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Boston's 10 Best Art and Culture Events this Summer

Picture of Jessica Dawdy
Jessica Dawdy
Updated: 25 August 2016
One of the oldest cities in America, Boston has eye-catching architecture, historic attractions and a rich cultural scene, attracting over 12 million visitors every year. Summer is a particularly wonderful time to visit the city, when Boston lights up with some of the year’s most exciting art and culture events. Here is our guide to 10 exciting, unmissable options this season.

 

Performing Arts | The Phantom of the Opera at Boston Opera House

June 26 – July 20, 2014

The Phantom of the Opera, officially Broadway’s longest running show, will have a six-week run at the Boston Opera House beginning in June. Cameron Mackintosh’s production of this iconic rock musical, based on Gaston Leroux’s 1910 book, features new lighting designs, costumes, scenery and choreography. This large 52-person production recently finished a sold-out tour in the UK. The beautiful Boston Opera House is the perfect venue for this classic show, with tapestries, golf leaf finishes and oak paneling lovingly restored to recreate the splendor of when it first opened 84 years ago.

Boston Opera House, 539 Washington St, Boston, MA, USA, +16172593400

 

Film | The Roxbury International Film Festival

25 – 29 June, 2014

Held over four days in June, the Roxbury International Film Festival (RIFF) is New England’s largest festival featuring films by, for, and about people of colour. RIFF accepts submissions from filmmakers worldwide, with a preference for New England-based filmmakers. In addition to presenting several awards, including Best Documentary and Emerging Local Filmmaker, the festival features panel discussions, workshops, and Q&A sessions with filmmakers. Established in 1999, the festival holds most screenings at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Highlights of this year’s features include Lift which stars Kerry Washington in one of her first on-screen roles; and The Life and Crimes of Doris Payne, a documentary about a jewel thief.

This event will be held in various locations across Boston

 

Culture | Boston Chinatown August Moon Festival

10 August, 2014

The Chinese Mid-Autumn festival is a bit like American Thanksgiving: it’s a time when friends and families come together to celebrate the harvest. Although private celebrations typically take place in September or October, in Boston the public festival is held in August. Centered at Harrison and Beach Streets in Chinatown, the Boston Chinatown August Moon Festival is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the city’s Chinese community. The event features cultural performances, including lion dance troupes, ribbon and folk dancers, martial arts demonstrations, as well as Chinese music and opera. In addition to these live performances, local vendors offer Chinese street food, traditional clothing, and a variety of other interesting souvenirs.

Harrison and Beach Streets, Chinatown, Boston, MA, United States, +16175422574

 

Culture | Free Fun Fridays

June 27 – August 29

The Highland Street Foundation’s Free Fun Fridays is a programme that grants free admission to select museums and attractions throughout Boston and the surrounding area. Every Friday, over a dozen Boston cultural venues open their doors to visitors, with no registration or fees required. The programme is now in its 6th year, with the Highland Street Foundation covering all admission costs by providing grants to participating venues. The diverse group of venues includes the Freedom Trail, a path that takes visitors to 16 historically significant Boston sites; as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, which houses more than 450,000 works of art.

This event will be held in various locations across Boston

 

Food | Boston Seafood Festival

27 July, 2014

Boston Seafood Festival showcases the history of this city’s fishing industry, with a day of food and activities celebrating seafood. The 2014 festival takes place on the Boston Fish Pier, the oldest operating fishing pier in the nation. The event includes cooking demonstrations, music, the New England Aquarium Touch Tank, an oyster shucking contest and educational panels featuring scientists, fishermen and nutritionists. There are more than 20 food vendors, some of whom offer free seafood samples and others who provide a small menu of lobster, oysters, swordfish and other seafood favourites. Admission fees go to the Boston Fisheries Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting Boston’s seafood and fishing industries.

Boston Seafood Festival, 1 Fish Pier Street East, Boston, MA, United States, +16179863573

 

Culture | Arts on the Arcade

11 July – 29 August, 2014

Arts on the Arcade is a fun-filled yearly event that features visual artists, live music, and a farmers’ market. Held every Friday, Arts on the Arcade is an opportunity for local artists to sell original works, including leather goods, handmade clothing, photography, jewelry, and paintings. Founded in 2003, this free event is popular with both tourists and locals alike. The farmers’ market offers an excellent selection of flowers, produce, cheese and bread. The 2014 musical line-up features plenty of local musicians, including Boston-based contemporary folk duo Box of Birds.

Arts on the Arcade, Faneuil Hall, 4 South Market Building, Boston, MA, United States, +16177239109

 

Boston Jerkfest
Courtesy of Boston Jerkfest

 

Food | Boston Jerkfest

28 June, 2014

Boston Jerkfest is a festival celebrating spicy Caribbean cuisine. The second annual festival takes place at the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, with both indoor and outdoor festivities. Named after ‘jerk’, a Jamaican spice blend typically rubbed on meat, the festival features live music, chef demonstrations, a cocktail competition, as well as craft beer and rum tastings. The ‘Spice Lane’ area is filled with food vendors, all of whom serve at least one jerk dish, along with other traditional Caribbean foods like curried goat, fried plantains, spicy nuts and hot sauces.

Boston Jerkfest, 41 Berkeley St, Boston, MA, United States, +16173957680

 

Boston Pride
Boston Pride | © Marilyn Humphries

 

Culture | Boston Pride Week

6 – 14 June, 2014

Boston Pride Week is New England’s largest gay pride event, celebrating the Boston community’s ‘diverse history, culture and identities’. Throughout the week, bars, hotels, restaurants, shops, and other establishments across the city hold events and parties, including a number of live music performances. The Pride Parade, which takes place on June 14th, is one of the highlights of the festival, beginning at noon around Boylston and Clarendon Streets, and finishing six hours later at City Hall Plaza, the site of the Boston Gay Pride Festival.

This event will be held in various locations across Boston

 

Boston Green Fest
© Karen Weber

 

Culture | Boston GreenFest

15 – 17 August, 2014

GreenFestis a three-day festival focusing on greener living and helping the Boston community to become more earth-friendly. GreenFest features more than 200 exhibitors, educational workshops and presentations, as well as interactive activities and on-going live performances on three stages. Event highlights include the EcoBazaar, where visitors can shop for eco-friendly products, including clothing, jewelry and household items; as well as EcoTerrace, where adult visitors can listen to music with a glass of sustainable wine or beer. GreenFest also features the ‘One Galloon Challenge’, in which hybrid vehicles drive on only one gallon of fuel from various points in the Boston area, to arrive at Boston City Hall Plaza, where the festival takes place.

Boston GreenFest, Boston City Hall Plaza, Boston, MA, United States, +16174774840

 

Culture | Boston Harborfest

2 – 6 July, 2014

The largest patriotic celebration in the country, Boston Harborfest is an annual five day festival held around Independence Day. Focusing on Boston’s colonial and maritime history, the festival features over 200 events, including tours of tall ships, live music, historical re-enactments, walking tours, and dinner cruises. Beginning on July 2nd with an elaborate opening ceremony, the festival concludes on July 6th with Chowderfest. During Chowderfest, visitors sample traditional New England clam chowder from some of Boston’s best restaurants and vote for their favourite. Many of the Harborfest events are free, with most taking place around Boston’s City Hall Plaza.

This event will be held in various locations across Boston