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Celebrate Summer in Boston At These Exciting (and Free) Waterfront Wellness Events

Boston’s extensive waterfront is a quiet boost to city life all year round, as the sight of the Charles River ribboning through our neighborhoods or the Atlantic lapping at our shores rarely fails to bring a sense of calm. But come summer, as our shudders become sun salutations and our under-blanket days become picnic-blanket days, the water beckons us even more to its natural beauty. We respond to that invitation and turn to the waterfront as a site for serenity, renewal, and connection. 

In Boston, much of that waterfront is open to the public. However, as The Coalition for a Resilient and Inclusive Waterfront – a convener of 60 local nonprofits, advocacy organizations, and cultural institutions – points out, access to recreation spaces, parks, activities, and events along the city’s waterfronts can feel limited without an intentional effort to create an environment where people from all communities can feel welcome. 

In a 2021 poll commissioned by the Coalition, a majority of the 600 residents polled stated it was “very important” that the waterfront provide open, accessible spaces for exercise and enjoyment. The Coalition and its partners are finding ways to respond to that call-to-action, and they’re working tirelessly to make sure all Bostonians feel free and comfortable to respond to the waterfront’s yearly call to sit, walk, run, sail, eat, stretch, and find peace. 

Waterfront Wellness Week is the Coalition’s annual event series that reinforces inclusive access to the waterfront for all communities, from Hyde Park to the Seaport to East Boston, and everywhere in between. Running from Saturday, June 17 through Saturday, June 24, Coalition organizations from throughout Greater Boston will be hosting a wide range of events where everyone can experience the waterfront’s natural beauty and feel its benefits in their mind, body, and soul. 

The full lineup of events can be found on the Coalition’s website here, but if you’re wondering where to start, we’ve pulled out a few of the not-to-miss events to explore below. 

Juneteenth Joy 

On the Neponset River on Saturday, June 17, from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., all Bostonians are invited to take part in a Juneteenth Joy Celebration in Hyde Park at the Francis D. Martini Memorial Shell Park and Moynihan Recreation Area. The day, hosted by The Forum for Racial Equity of Hyde Park, will honor the contributions of Black Bostonians and feature dance performances and activities, art demonstrations, a local Black vendor fair, educational exhibits, activities for children, games, music, prizes, and local food. 

The celebration kicks off early in the day with Juneteenth Waterfront Wellness Week: Yoga and Zumba, a free series of workout classes from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., co-sponsored by the Coalition, The Forum For Racial Equity of Hyde Park, and the West Fairmount Hill Community Group. Exhibit creator Marcia Kimm-Jackson and Meet Boston’s Hilina Ajakaiye will also be on hand to unveil the newly created Living History Makers of Color of Hyde Park exhibit. Juneteenth is a federal and state recognized holiday that commemorates the emancipation of the last enslaved Black Americans in the United States. 

Family Festivals 

The week’s events will also feature two programs that will provide families with the opportunity to enjoy a fun and relaxing time on the waterfront.

Join the Trustees as they launch their 3rd Annual Sabores De Nuestra Cultura: Family Festival. On June 17 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the festival will feature a Youth & Wellness theme in collaboration with the EASTIE Coalition, The East Boston Social Centers, and the Community Healing Center with support from MOIA, to promote physical, mental, and emotional well-being for people of all ages. There will be free treats, music, and games the whole family can enjoy, as well as a ticket giveaway to sail on the harbor through the Piers Park Sailing Center.

If you’re looking for a fun evening activity for the whole family, check out the Summer Solstice Celebration & Public Art at Charlestown Navy Yard on Wednesday, June 21, from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Hosted by  Navy Yard Garden + Art and Friends of the Charlestown Navy Yard, the celebration is especially fun for children, who can enjoy free activities like live music, face painting, and ice cream. The main event: Mike Bent’s Annual Summer Solstice “AbrakidabraMagic Show. From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., you can even take a free TrikeHub pedicab ride along the Boston Harborwalk and see sculptures, light installations, and a view of the city’s iconic waterfront as the first official summer sun goes down.

Shoreline Social

On Tuesday June 20, from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., join the Esplanade Association for Waterfront Wellness Week Tour: The Evolution of the Esplanade, an event featuring a stroll along the Charles River to mark the 33rd anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s speech along the riverfront. Attendees will enjoy a walking tour starting near the West End

The tour will cover the history of the park itself and finish with a live excerpt reading of the late South African President and civil rights leader’s speech by Thaddeus Miles of HoodFit & Black Joy Project in Boston at the Hatch Shell. Light refreshments will be served at the end.

Community Day and Cookout on the Waterfront

On Wednesday, June 21, from 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., James Hills, host of popular talk show Java with Jimmy, will be returning to the waterfront to kick off the summer with a day of family-friendly programming at Moakley Park and Carson Beach in Dorchester. Java with Jimmy on the Waterfront: Community Day and Cookout is a great opportunity to meet people from throughout the city and explore the park and neighboring Carson Beach. 

Make sure to tune in to a live virtual discussion on Java with Jimmy LIVE the morning of June 21, where he’ll be joined by local advocates and community leaders to discuss the ways in which Boston’s waterfront can serve every neighborhood. “The conversations and events the Coalition is building for Waterfront Wellness Week are centered around creating spaces where all people, especially those that are most marginalized, feel welcome,” says Hills. 

Wellness by the Water

“It’s becoming increasingly clear that there are tremendous benefits—mentally and physically—to communities that are near waterfront spaces that are public, open, and have good access to air quality,” says Ian Karby, health and wellness advisor for the Coalition. And two Waterfront Wellness events are dedicated to channeling the healing influence of the waterfront. 

In Seaport, Friends of Martin’s Park will be hosting Sip & Stretch: Yoga with Britney & Tea with Tè Spa at Martin’s Park on Saturday, June 24, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Britney Willingham of Move with Britney will lead a free waterfront yoga session perfect for all skill levels, after which Alexis Jones of The Tè Spa will offer tea service. Attendees will learn Vinyasa flow yoga and learn the best ways to incorporate hot or iced tea into their daily life in order to feel its benefits.

On Saturday, June 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., come out to the ICA Watershed in East Boston for Play Date: Self-Love, an exploration of self-care and wellness through the power of art. This engaging and family-friendly experience invites children and adults to explore contemporary art, get centered together, and take part in hands-on workshops about the benefits of acupuncture, reiki, and sound healing with experienced practitioners. 

The event is co-hosted by the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston and The Small Steps Healing Project, an initiative focused on promoting holistic care methods for Boston’s historically marginalized populations. Additional activities will also take place at the ICA’s Seaport location.