7/10-7/13 Sagres (Portuguese Tall Ship) @ Fan Pier
7/13-7/17 Outside The Box Boston @ Boston Common
7/20 (On-going) Shakespeare on the Common: Love’s Labour’s Lost @ Boston Common
7/30 & 7/31 Walker Stalker @ Westin Waterfront
(Summer-long) Boston Red Sox @ Fenway Park
Summer is undeniably in full swing here in Beantown, and the month of July sees Boston at its most festive, with everything from our renowned Independence Day celebrations, colorful old-world parades in the North End’s Italian communities, and a variety of concerts and activities across the city and the region. For the past 35 years and counting, the Boston Harborfest has been the city’s inaugural summer event, with an array of activities spanning everything from guided history walks, the Taste of Harborfest food festival, Tall Ship Tours & Cruises, and so much more, running from July 1st to July 4th.
July 2nd sees Boston’s frenetic Chinatown come to life with the annual Chinatown Main Street Festival, a colorful daytime celebration showcasing the city’s sizable Chinese population featuring Lion Dances, live martial arts demonstrations, traditional Chinese music performances, and even a few street food vendors.
Of course, the high point of Boston’s festival calendar is undeniably the July 4th Concert & Fireworks Spectacular, which brings visitors from Boston and beyond, along with an ocean of lawn chairs, to the Hatch Shell, an outdoor shell-shaped concert venue, perched along the Charles River on Boston’s Esplanade. Come early if you want good seats to catch the free show starring Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas--and the real pop stars of the day, the Boston Pops, as they literally blast through the night sky with Tchaikovsky’s bombastic 1812 Overture followed by the city’s stupendous fireworks display. Written to commemorate Russia’s victory over France, the Tchaikovsky’s piece has become a cherished tradition at July 4th celebrations, because who doesn’t love a percussion section peppered with actual cannon fire?
So, after the smell of grilled hot dogs and gun smoke have left the air, and July’s excitement is far from over. Though it won’t be until 2017 when we’ll see a full-fledge return of the Tall Ships to the harbor, you can still head down to see (and tour) Portugal’s majestic vessel, the Sagres, when she docks at Fan Pier from July 10th through the 13th.
From July 13th through the 17th, the city welcomes back the popular (and FREE) Outside the Box Festival for a 3rd year at the Boston Commons. “OTB” will focus on a wide variety of performances, from big-name recording artists (such as Smash Mouth and Daughtry, this year) as well as a wide array of offbeat and innovative acts and artists from around the region.
Also FREE and taking place at the Boston Commons, it’s the annual return of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, who will bring their performance of an early comedy, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Tuesdays through Saturdays starting July 20th. Perhaps Canada’s own contemporary bard, the shoeless Justin Bieber, will resurface on a bench for one of these delightful park-performances of Shakespeare’s look at the complications of young love…
Though not actually in Boston, and far from free, you probably should not pass up the chance to take in this year’s stellar lineup at the iconic mother-of-all-folk-festivals, the Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island, just an hour and a half from Boston. 2016’s eclectic set has something for almost everyone—Graham Nash for ye olde Woodstockers; Norah Jones for you contemporary pop-jazz & blues fans; foot-stompin’ classics from the French Quarter’s finest, the acclaimed Preservation Hall Jazz Band; plenty of brooding and quirky alt-folk acts (Violent Femmes, Father John Misty, etc.) for you urban lumberjacks out there; and a whole lot more, from July 22nd through July 24th.
But yes—back to FREE activities, which seem to be everywhere this month; including Free Friday Flicks, the summer-long film series going on down at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade—this summer’s highlights include last year’s long-awaited addition to the beloved Star Wars saga, The Force Awakens (featuring 3 exciting new faces, an epic Jedi beard, and an emotional wookie moment).
Something more for you lovers of sci-fi, horror, zombies and Breaking Bad (trust me…these are related somehow): the Walker Stalker convention comes to Boston’s Westin Waterfront, where you can rub elbows with some of the horror (etc.) genre’s biggest stars, such as cast members from The Walking Dead, Judith O’Dea of the classic Night of the Living Dead, Mistress of the Dark herself, Elvira, and Giancarlo Esposito (who’s recent turn as Breaking Bad’s diabolical but ill-fated kingpin, Gustavo Fring, won’t be forgotten anytime soon). Catch a creepy Q&A or a photo op July 30th and 31st.
And last but not least, don’t miss your chance to celebrate the US of A’s birthday by taking in a game of America’s pastime at America’s oldest ballpark, Fenway. Catch the explosive offense of the 2016 Boston Red Sox, as “Big Papi” David Ortiz continues to wield his red-hot bat through the final season of his career—maybe on Independence Day afternoon against the Rangers with the special July 4th All-American BBQ ticket.
Whatever you decide, you’ll really have no shortage of all types of exciting activities here in Boston, this summer!