Newport Folk Fest
In 1965 Dylan famously played that new fangled electric rock here and was stoned by crowds of angry folk purists (he was also probably stoned otherwise, but as he says, everybody must be). Nowadays there’s not a genre the festival won’t embrace. This year you can see The Decemberists, Elvis Costello, and crazed gypsy rockers Gogol Bordello desecrating the hallowed seaside stage right next to uber traditionalists like Ramblin’ Jack Eliot and icons such as Emmylou Harris. $69–$77; July 30–31; Fort Adams State Park, Newport, RI (newportfolkfest.net)
Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party
One of the very best things about summertime is the preponderance of barbeques—and all the better if you’re not the one who has to do the cooking. Come get your fill of some of the best barbeque from all over the world at the Phantom Gourmet BBQ Beach Party, held at City Hall Plaza. $10 gets you in the door, and from there you can enjoy music, beer gardens and meaty goodness from stellar named barbeque geniuses like Joey “Boom Boom” Sutphen from Texas and Joe “The Big Show” from Kansas City. Yeehaw! $10, Fri, June 24, Sat June 25 noon–10pm; Sun, June 26 noon–7pm. June 24-26 (bbq.phantomgourmet.com)
Expand your circle of foodie friends this summer by signing up for Grubwith.us, a social networking-meets-dinner meet-up website just launched in Boston and already going strong in Chicago, NYC, LA, and more. All you do is register online, check out what restos are participating, and pre-pay for your all-inclusive meal. Then you show up on the set date and time and nosh family-style, allowing you to chat it up with some new friends and try out some new cuisine. Participating restaurants include Maurizio's in the North End, Masa in the South End, and Hana Sushi in Cambridge. Grubwith.us
Let's Talk About Food Festival
Put down the Cheetos and head to the Museum of Science on June 25 from 10a-5p for Let’s Talk About Food Festival, an outdoor fiesta celebrating (you guessed it) food, plus health, cooking, and science. You can watch expert chefs do presentations and cooking demos, check out booths and tents from a variety of exhibitors, and stuff your face from the pop-up food court staffed by loads of local food trucks. The event is free, and you can spend the day learning how to make the old “you are what you eat” adage work to your advantage. Fri June 25, 10am–5pm; Museum of Science, 1 Science Park, Boston (617-723-2500, mos.org)
Nantucket Film Fest
This one’s more than just a film festival; it’s a star-studded experience. In addition to top-notch indie and mainstream film fare, the four day event also includes features like the traditional Late Night Storytelling at the Sconset Casino with Anne Meara and Mike O’Malley, where celebs and local folk alike tell tales based on a theme. Ben Stiller will present an all-star comedy roundtable and Vera Farminga will be on hand to accept the Compass Rose Acting Award and to present her directorial debut Higher Ground. June 22– 26 (nantucketfilmfestival.org)
Good old-fashioned fair fun
Brockton might have a reputation for being a place where no one wants to go, however this fair gives you plenty of reasons: how about Stock Car Football? Demolition derbies? Comedian/Hypnotists? Lumberjack contests? Throw in fireworks, a circus and amusement rides and you’ve got a serious destination for fun (June 29–July 10; brocktonfair.com). Want more? The Marshfield Fair throws in professional wrestling, truck pulls, a beekeeping demonstration, stilt walkers, puppets and farm animals, and you may never go home again (Aug 19-28; marshfieldfair.org).
Have a decadent Arabian Night fantasy and pretend to get a real tattoo while smoking something exotic. It’s just like The Hangover movies except that the body art fades off harmlessly and you won’t have to confess to loved ones any lewd drug-addled acts (well, unless you go somewhere else afterwards and marry a hooker). It’s called the Koullshi Lounge at Tangierino Restaurant and you will also find it outfitted with belly dancers, a subterranean cigar humidor, Bedouin Cave and seven flat screen TVs. Sundays at 8pm, 73 Main Street, Charlestown (617-242-6009, tangierino.com)
Wilco Solid Sound at Fest Mass MoCA
If you’ve considered going to Mass MoCA but thought there wouldn’t be enough to see, this festival should put your fears to rest. Members of Wilco have combined their various interests and connections to come up with a stellar lineup: The Levon Helm Band, Thurston Moore, Neil Finn, as well as comedians Eugene Merman and Morgan Murphy. There’s also the cultural attraction of the spacious and beautiful art museum and of the artsy old mill town itself. $125 for the weekend; Friday $65, Sat $78, Sunday $65; June 24-26 (solidsoundfestival.com)
Stroll Memorial Drive on Sunday
Celebrate your right to thumb your nose at frustrated motorists as you blithely cruise down the double yellow on your in-line skates or sprint down the middle of the street pushing the screaming contents of your baby carriage. Every summer, Cambridge poses the question “Why don’t we do it in the road?” and answers by blocking off Memorial Drive to automobile traffic along the Charles River on Sundays, and so abandoning the highway to pedestrians, bikers, lovers and Frisbee enthusiasts. And every summer reams of distraught motorists forget this fact and pull up to the police barriers fuming audibly, which is all part of the fun, unless it’s you. 11am–7pm through November, Memorial Drive, Cambridge.
You only have to drive forty miles west to go fifty years into the past. This drive-in was opened in 1954 and remains pretty much unchanged. The snack bar looks like that diner scene in Pulp Fiction—jukebox, candy cane striped walls, old fashioned coke machine, booths and period car artifacts—except this is the real deal. While aware of the nostalgia angle, the owners of this theater show all the latest films and just try to provide the best experience they can for their audiences of four wheeled vehicles stuffed with fun-seekers. 35 Milford Street, Mendon. (508-473-4958, mendondrivein.com)
Abbadia Mare Renaissance Faire at Hammond Castle
If you are going to geek out and do the Renaissance fair thing, why not do it at a real castle? The Abbadia Mare festival takes place at Hammond Castle in Gloucester—and yes, it will involve performing fools, harpists, music by The Mortis Family, as well as knights in full armor going at each other with broadswords and a game of chess on the castle’s oceanside lawn featuring actual human volunteers as pieces. This could be you! $20 weekend pass; $12/day; July 23–24; Hammond Castle, 80 Hesperus Ave, Gloucester (abbadiamarefestival.com)
Taste of Cambridge
Celebrate the variety of victuals that Cambridge has to offer at Taste of Cambridge on June 28 from 5:30-8:30pm. Held at the Charles Hotel, the event features tasty nibbles from more than 50 restos like East Coast Grill, Iggy’s Bread of the World, Grafton Street and Upstairs on the Square, as well as beer, wine and live music. Tickets range between $15 for the kiddies and $75 for high-rolling VIPs, and they are tax-deductible because all proceeds benefit The Cambridge Program: Helping Turn Disabilities Into Capabilities and the Salvation Army. $15–$75; June 28; The Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge (tasteofcambridge.com)
See the next big Fest
Right now the biggest names at KahBang Fest (August 5–13; kahbang.com) are probably My Morning Jacket, Lupe Fiasco, Atmosphere and Grace Potter, but this Maine festival is all about finding the next big thing, so send in your music, or film, because you might be it. You can also root root root for the home team, as Boston-area favorites like Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Buffalo Tom and DOM are all on the bill. Also rocking out will be Connecticut’s Gathering of the Vibes Fest, presenting the best in jam-band culture, with big names like Jane’s Addiction, the formerly Dead Bob Weir and Phil Lesh, and nearly dead septuagenarian Wavy Gravy. (July 21-24; gatheringofthevibes.com)
Neighborhood Walking Tours
Explore some of Boston’s best neighborhoods in June with the Boston Center for Adult Education’s Neighborhood Walking Tours series. For just $20, you can sign up for one or more informative, two-hour tours with choices of the Back Bay, Theater and Financial Districts, Beacon Hill and the South End. After you’re done soaking up the fascinating facts about these historical neighborhoods, you’re invited to explore one of the local restos following the tour, including Stephi’s on Tremont, Jacob Wirth, and 21st Amendment. If you stay for dinner, you’ll receive a complementary appetizer. Check out the BCAE website for dates and times and to register. $20; Boston Center for Adult Education (bcae.org)
Summertime Harvest Festivals
Get excited, locavores—summer is the perfect time to celebrate fresh, regional and seasonal goods, and the Boston area has the festivals to prove it. The Boston Public Market Association is sponsoring a handful of events in the Financial District’s Dewey Square highlighting fruits and veggies with contests, demonstrations, raffles, and more: Strawberries (June 16), sweet corn (July 21), and tomatoes (August 18) are the summertime offerings. Plus, Verrill Farm in nearby Concord is also getting in on the fun with interactive festivals of their own: strawberries (June 25) and corn and tomatoes (August 20). These family-friendly events include live music, recipe contests, hayrides, and free samples. Boston Public Market Association (bostonpublicmarket.org); Verrill Farm, 11 Wheeler Road, Concord (978-369-4494, verrillfarm.com)
Cooking classes at the CCAE
Brush up on your skills in the kitchen this summer with your pick of cooking classes from the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. If you want to fine-tune your foundation, you can take Basic Cooking Skills and Techniques, or learn how to wield a blade in Knife and Preparation Skills. You can explore cuisine from other lands with choices like A Culinary Tour of the Mediterranean, Thai Cooking for Beginners, or Classic Spanish Tapas, or you can be the best date ever and suggest a Friday Night Cooking Series class, with spicy choices like Nuevo Latino, Indian Vegetarian Harvest, or Jamaican-style Jerk Barbeque. The Cambridge Center for Adult Education, 42 Brattle Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge (617-547-6789, ccae.org)
Get your fill of Massachusetts music fests
The fests just keep on, uh, festing. Longtime traditional Lowell Folk Fest at press had no names you’ve heard of (unless you’re an aficionado of Stanky and the Coal Miners), but there’s a citywide parade, piles of food and good times (July 29-31; lowellfolkfestival.org). If ever an event needed the Freelance Whales, The New Bedford Summerfest is it, but alas this whaling town’s fare is far more traditional folk than the Newport Fest, with names like Ellis Paul, John Gorka and Cheryl Wheeler on the bill (July 2–3; newbedfordsummerfest.com). Joe’s Jazz and Blue’s Fest is a homegrown Somerville affair, culminating in an all day free concert at Powderhouse Park (June 20–25; somervilleartscouncil.org). If you’re willing to go the distance on Route 2 and travel all the way out to Greenfield, the Green River Fest has the most impressive lineup of all, with performances by Toots and the Maytalls, NRBQ, Kermit Ruffins, Old 97’s, Patty Larkin and more (July 16–17; greenriverfestival.com)
Learn to love the meat-free lifestyle with any of a number of delicious vegan dining experiences this summer. The Elephant Walk’s three locations offer a selection of vegan Cambodian and French dishes; The Otherside Café has tasty vegan treats like the mock chicken salad with pecans and cashews and the veggie burrito; and True Bistro in Teele Square has a multitude of upscale choices, such as the seitan piccata with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and seared rapini or a Vietnamese crepe with honshimeiji mushrooms and fried tofu. Plus, Upstairs on the Square is featuring a Summer Vegan Dinner Series, held June 8 and July 27: For $45 (or $65 with vegan wine pairings), you’ll delight in a four-course menu featuring dishes like minted pea lasagnette and spring minestrone heaped with local veggies.
Great Boston Beer Marathon
Attention, hopheads: on July 16, test out your liver’s prowess at the sixth annual Great Boston Beer Marathon, the self-proclaimed “mother of all pub crawls.” Last year’s crawl boasted 3,000 participants, 26 bars, T-shirts, free food, giveaways and Viking hats, so this year is sure not to disappoint. Stops along the way will include An Tua Nua, The Draft, La Verdad, Tequila Rain and White Horse, to name a (very, very) few, and you can count on free pool and bowling, drink specials, and your very own koozie to keep your booze cozy. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online. Great Boston Beer Marathon (greatbostonexperience.com)
Harbor Islands Art Encampment
Take the ferry to the place where everybody’s a bumpkin: Bumpkin Island! But don’t expect kazoos and skinny bald kids playing banjo, this here is the best in modern art. You will see a wide array of art installations, sculpture, sound, performance and mixed-media, all inspired by the gorgeous Boston Harbor Islands. Shuttles will be leaving directly from Long Wharf. (bostonharborislands.com)
Europe at Mid-Century at the MFA
Travel back to the days when men were men and women were hideous figures with twisted multiple legs, disembodied eyes and triangular faces. Yes, we’re talking about the dynamic re-imaginings of the human body pioneered by the likes of Pablo Picasso, Jean Debuffet and Alberto Giacommetti. This MFA exhibit traces the fragmentation of standard form in the art world, and promises some rare work by the masters. June 25—January 22; The Museum of Fine Art; 465 Huntington Ave, Mission Hill; Boston (617-276-9300; mfa.org)
Here’s the best way to experience the outdoors without losing that secure sense of being indoors: go see an outdoor movie. It’s just like the theater experience except that there are mosquitoes and no plush seating. But hey, it’s free! This summer go to The Hatch Shell on Fridays, (celebrateboston.com/free-friday-flicks.htm) or if the movie is not to your liking, head over to the Boston Harbor Hotel at Rowes Wharf, also showing films on Friday nights (bhh.com). Finally, Films At the Gate will be showing their outdoor Kung Fu extravaganza out near the Chinatown Gate on Hudson Street for four as yet unannounced days in August (filmsatthegate.org).
Tanglewood Backstage Pass Weekends
Seeing the BSO at Tanglewood can be a thrill, and certainly not a cheap one at that. But let’s say you have $600 burning a hole in your wallet. There couldn’t be a better way to blow it than this: you get a hotel room for two, a tour revealing every nook and cranny of the place, you’ll meet musicians, bigwigs and have three days of sumptuous meals. Not to mention languid days in the sun and all the music your ears can take. July 22-24, Aug 5-7. 297 West St, Lennox (413-637-1600, bso.org)
Outdoor Fitness Bootcamp
If you’re serious about getting out into nature and sweating like a pig, but you aren’t quite yet ready to make that possibly foolish commitment to join the Army, fitness bootcamp is the next best thing. Nothing burns off the pounds like intense physical workouts and abject humiliation. Go on, what are you waiting for, wimp? Runs all summer. (ultimatebootcamp.com)
Whim Dinners at Smolak Farms
Smolak Farms in North Andover will be hosting their Whim Dinners on Wednesdays this summer, in which top Boston chefs such as Rebecca Newell of The Beehive and Andy Husbands of Tremont 647 take charge of preparing a three-course dinner for participants. The catch? The menu is a surprise until that day, and the chefs have to cook everything outdoors with only a commercial grill and a roaster. Post-dinner, you and your fellow diners are invited to take a hayride through the pastoral Smolak orchards. Smolak Farms, 315 South Bradford Street, North Andover (smolakfarms.com)
Frozen yogurt… everywhere
Just in time for summer, Boston has become a hotbed of frozen yogurt joints in almost every neighborhood. Pinkberry is swirling up treats in two Back Bay locations and one in Harvard Square, and Tasti D-lite is serving low fat and low-calorie desserts on Newbury Street. Mixx in Allston represents a do-it-yourself shop where you can mix and match your flavors and toppings, and YoBro is another self-serve store opening this summer in Brookline. Boston-based BerryLine may not be new to the scene, but they also offer two locations in Cambridge and one in Fenway. Bottom line: Prepare for the mother of all ice cream headaches this summer.
Vintage Baseball Tournaments on Georges Island
Go back to the beginning, before there was A-Rod, Papelbon or the Red Sox Nation, with the annual Vintage Baseball Tournament on the Boston Harbor Islands. Teams will gather at historic Fort Warren on Georges Island (just a short ferry ride from Boston) to play ball using rules, regulations and uniforms from the Civil War era. The game may look a little different, but you can certainly see where our national pastime came from, though where those terrible pink Red Sox hats come into it is still a mystery. 11am–3:30pm; June 4, 26, July 17 (bostonharborislands.org/georges)
Italian feast and saint festivals in the North End
This summer, head over to the North End to experience a scene straight out of old Italy; the Italian district is host to a number of annual feasts and festivals celebrating Italian saints. The streets will be full of participants and bystanders alike, all watching the confetti fly, the banners sway and the processions make their way through the narrow cobblestone streets. The biggest celebrations are the Fisherman’s Feast of the Madonna on August 12–15 and Saint Anthony’s Feast from August 26–29, where you can expect great food, boisterous crowds and statues covered in dollar bills.
Free outdoor music
What’s better than good music? Good free music! This summer Jazz Boston presents local jazz concerts on Thayer Street in the South End every first Saturday of the month. If orchestral music is more your thing, the Hatch Shell will have free music from the Boston Pops and Landmark’s Orchestra every Wednesday through the end of August, with concerts from Eddie Money and KC & The Sunshine Band sprinkled in for good measure.
Free stargazing at the BU Observatory
Granted, the BU Observatory is open year-round, but it’s much more pleasant to hang out up there for the evening when you can see the stars instead of your breath. Every Wednesday night (weather permitting) Coit Observatory opens up its facilities for public viewings of the stars. The viewing starts at 8:30, lasting about hour, and promises to finally teach you your Andromedas from your Milky Ways. Free, 8:30–9:30pm; Wednesdays, 725 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston (617-353-2630, bu.edu)
Take the T to the beach
Did you know that there are a number of awesome beaches just a short train ride away from Boston? Crane Beach provides a shuttle bus from the commuter rail station throughout the summer, and also boasts some of the best salt marshes around, so you can take in some nature while getting some sun. Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester are all accessible by public transportation. If you’re not content with merely relaxing by the waves, hop on the train to Plum Island, where you can lie on the beach and also explore the quaint seaside town of Newburyport all in one day—just keep an eye on the time so you don’t miss that last train home. (mbta.com)
Catch a free Sox game
Getting a ticket to a Red Sox game may be too expensive or too difficult for many of us. It’s summer, and there are beers to be purchased and kiddie pools to be filled, we get it. Thankfully, the Bleacher Bar comes to our rescue with its giant floor to ceiling window, conveniently located in center field, Fenway Park. Grab a burger, a beer and a seat at the window and feel like you’re a paying customer at the game, while your wallet feels like you’re definitely not. Understandably, seats fill up fast, so make sure to get there early. Bleacher Bar, 82A Lansdowne Street, Fenway, Boston (617-262-2424, bleacherbarboston.com)
Go on a historical landmark walking tour
Boston is filled to the brim with hidden pieces of history, both recent and ancient. The Battle of Bunker Hill, the Boston Tea Party, and the pub they go to in Good Will Hunting are all landmarks that Bostonians pass by every day, but never really see. Walking tours are a great way to remember (or see for the first time) all of the history that surrounds us in this town. The Freedom Trail, Boston’s “Movie Mile” (bostonmovietours.net), and Haunted Boston (hauntedboston.com) are just a few of the options available.
Shop local at the farmers’ markets
One of the best parts about summer is the ease with which you can eat healthily, cheaply and locally. Farmers’ markets are the way to go, both for shopping and for outdoor fun. If you’re looking for cheap produce, locally caught fish, and lots of noise, then Haymarket (open Saturday) is your best bet. The Union Square market in Somerville has a more subdued atmosphere, and more specialty products, along with the ubiquitous bunches of carrots and bags of tomatoes. Medford’s market, located in the Whole Foods parking lot, falls somewhere between the two. Whichever you choose, a day spent wandering the markets is a perfect summertime activity.
See Shakespeare for free on the Common
Enjoy one of Shakespeare’s less tragic and downtrodden plays this summer by checking out the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s production of All’s Well That Ends Well, running July 27–August 30. The company sets up its stage on Boston Common, and you can see costumed players running around and stage hands working their magic by the glow of the State House’s dome. Performances are all free, and are all on the Common, and are perfect for a summertime date night, or for just a relaxing literary night.
The Wizard of Oz at the Boston Children’s Museum
Though this exhibit is at the Children’s Museum, everyone knows that The Wizard of Oz is a decidedly adult movie. In celebration of the film’s 70th anniversary you can follow the yellow brick road, create your own tornado and meet up with all of your favorite (and sometimes terrifying) characters from the film at this collection of all things Oz. Through Sept 10; The Boston Children’s Museum; 308 Congress Street, Fort Point, Boston (617-426-6500, bostonkids.org)
Celebrate the Fourth
Boston is known for its history, so it makes sense that the fourth of July celebrations in this town are pretty spectacular. The yearly fireworks show on the Charles is backed by the sounds of the Boston Pops, but there’s so much more to the celebrations than explosions in the sky. From June 29–July 4, City Hall Plaza hosts Harborfest, an annual celebration of both Boston itself and Independence Day featuring parties, “extreme sailing” and the annual clam chowder cook-off, Chowderfest.
Dance outside with Tango by Moonlight
Every full moon this summer (June 11, July 17 and August 14), the folks at the Tango Society of Boston meet at the Weeks Memorial Footbridge for an evening of tango under the stars. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to tango, or even if you don’t have a partner, each night begins with a short lesson, after which participants dance the night away with the help of the Tango Society’s light-footed instructors. Weeks Footbridge, off of Memorial Drive at Dewolf Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge (bostontango.org)
Boston Restaurant Week
Restaurant week is sort of a misnomer, since this summer it actually includes two weeks worth of restaurant discounts. Even better for Boston foodies, since during these two weeks (August 14–19 and August 21–26) participating Boston restaurants will be offering up two- and three-course meals for a fraction of their cost—that’s $15.11 for a two-course lunch, $20.11 for a three-course or $33.11 for a three-course dinner. This yearly event is your chance to check out the local culinary scene without breaking the bank. (restaurantweekboston.com)