Globe Magazine

Summer guide: Things to do around Boston and Cambridge

Here’s a rundown of free and cheap entertainment options, from yoga and Zumba to Shakespeare and movies, all over the 617 area code.

GLOW on the Greenway.

Sadly, you probably can’t spend every day of summer at the beach. But there are plenty of outdoor diversions closer to home, too. Here’s a look at some prime spaces in Boston and Cambridge that will be buzzing with free and cheap activities — festivals, music, movies, games — over the next few months. And they’re only a T ride away.


General info:,

Free Summer Yoga

Thursdays, 6 to 7:15 p.m., June 7–August 30

Unfurl your yoga mat near the Frog Pond for some sun salutations in the park. Four instructors lead free vinyasa classes for participants of all skill levels.

Shakespeare on the Common

Tuesdays to Saturdays 8 p.m., Sundays 7 p.m., July 18–August 5


The Commonwealth Shakespeare Company takes on Richard III for its 24th season of free performances. Faran Tahir plays the ruthless nobleman on a quest for the English throne.

Shakespeare on the Common

Wicked Good Festival

August 18, noon

Juliana Hatfield and Buffalo Tom aren’t the biggest names on the Wicked Good Festival lineup — Bleachers, a.k.a. Jack Antonoff, tops the bill — but the Boston indie music darlings know how to play to the hometown crowd. The free festival is presented by Emerson College’s 88.9 WERS, which bills itself as a “station for musical discovery.”

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Movies at The Lawn

Thursdays, 8 p.m., through late summer

After you snap an Instagram photo on the glowing swings, settle down in front of the big screen on The Lawn on D for a free movie. Selections tend toward modern classics like this week’s old-school (1993) Jurassic

Boston Jazz Fest

August 25, noon

A toe-tapping lineup of contemporary musicians plays the eighth annual Boston Jazz Fest. The free event, which highlights African-American roots in jazz, brings rhythm and soul to South Boston Maritime Park on D Street.

Golden alto saxophone classical instrument isolated on white
Adobe Stock

Free Thursdays at the ICA

Thursdays after 5 p.m.


The Institute of Contemporary Art is free on Thursday evenings year-round, but its outdoor spaces are most appealing in good weather. Two new exhibitions open (indoors) June 27: We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women, 1965-85, which showcases the work of black female artists, and Arthur Jafa: Love Is the Message, the Message Is Death, an examination of black representation in the media in a video installation set to music by Kanye West.

David L. Ryan/Boston Globe Staff/File
The Institute of Contemporary Art


General info:

Lawn Games

Saturdays, noon to 4 p.m., June 30–August 25

North Enders don’t have backyards — they have parks. Test your low-tech skills at Jenga, cornhole, ladder golf, and more at Christopher Columbus Park.

The Fisherman’s Feast

August 16–19

The classic street fair, inspired by centuries-old traditions that trace back to Sicily, begins with the procession of La Madonna Del Soccorso on Thursday. The weekend continues with live music, crafts, food, and, of course, Sunday night’s “flight of the angel.”

The Fisherman’s Feast


Daily through late August

Neon will light up the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway near the Rings Fountain throughout the summer. The GLOW exhibit features iconic Massachusetts signs from 1925 to 1970, including the North End landmark European Restaurant sign (complete with clock) and the cactus-bearing emblem of the Siesta Motel in Saugus. On view 24/7, illuminated daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.


General info:

Kite & Bike Festival

June 9, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Tie your kite tail fast and ride your bike to the Franklin Park golf course for this annual festival (originally slated for May 19, it fell victim to 2018’s erratic weather). If your gears feel a little sticky, pedal over to an onsite mechanic for a tuneup. Pack your panniers with a picnic, or indulge with lunch from a food truck.

BAMS Festival

June 23, noon to 8 p.m.


The Boston Art & Music Soul (BAMS) Festival at Playstead Field celebrates Afrocentric art, music, and culture. The musical lineup is chock-full of national headliners and emerging local talent on two stages  —  listen for vocalist Valerie Stephens, a Boston native, and The Woo Factor Band, a Berklee College of Music mini-reunion. And be sure to check out the live graffiti battles and bustling vendor marketplace.

Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park

Tuesdays, 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., July 17–August 21

Pack a picnic supper and make your way to the Elma Lewis Playhouse outdoor stage for the weekly R&B, reggae, and gospel concert series. Set up your lawn chairs and groove to the sounds of the E-Water Band, Richie Rich & 24 Karat Funk, and more. Earlier in the day, little fans enjoy special children’s shows.


General info:,

Donna Summer Roller Disco Party

June 22, 6 to 10 p.m.

Dust off your roller skates — or “rent” a pair (free) — and get ready to dance. The fifth annual celebration of Boston-born musical sensation Donna Summer is open to skaters of all ages and experience levels. In case of rain, leave all cakes at home.

Timothy Tai for the Boston Globe
Donna Summer Roller Disco Party

Puerto Rican Festival of Massachusetts

Friday, 6 to 11 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon to 11 p.m., July 27–29

More than half a century since it launched in the South End, one of the largest Puerto Rican festivals in the country draws tens of thousands of revelers for music, dancing, food, and plenty of family activities. Sunday’s parade, complete with floats and dance troupes, starts in the Back Bay and ends at City Hall Plaza.

Boston GreenFest

Friday and Saturday, noon to 10 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m., August 3–5

Part neighborhood party, part interactive classroom, Boston GreenFest spreads the word about sustainable living, local food sourcing, and taking action against climate change. In addition to eco-friendly exhibitors, check out the local food emporium, kids’ activities, and more.


August 12, 5 to 8 p.m.

New England’s largest gospel celebration returns to City Hall Plaza with traditional and modern music performed by professional and amateur performers. The Mayor’s Community Gospel Choir, an open-audition ensemble of local residents, kicks things off.


General info:

Healthy, Fit & Fun Zumba

Tuesdays, 6 p.m., July 10–September 4

Bust a move at the Hatch Memorial Shell during a free Zumba session led by instructors from Healthworks. Classes combine a high-energy workout with upbeat music and easy-to-follow dance moves. Healthy, Fit & Fun fitness classes also include sunset yoga and a high-intensity boot camp.

The Esplanade Association
Healthy, Fit & Fun Zumba

Free Friday Flicks

Fridays, dusk, June 22–August 24

Grab popcorn and a blanket and head to the lawn in front of the Hatch Memorial Shell for free family movies to kick off the weekend. The schedule is TBA, but expect kid-friendly comedies and at least a little animation.

Boston Landmarks Orchestra

Wednesdays, 7 p.m., July 18–August 29

The professionals of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra welcome local amateur ensembles to the stage at the Hatch Memorial Shell almost every week. The free concerts range around the classical repertoire, with a new theme every time; opening night is “The Planets.”


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Central Flea

Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Grab a couple of friends and head to Central Square’s sprawling flea market, which moved to University Park this year. Pluck a vintage jacket off the rack, check out the local artwork, peruse the Afrocentric fashion and vinyl records, and stay for a food truck snack to celebrate your brand-new-to-you finds.

Berklee Summer Concert Series

Thursdays, noon and 5 p.m., June 7–August 30

Let loose at free concerts by Berklee College of Music students in the Kendall Square area. For midday tunes in an impressive range of genres, head to 300 Athenaeum Street; for equally varied after-work entertainment, North Plaza is the place to be. Note: Evening concerts move to Tuesdays starting August 7.

Summer Solstice Celebration

June 21, 5 to 9 p.m.

To make the most of the longest day of the year, the Harvard Museums of Science & Culture throw open their doors for a summer solstice extravaganza. Musical performances and solstice-themed crafts, plus free access to four museums, add up to a family-friendly evening.

Nicole DeFeudis is a Globe Magazine correspondent. Emeralde Jensen-Roberts is a member of the Globe staff. Send comments to