebrate words, promote literature, and enjoy discussions this fall at the Boston Book Festival. With more than 200 exhibitors and guest speakers, there’s an event for every reader. Local presenters include Celeste Ng, Karen Akunowicz, Tom Perrotta, Claire Messud, and Ben Mezrich. There’s so much more—a full schedule of events will be released in early October. In the meantime, read up on your favorite authors, and get ready to see them in Copley this fall.

October 28, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Copley Square, Boston,

dog halloween parade faneuil hall

Courtesy of Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Halloween Pet Parade & Costume Contest

Bring your furry friend to Faneuil Hall for some fall fun this month! Dress up the pooch in their cutest Halloween garb and parade down a red carpet—it’s glamorous, adorable, and a little bit spooky. Pet owners who register ahead of time can enter their pets in a costume contest immediately following the parade. Last year had 150 contestants, and this year the competition will be even tougher. Prizes baskets with gift cards and goodies from Faneuil Hall storeowners will be awarded for the top three Best in Show, Best Owner & Pet Combo, Best Local Representation, and Most Creative. Donations are from MIJA Cantina & Tequila Bar, the Black Dog, and Anthem Kitchen + Bar. Wellness Pet Food will also be giving out free samples while supplies last!

October 28, 12-3 p.m., Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4 South Market St., Boston,

mandarin oriental hotel

Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group

Mandarin Oriental Family Halloween Celebration

Families are invited to the hotel lobby of Mandarin Oriental on Halloween afternoon for homemade pumpkin doughnuts and fresh hot apple cider. Kids ages 12 and under can enter a costume contest to win a ten-person birthday party. While the parents mingle, kids can “trick-or-treat” and get fresh goodies from resident pastry chef Robert Differ.

October 31, 3-5 p.m., Mandarin Oriental, 776 Boylston St., Boston,