Globe Magazine

Things to do in Greater Boston this spring

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

“Moulin Rouge: La Goulue,” Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891
IMage (POSTER, COLOR LITHOGRAPH) FROM THE Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Moulin Rouge: La Goulue, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891


Thirst Boston 2019 / April 26-28

Sip on this: workshops, lessons, and seminars — plus parties — with a boozy bent. Learn the art of bartending from professionals, explore familiar and unusual ingredients, and maybe discover your new go-to drink. At the Boston Center for Adult Education and various local bars. From $25; passes available. 617-917-5090;

Independent Bookstore Day / April 27

Near or far, you’ll find fun and like-minded bookworms at one of the hundreds of independent bookstores celebrating with readings, sales, family activities, and more. Stay close to home or hit the road — the national event is a big deal all over bookstore-rich New England.

New England VegFest / April 28

Whether you’re committed to or just curious about vegetarianism and veganism, the DCU Center in Worcester is the place to be. Check out the exhibits, vendors, and presentations, and take in a performance by “plant based” rapper Grey (who inspired Jada Pinkett Smith to serve a vegan Thanksgiving dinner). Free.

Women in Comedy Festival / May 2-5


Among the headliners of this year’s festival are best-selling author Phoebe Robinson (of the 2 Dope Queens podcast) and Sirius radio host Nikki Glaser — just two of the biggest names on a schedule featuring 200-plus top-notch acts. All genders are welcome, but women spearhead this event, at venues in Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville. Ticket prices vary; some events free.

SoWa Open Market / May 5-October 27

Like robins and mud, the return of the SoWa Open Market means spring. Vendors sell jewelry, ceramics and other home goods, fashion, photographs, and more; food trucks, a farmers market, and a beer garden provide sustenance; and live music plays as stylish shoppers — and their cute kids and dogs — make the scene on Sundays at 460, 500, and 540 Harrison Avenue. Free. 857-362-7692;

Rick Atkinson / May 15

One of today’s foremost chroniclers of American military history, Rick Atkinson (The Long Gray Line, An Army at Dawn), turns his talents to the Revolutionary War. The former Washington Post staffer reads from the first book in a planned trilogy, The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777, at the Brattle Theatre. $42.50 (includes book and $5 Harvard Book Store coupon), on sale April 4; $6 (includes $5 coupon), on sale April 18. 617-661-1515;

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Eddie Izzard: Wunderbar / May 16-17

Legendary comedian and political activist Eddie Izzard takes the stage at the Wang Theatre. The polyglot genius jokes about everything, from his “theory of the universe” to the world’s current political climate, in a show that originated with improv in French and German — and comes to the United States in English. From $50.75. 800-982-2787;

Boston Hong Kong Dragon Boat Festival / June 9

Head to the banks of the Charles River near the Weeks Footbridge to watch more than 40 dragon boat teams from around the country compete. Expect to see Asian food vendors, arts and craft stations, and traditional Asian dance performances. Free.


Musketaquid Earth Day Parade 2019 / April 27


Concord, the first municipality in the country to ban single-use plastic water bottles, puts on a show for Earth Day. The parade runs across downtown — bring your own banners and posters — before a ceremony at the North Bridge, followed by the Arts & Environment Festival at the Old Manse. Free. 978-371-0820;

Japan Festival Boston / April 27-28

Kyoto, a sister city of Boston, is the theme of this year’s matsuri (traditional Japanese-style festival). Learn about the city’s dialect, Kyoto-ben, and its geisha traditions through workshops led by Kyoto natives. Vendors offer food, clothing, and other merchandise, and cosplayers bring cultural touchstones like Pokémon to life. On Boston Common near Charles and Beacon streets. Free. 781-728-5739;

Kite & Bike Festival / May 18

Spring is in the air, and so are kites! Pedal to the Franklin Park Playstead with your own kite, or make one at an art crafting station. Food trucks will be on site, and picnickers are welcome. Free.

Cambridge Arts River Festival / June 1

Far more than just another street fair, this festival brings out talented performers of all stripes, from musicians to magicians, plus street performers, food and arts vendors, and much more. Relocated for 2019, the festival takes over Central Square and features a Mermaid Parade along Massachusetts Avenue. Free. 617-349-4380;

2019 Strawberry Festival / June 8

Rain or shine, spend a berry fun day on the Topsfield Town Common eating strawberries — straight up, in shortcake, and in bowls of whipped cream. Live music accompanies the fruit, along with food vendors, kids’ activities, and dozens of artisans. Free.

Summer Solstice Celebration / June 21


The longest day of the year brings free evening admission to the Harvard Museums of Science and Culture as well as crafts and other activities, including creating flower crowns. At all four museums and, weather permitting, along Divinity Avenue. Free after 5 p.m.


Tori Kelly / April 2

She gained popularity in 2012 by covering Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin Bout You” in a YouTube video that went viral. Tori Kelly plays the House of Blues on a North American tour in support of her 2018 album, Hiding Place. From $35. 888-693-2583;

PJ Morton / May 3

Best known as a Maroon 5 keyboard player, PJ Morton is also a producer and a Grammy-winning solo artist. The R&B star, with sister duo The Amours leading his backup band, brings his Keys and a Mic Acoustic Tour to City Winery. From $25. 617-933-8047;

BYSO Final Concert / June 9

The Boston Youth Symphony Orchestras season wraps up with a performance at Sanders Theatre. The Boston Youth Symphony tackles Strauss’s Symphonia Domestica and two numbers that prominently feature violin soloists, and the Junior Repertory Orchestra performs Haydn’s “Military” Symphony (No. 100). $25-$30, students and seniors $20-$25. 617-496-2222;


MetroWest Student Film Festival / April 5-7

The inaugural event shines a light on teen filmmakers from the western suburbs as their shorts compete for honors in four categories. Judges for the Student Choice Award attend Walnut Hill School for the Arts and helped organize the festival. At The Center for Arts in Natick. $5/screening; three-day pass $12. 508-647-0097;

Boston International Film Festival / April 11-16

Binge on narrative and documentary features and shorts from around the world (subtitled in English when necessary). High-profile selections include the documentary Noam Chomsky: Internationalism or Extinction and the French tear-jerker Rémi Sans Famille (Rémi, Nobody’s Boy). At the Regal Cinemas Fenway (opening night festivities) and other venues in Boston and Cambridge. $12/screening; passes and packages available. 617-482-3310;

Independent Film Festival Boston / April 24-May 1

This year’s lineup is TBA, but the organizers’ track record is good: last year’s festival included Bo Burnham’s Eighth Grade and closed with Morgan Neville’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor. At the Somerville Theatre, Coolidge Corner Theatre, and Brattle Theatre. Tickets go on sale April 10. From $12.


Derek Hough Live! / April 23

On his first solo tour, dancer and Emmy-winning choreographer Derek Hough shows off the moves that helped put Dancing With the Stars on the map. At the Wang Theatre. From $49.50. 800-745-3000;

Cinderella / May 10-June 8

Prokofiev’s score, Sir Frederick Ashton’s choreography, and the talent of Boston Ballet combine to make dreams come true in Cinderella, at the Boston Opera House. As is traditional for this interpretation, men portray the over-the-top stepsisters. From $37. 617-695-6955;


Les Misérables / April 16-28

The touring company of the second revival of the Broadway phenomenon visits the Boston Opera House. Based on — and perhaps better known than — Victor Hugo’s classic novel, Les Misérables features multiple songs that have become musical theater classics since its premiere in 1985. From $44.50. 617-259-3400;

Vietgone / April 26-May 25

Based on the story of the playwright’s parents, Vietgone tells the tale of a couple who met in an Arkansas refugee camp after the fall of Saigon. Qui Nguyen mixes music and martial arts with comedy, drama, and Vietnamese-American history in his play, a Company One Theatre production at the Boston Center for the Arts. $25, $20 seniors, $15 students. 617-933-8600;

Kinky Boots / May 7-12

Stark, sassy, and sweet, the 2013 Tony Award winner for best musical prances onto the Emerson Colonial Theatre stage. Harvey Fierstein and Cyndi Lauper collaborated on the show, which tells the story of the friendship between Lola, a drag queen, and Charlie, a reluctant shoe factory owner. From $44.50. 888-616-0272;


“Toulouse-Lautrec and the Stars of Paris” April 7-August 4

Long before supermarket tabloids and gossip websites, celebrity culture infiltrated 19th-century France. Nearly 200 works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) and his contemporaries provide evidence at the Museum of Fine Arts. $25, seniors and students $23, ages 7 to 17 $10, under 7 free. 617-267-9300;

“Georgie Friedman: Fragments of Antarctica” / April 13-September 15

Multimedia artist Georgie Friedman documents climate change in Antarctica through photographs, sketches, a two-channel video, and kinetic sculptures suspended from the ceilings at the Museum of Fine Arts. The exhibition helps visitors visualize the reality of melting icebergs and disappearing glaciers. $25, seniors and students $23, ages 7 to 17 $10, under 7 free. 617-267-9300;

“Rooted, Revived, Reinvented: Basketry in America” / May 18-August 11

Learn about wicker, wire, and the woven in this exhibition chronicling the history of Native American basketry. Beyond  mere vessels, baskets are a form of artistic expression incorporating intricate patterns, geometric shapes, and various raw materials, including grasses and pine needles. At the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton. $10,  seniors $8, students $5, under 12 free. 508-588-6000;

“Cauleen Smith: We Already Have What We Need” / May 25-March 2020

Originally trained in film, Cauleen Smith uses video, music, textiles, works on paper, and much more in her multimedia installations. Her latest show centers on a video installation that incorporates the visitors passing through what she calls “living rooms” and “space stations” at MASS MoCA. $20, seniors $18, students $12, kids 6-16 $8, under 6 free. 413-662-2111;

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