Things to do in Greater Boston this summer

Your summer calendar of events, music, theater, and more.

1,275-foot-long painting is at the center of a new exhibit, “A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World,” at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
New Bedford Whaling Museum
A 1,275-foot-long painting is at the center of a new exhibit, “A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World,” at the New Bedford Whaling Museum.


Joel Kim Booster / June 21-23

Raised in Illinois by a conservative white family, Korean adoptee Joel Kim Booster says he “knew I was gay before I knew I was Asian.” Hot off his 2017 successes — a Comedy Central special and his debut album, Model Minority — Booster brings his standup act to Laugh Boston. $20-$25. 617-725-2844;

Boston Harborfest / June 28-July 4

To celebrate the 242nd anniversary of the United States, the city throws a party complete with Saturday night fireworks over the harbor. The festivities include dozens of tours, talks, cruises, and other family-friendly activities. Some events ticketed. 617-439-7700;

Free Fun Fridays / June 29-August 31

From Pittsfield to Provincetown, 100 venues across Massachusetts — 10 per week — throw open their doors as part of the Highland Street Foundation’s annual program. Museums, theaters, gardens, and other cultural venues welcome visitors, and many plan special events to coincide with the free fun. Check website for details. Free.

Boston Pizza Festival / July 7-8


Sample a Sicilian, New York-style, gluten-free, or even vegan concoction from one of the 30 pizzerias represented at City Hall Plaza during this all-you-can-eat event. Live music and cooking demos are on the schedule, too. $45, $35 in advance, $20 under 10.

A Spectacle in Motion: The Grand Panorama of a Whaling Voyage ’Round the World /July 14-October 8

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is big enough to hold a whale skeleton but not big enough for the 1,275-foot-long painting at the center of this groundbreaking exhibition. The quarter-mile panorama, painted by Caleb Purrington and Benjamin Russell in 1848, is freshly restored and will be on display at Kilburn Mill. The historic mill is a 10-minute drive or shuttle-bus ride from the museum, where starting July 29 visitors can experience the 8½-foot-tall painting as intended — scrolling past on a stage-mounted screen. The original is too fragile for that, so a digital copy recreates the experience as visitors watch from on and around the whaling vessel Lagoda. Accompanying interactive displays in both locations help put the panorama in context. Panorama display free; museum $17, seniors $15, students $10, children $7, under 3 free. 508-997-0046;

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Artbeat 2018 / July 14

The theme of this year’s festival is “flip,” so expect to see pieces that make your head tilt. Some works are upside-down, sideways, and backward, others more figurative. Davis Square hosts 75 art vendors, live music and dance, and more. Free. 617-625-6600;

Hannah Orenstein / July 17

Hannah Orenstein, who grew up in Needham, worked as a professional matchmaker after graduating from NYU. She reads from her first novel, Playing With Matches — about an NYU grad working as a matchmaker — at Porter Square Books. Free. 617-491-2220;

Provincetown Carnival / August 11-18

This townwide event boosts P-town’s summer population from 60,000 to 90,000. In keeping with this year’s theme — “Mardi Gras by the Sea!” — New Orleans flair jazzes up the LGBTQ art fairs, parties, costume ball, drag brunch, and more. Don’t miss the Thursday parade down Commercial Street. Some events ticketed.

Gloucester Schooner Festival / August 31-September 3


New and old sailboats visit Gloucester Harbor for the 34th annual Schooner Festival. Head to a block party on Friday, watch the Boat Parade of Lights on Saturday, and see a sailing competition for the Esperanto Cup on Sunday. Most events free. 978-281-0470;

Boston Arts Festival /September 8-9

Marvel at local art at Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park. Meet creators, from photographers to sculptors, and watch live musical performances to kick off open studios season in Boston. Free.

Cambridge Carnival / September 9

Rain or shine, celebrate African traditions at the Cambridge Carnival in Kendall Square. Eat international food and check out crafts vendors and the parade, by extravagantly costumed revelers, down Massachusetts Avenue and Main Street. Free. 617-863-0476;


Park Fest / June 23

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum hosts activities inspired by its spring installations. Paint a giant parachute, play a round of mini golf, or listen to live music. $20, seniors $15, children $10, under 6 free. 781-259-8355;

Newport Kite Festival / July 14-15

Go fly a kite at Brenton Point State Park. The annual Newport Kite Festival attracts all ages and skill levels, from experienced kite club members to parents and children. Free. 401-324-9335;

International Sand Sculpting Festival / July 20-22


Revere Beach is people-watching paradise all summer; this weekend, dramatic sand sculptures — and, on Saturday night, fireworks — add to the fun. Free. 781-902-9742;

Figment Boston /July 28-29

Take the kids to an exhibit they can touch. Figment, an interactive art festival, returns to the Rose Kennedy Greenway, starting at Dewey Square and extending north. Past installations have included giant chess and a bubble-wrap dance floor. Free.

Marshfield Fair / August 17-26

The Marshfield Fair offers plenty to do every day, but on August 23, kids under 13 get in free. Take the little ones on the bumper cars and kiddie rides. Older kids can rock climb, hop on a roller coaster, or even bungee jump. $10, under 7 free. 781-834-6629;


Make Music Boston / June 21

Celebrate the longest day of the year with live performances throughout Greater Boston. Locations include Boston Common, Downtown Crossing, the Boston Public Market, the Charles River Esplanade, and Copley Square. Genres vary from hip-hop to pop to opera to bluegrass. Free.

Pops on the Lawn / June 24

Set up your lawn chair at Danehy Park for a concert by the Cambridge Symphony Orchestra. Expect to hear show tunes, marches, and classical pieces. Kids are picked from the crowd to help conduct. Free. 844-276-4634;

Steve Miller Band With Peter Frampton /July 2

Go back to the ’70s with this doubleheader at the Koussevitzky Music Shed in Lenox. Peter Frampton makes his Tanglewood debut, performing hits like “Show Me the Way.” The Steve Miller Band takes the stage with classics like “The Joker” and “Livin’ in the USA.” From $55. 617-266-1492;

New Bedford Folk Festival / July 7-8

With seven stages and more than 70 performers, making the most of your festival pass should be easy. Head to the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park to see folk singer John Gorka, the New Bedford Harbor Sea Chantey Chorus, and more. One-day pass $30, $22.50 through June 23; weekend pass $40, $30 through June 23. 508-994-2900;

Emerson String Quartet / July 24-25

Tanglewood welcomes the Emerson String Quartet at Seiji Ozawa Hall in Lenox. Over two nights, the ensemble will play all five of Beethoven’s late string quartets. From $20. 617-266-1492;

Jason Mraz / August 2

The Grammy-winning singer of “I’m Yours” and “I Won’t Give Up” takes the stage at the Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. Folk singer Brett Dennen opens. From $29. 617-728-1600;

Blondie with And the Kids / August 3

One way or another, you can find Blondie at Mass MoCA performing the band’s greatest hits. Northampton indie folk-rock band And the Kids opens. Tickets from $65, from $55 in advance. 413-662-2111;

South Shore Country Festival / September 8

Two Marshfield Fairgrounds stages host stars from Uncle Kracker to Easton Corbin. While you’re listening, try your luck in a cornhole tournament or pay a visit to the food trucks. From $44.95, children $15. 781-534-3919;


Nantucket Film Festival / June 20-25

Hop on the ferry to Nantucket for five days of family films, documentaries, virtual reality demonstrations, and more at various locations on the island. The centerpiece is Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about former children’s show host and Nantucket resident Fred Rogers. Prices vary; passes available. 646-480-1900;

Roxbury International Film Festival / June 20-30

The Museum of Fine Arts hosts a series of 30 films, ranging from documentary to experimental, produced by people of color. A free screening of Black Panther on the Huntington Avenue lawn kicks things off on June 20. $11 per film; passes available through June 25. 617-267-9300;

Magic 106.7 Family Fun Film Festival / July 7-August 25

Grab the picnic blanket, stake out a spot on the Prudential Center lawn, and take in a free movie. Films start at sundown every Saturday. This season features a mix of old (The Lion King) and new (Wonder). 800-746-7778;



Bring It! Live / July 19

Catch the Dancing Dolls, the hip-hop dance troupe from Lifetime’s Bring It!, at the Lynn Memorial Auditorium. The ensemble, known for its success in hip-hop majorette competitions, is on its latest national tour. From $32.

Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE with Arturo O’Farrill / August 8-12

Part of the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, New Conversations combines African, Caribbean, and contemporary dance. The Brooklyn-based company Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE performs the piece with live music for the first time. Grammy-winning jazz pianist Arturo O’Farrill and jazz ensemble Resist share top billing with the dancers. $45, $65, and $78. 413-243-9919;

Houston Ballet / August 15-18

The Texas troupe returns to the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival for a night of contemporary dance. The program includes an eight-person performance set to Bach and a world premiere with music composed by David Lang. $45, $65, and $78. 413-243-9919;

Genius at Play / September 6-16

Boston Ballet celebrates the centennial of choreographer Jerome Robbins’s birth with three of his works. Interplay, Fancy Free, and Glass Pieces are set to music by Leonard Bernstein, Morton Gould, and Philip Glass. Tickets on sale July 23. 617-695-6950;


Disney’s Aladdin / July 5-August 5

Ride your magic carpet (or just take the T) to the Boston Opera House to see the Disney classic about a princess, a commoner, and a genie lamp. From $40. 617-259-3400;

Ragtime The Musical / July 27-August 19

Three stories, one dream. The Company Theatre in Norwell stages the Tony Award-winning musical, which follows a native-born white family, a Jewish immigrant and his daughter, and a Harlem musician as they chase the American dream in the early 1900s. $41 Thursday; $43 Friday through Sunday. 781-871-2787;

The Book of Mormon / August 14-26

Looking for a laugh with a side of social commentary? Head to the Boston Opera House to take in a modern-day classic and nine-time Tony Award winner about two missionaries sent to Uganda to spread Mormonism. Tickets from $35. 617-259-3400;

The Niceties / August 31-October 7

Boston native Eleanor Burgess’s new play focuses on a white professor and her black student and their discussion of slavery’s part in the founding of the United States. The Huntington Theatre Company production runs at the Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts. Tickets on sale June 19. 617-266-0800;

Native Gardens / September 12-October 7

What happens when new neighbors claim they own some of your land? Find out in this comedy at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, starring Broadway veterans Joel Colodner and Julia Brothers. Tickets on sale July 30. 978-654-4678;


Juneteenth / June 20

Come to the Museum of Fine Arts to commemorate the end of slavery. (Juneteenth is actually Tuesday, June 19; museum admission is by voluntary contribution on Wednesdays after 4 p.m.) In collaboration with the Transformative Culture Project, the museum will showcase special art exhibitions and performances by local musicians. Free. 617-267-9300;

Lily Simonson: Painting in the Deep / June 30-June 30, 2019

Dive into an exhibition inspired by ocean life at the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Six murals, painted with luminiscent pigments that glow under black lights, portray what it’s like hundreds of feet underwater. $12, students and seniors $10, children $8, under 3 free. 617-495-3045;

French Pastels: Treasures from the Vault / June 30-January 6, 2019

Head to the Museum of Fine Arts to see 40 rarely exhibited pastels by Monet, Renoir, Manet, and more. The delicate renderings are from the late 19th century, during the birth of Impressionism in France. $25, students and seniors $23, children free. 617-267-9300;

10,000 Miles Along the Yangzi River / July 21-September 30

It’s not the actual Yangtze River, but it comes close. The centerpiece of this Museum of Fine Arts exhibition is a 53-foot-long scroll painted by Wang Hui, an artist who served in the court of the Chinese emperor around the turn of the 18th century. Soundscapes of the river accompany the installation. $25, students and seniors $23, children free. 617-267-9300;

Carrie Mae Weems: Strategies of Engagement / September 10-December 13

The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College turns the spotlight on prominent conceptual artist Carrie Mae Weems. The exhibition of work by the MacArthur “genius grant” recipient includes celebrated series such as “From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried.” Free. 617-552-8587;

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