33 Free Summer ’16 Festivals around Boston

By: - Wednesday, Jun 29, 2016 - 12:17pm


We’re rounding up Boston’s best free summer events to keep your calendar — and your wallet — full, starting with all our favorite free summer festivals: Street fairs, cultural celebrations, and outdoor music and arts fests. Sure, you have to pay for food and drinks, but just walking through and soaking up the festival atmosphere? That’s as free as the air we breathe, brother.


Boston Harborfest

Because Boston invented America and the rest of y’all are just living in it: The country’s largest Fourth of July festival, Boston Harborfest packs hundreds of activities into four days, including war ships in the harbor, parades, movie screenings, live music, and Saturday night’s fireworks display.

Friday-Sunday, July 1-3, 2016  |  Event website

Chinatown Main Streets Festival

Not that you need a special occasion to treat yourself to dim sum, but Saturday’s Chinatown Main Streets Festival fills the neighborhood with lion dances, Chinese folk dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, fun and games, and lots more.

Saturday, July 2, 2016 | Event website

Boston Celtic Music Festival

Club Passim’s Boston Celtic Music Festival features a free day of performances outside on Palmer Street. Lead singer Isaiah Thomas fronts the band with help from guitarist Jae Crowder, perpetually stoned bassist Kelly Olynyk and fat drummer Jared Sull– oh, right. Celtic with a hard C. Irish music. Got it.

Saturday, July 2, 2016 | Event website

Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular 

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Because Boston invented America and the rest of y’all are just living in it, part two: This year’s Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular on the Esplanade welcomes special guests Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and Little Big Town.

Monday, July 4, 2016 | Event website


Jamaica Plain Porchfest

If there’s another community around Boston that could come close to replicating Somerville’s amazing Porchfest music festival, it’s JP. This year’s Jamaica Plain Porchfest kicks off in Egleston Square and features more than 140 bands and solo acts playing on porches and other community spaces.

Saturday, July 9, 2016 |  Event website

Colombian Festival of Boston

The growing Colombian Festival of Boston moves to City Hall Plaza this year for a day of Colombian food, performances, kids’ activities, and more.

Sunday, July 10, 2016 |  Event website 

Suffolk Downs Racing and Food Truck Festival

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Lock up your daughters and horses: Suffolk Downs Racing and Food Truck Festival brings live racing back to the track for three weekends this summer.

July 9-10, August 6-7, and September 3-4 |  Event website 


Outside the Box Festival

This year’s Outside the Box Festival of music and arts welcomes headliners Smash Mouth and Daughtry to the Common. WTF, OTB? Was Nickelback busy? Don’t let the butt rock headliners turn you off — local bands and performing arts groups are the real draw for the five-day festival, featuring a new innovation initiative this year.

Wednesday-Sunday, July 13-17, 2016  Event website 

Festival Betances

The South End’s Festival Betances Latino celebration draws more than 3,000 fans with live music and dance performances, a parade, traditional cuisine, arts and crafts, a greasy pole competition, and more.

Friday-Sunday, July 15-17, 2016 |  Event website 

ArtBeat 2016

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One of the area’s largest and most innovative arts festivals, Somerville’s ArtBeat 2016 takes over Davis Square with craft vendors, two stages of music, dance in the Somerville Theater, and interactive performances.

Friday-Saturday, July 15-16, 2016 |  Event website 

Boston Urban Arts Festival

Save Our Streets Boston hosts the annual Boston Urban Arts Festival in Hyde Park, encouraging the community to enjoy dancers, painters, and other performers.

Saturday, July 16, 2016 |  Event website

Roxbury Rocks Music Festival

Roxbury Community College’s Roxbury Rocks Music Festival features music, dance, food trucks, free ice cream, balloons and face painting. Performers range from string quartets to steel drums.

Saturday, July 16, 2016 |  Event website

Circle the Square Street Festival 

Medford Square comes alive at the Circle the Square Street Festival with live music, dance and theater performances, food vendors, family activities, and more.

Thursday, July 21, 2016 |  Event website

Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival


The Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival brings artists from all over the world to compete in solo and duo master sculpting competitions. These ain’t no kiddie sand castles, so you shouldn’t crush them just to teach kids a lesson that everything falls apart sooner or later.

Friday-Sunday, July 22-24, 2016 |  Event website 


Hyde Park Jazz Festival

Hyde Park Main Streets hosts the seventh annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival, featuring a Berklee-curated lineup at the Martini Hatch Shell.

Saturday, July 23, 2016 |  Event website

African Festival of Boston

This year’s African Festival of Boston brings the sights and sounds of Africa to the Greenway, showcasing emerging and established musicians, performers, designers, and more.

Sunday, July 24, 2016  Event website

Lowell Folk Festival

Stretching the boundaries of Boston here, but it’s a pretty quick commuter rail ride to join hundreds of thousands of visitors at the Lowell Folk Festival. Five performance stages turn most of downtown Lowell into festival grounds (don’t miss my man Lurrie Bell, Chicago bluesman).

Friday-Sunday, July 29-31, 2016 |  Event website

Puerto Rican Festival

Boston’s three-day Puerto Rican Festival attracts 185,000+ visitors, culminating in a parade from the Back Bay to City Hall Plaza.

Friday-Sunday, July 29-31, 2016 |  Event website


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Tired of just watching artists and performers? Participatory arts and culture festival FIGMENT Boston let’s you get in on the action with interactive art installations, music, and performances on the Greenway.

Saturday-Sunday, July 30-31, 2016 |  Event website


Cambridge Jazz Festival

Saxomophonist Walter Beasley headlines the Cambridge Jazz Festival at Danehy Park. If you get bored, there’s a dog park so you can go look at some puppies. It’s not a festival without puppies, that’s what I always say.

Sunday, July 31, 2016 |  Event website

North End Feasts


August in Boston means sticky/smelly T trips, the Red Sox falling apart, and feasts in the North End every weekend. Besides food (so much food) there’s always a few random blast-from-the-past performers making the rounds — like ‘90s R&B sensations All-4-One at last year’s St. Agrippina di Mineo Feast. Here’s this year’s feast lineup:


Highland Park Music Festival

Roxbury’s Highland Park Music Festival combines two annual events into one weekend-long celebration of black culture: On Saturday, August 6, Soul in the Square pays tribute to Earth Wind and Fire’s Maurice White, Natalie Cole, Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest, David Bowie, Vanity, Muhammed Ali and Prince. Then on Saturday, the Berklee-sponsored Jazz at the Fort brings local and national jazz musicians to Fort Hill.

Saturday-Sunday, August 6-7, 2016 |  Event website

 Boston GreenFest

The region’s largest multicultural environmental festival, Boston GreenFest transforms City Hall Plaza, Faneuil Hall and Sam Adams Park into a cultural classroom. Check out an eco-fashion show, learn to grow a mini-farm in your kitchen, and reward yourself for all the educational stuff with live music and other performances.

Friday-Sunday, August 19-21, 2016 |  Event website

Red Bull Flugtag

This isn’t really a festival but it’s free and you should go: Red Bull Flugtag comes to Boston for the first time in its 25 year history. (People have been drinking Red Bull for 25 years? That can’t be good for your insides.) Teams design and build homemade flying machines to take off from a 28-foot cliff over the Charles River, with winners judged by flight distance, creativity, and showmanship.

Saturday, August 20, 2016 |  Event website


Somerville does street festivals right, whether it’s Porchfest, HONK!, Fluff Fest, or the SomerStreets series. August’s Seize the Summer edition closes down Holland Street from Davis to Teele Square. That reminds me, remember how Boston was going to shut down Newbury Street for a day this summer? Still waiting for an announcement on that, Mr. Mayor.

Sunday, August 21, 2016 |  Event website

Quincy August Moon Festival

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The Quincy August Moon Festival from Quincy Asian Resources fills the North Quincy MBTA parking lot with vendors, food trucks, games, and activities for children, and performances throughout the day.

Sunday, August 21, 2016 |  Event website


Boston Carnival Village

The three-day Boston Carnival Village celebration wraps up with a Trini-style carnival parade along Blue Hill Avenue to Franklin Park Zoo. Follow the masqueraders to the food court in front of the zoo, featuring Caribbean cuisine, arts and crafts, and more.

Saturday, August 27, 2016 |  Event website

The Boston Arts Festival

The Boston Arts Festival kicks off open studio season in Boston’s neighborhoods with more than 70 juried local visual artists and craftspeople, plus local musicians performing at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park throughout the day.

Saturday, September 10, 2016  |  Event website


Before there was a T stop, outlet stores and shitty chain restaurants at Assembly Row in Somerville, there was Riverfest. Check it out for a day full of live local music, dozens of local artists, free children’s activities, a sidewalk sale, and a fireworks show over the Mystic River.

Saturday, September 10, 2016  |  Event website

Cambridge Carnival

Fights and gunfire spoiled last year’s Cambridge Carnival celebration in Kendall Square, but Cambridge’s largest street festival is back for its 24th year. A grand costume parade highlights the celebration, which also features local bands and DJs, an international stage, KidsFest activity zone, and lots more.

Saturday, September 10, 2016  |  Event website