Check the Boston Event Calendar for May 2020 for fun things to do as spring arrives. Boston bursts into bloom, and you'll want to be outside soaking up the sun.
Top May events include the Boston Calling Festival, Mayflower Sails 2020, Chicago: The Musical and Million Dollar Quartet in the theaters, Memorial Day Weekend activities, Mother's Day events, concerts, and art walks.
More big events include Lilac Sunday, the Garden of Flags on the Common, Duckling Day Parade, special Harbor cruises, Beacon Hill's Hidden Gardens tour, and lots of Theatre District shows and performances.
Take advantage of the balmy temperatures to take a Boston Duck Boat tour, catch a Red Sox game at Fenway, sample the city's best Asian food at Boston Night Market, or just relax as you enjoy outdoor patio dining at one of our wonderful restaurants.
See for yourself why May is the perfect month to be in Boston!
Top photo: Tulips blooming in mid-May in Boston's Public Garden
Boston Calling, the popular 3-day indie and pop rock music festival that takes place over Memorial Day Weekend, returns to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston.
Headliners include alt-rockers Twenty One Pilots, rapper Travis Scott, and psychedelic pop-rock group Tame Impala. Other well-known acts included indietronic duo Odesza, rapper/singer-songwriter Logic, funk/R&B singer Janelle Monáe, plus many more bands - about 55 in all. Local groups/musicians include Guster, Pile, Clairo, and Sidney Gish.
On the Comedy and Entertainment slate, look for Michael Che, Fred Armisen, and Jenny Slate headlining the comedy acts, and Boston Ballet and English singer-songwriter Imogen Heap on the entertainment side.
Look for three music stages, a comedy stage, and more music than ever, plus over 30 food vendors, a wide selection of beer and wine, sponsor exhibits, and surprise attractions.
Tickets typically go fast, and prices rise as the dates draw closer. In addition for single-day passes, you'll see options for 3-day passes plus a tiered array of VIP tickets; the most expensive tiers typically sell out the fastest.
Boston Calling 2020 Tickets:
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Memorial Day Weekend Events in Boston
When: Monday, May 25 - Memorial Day 2020
Many Bostonians leave town on Memorial Day - so if you're visiting, you have the best of both worlds: plenty of fun things to do, less competition for tickets (and perhaps lower prices), and smaller crowds.
Memorial Day Weekend events in Boston range from somber ceremonies of remembrance and the Garden of Flags on Boston Common to fun activities embracing summer weather such as the Boston Calling Music Festival, the city's waterfront location, and of course, the Red Sox, home again in time to play the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park on Memorial Day.
Mayflower Sails 2020 is a free 6-day maritime festival celebrating two events: the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Mayflower in 1620, and a debut sail of the Mayflower II, a replica of the original tall ship, after 3 years of restoration at Mystic Seaport Museum by craftspeople using techniques from the 1600s.
Planned events include free tours of the ship, live music, and speakers. After the festival, the ship will sail back to its usual location in Plymouth.
When: May 14-19 Where: Charlestown Navy Yard, following
a debut sail by the restored ship
History "Cheat Sheet": The original Mayflower landed on Cape Cod on November 9, 1620 after a harrowing 66-day voyage across the Atlantic with 102 passengers and almost 40 crew members. About a third of the passengers were Pilgrims, religious dissidents fleeing persecution in England, who established a settlement called "Plimouth Plantation." The Mayflower returned to England in the spring but had been badly damaged during the journey to the New World, and is believed to have been scrapped a few years later. The replica Mayflower II was built in England in 1955-56, and normally can be visited in Plymouth, south of Boston. Visit Plimouth Plantation & tour Plymouth waterfront, with transportation from Boston (a small group tour from Boston is also available)
You'll get to visit historic Nubble Lighthouse in York, Maine, enjoy lunch, shopping, and leisure time in quaint Kennebunkport, admire the well-preserved 18th and 19th century architecture in quaint Kenebunk Village, visit Hampton Beach, and see all the charming villages along the rocky coastline as you cruise along in a luxury climate-controlled coach.
Pickup and dropoff from selected Boston hotels is included.
You can now choose a free Red Sox ticket to select home games at Fenway Park as a bonus when you get a 3, 5, or 7 day GoBoston discount card, starting this month. (Or choose a different bonus: a Boston Duck Tour, the 7-hour "Total Boston Experience" tour including Cambridge, Lexington, and Concord, or a New England Whale Watch cruise.)
With the Red Sox bonus, you'll get a ticket to the Outfield Grandstand, Lower Bleachers, or Standing Room sections of the stadium on a space-available basis. Plus, you also get free VIP access (usually only season ticket holders get this), which lets you enter the ballpark up to 2.5 hours before the game to watch batting practice or explore the Big Concourse.
"The Patios" return to Boston's City Hall Plaza, transforming the area overlooking Faneuil Hall with comfy seating, a beer garden (opens 4pm Monday-Thursday and at noon on Friday-Sunday), a pop-up lemonade and food stand (Monday-Sunday, 11am-7pm), food trucks (Monday-Friday, 11am-3pm and 5-8pm), outdoor meeting spaces for local businesses, a farmers' market (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11:30am-6:30pm), and on Wednesdays (12 noon to 2pm), puppies from a local rescue shelter for a "meet and greet" with prospective adopters. Look for an array of free games such as putt-putt mini-golf holes and other family-oriented activities, plus 4 electric grills on Sundays (11am-9pm), available on a first-come, first-served basis.
When: May 2 - through mid November); Monday-Thursday 11am-9pm, Friday-Saturday 11am-10pm, Sunday 11am-9pm Closest T stations: Green/Blue: Government Center, Orange: Haymarket
Boston's Museum of Science thrills kids and adults alike with its mix of more than 700 interactive permanent exhibits, visiting exhibits, special events, live presentations, planetarium shows, and Imax feature films in New England's most digitally-advanced theater.
Here's just a few of the special things you can do at MOS in May: Visit the butterfly garden, think like an engineer when you do a daily hands-on design/build/test challenge, learn something cool at an investigation station, and watch Cuba, Great Barrier Reef, or Volcanoes: The Fires of Creation in the Imax theater. Catch "Music Under the Dome" in the Planetarium: shows set to the music of Coldplay or Prince. Or watch one of the Planetarium's special shows such as Destination Mars, Magic Tree House: Space Mission, and Wonders of the Night Sky.
Where: Boston's Museum of Science Admission: $28 general museum admission ($23 for kids). Get free museum admission when you have a GoBoston Discount card or Boston CityPASS card. Some visiting exhibits and special events, planetarium shows, and Imax require add-on tickets for an additional fee.
Boston-Area Memorial Day Parade
The largest Memorial Day Parade in the Boston area takes place not in Boston but next door in Somerville - and not on Memorial Day Weekend, but on the Sunday before.
The Somerville Veterans' Memorial Parade parade honors Veterans, active duty military, guard, and reserves, and police, fire fighters, and first responders. The parade kicks off from City Hall at 3pm on Sunday, May 17 and marches along Highland Ave to Davis Square, continues along Holland Street, and ends at the corner of Holland and Broadway.
In case the weather looks iffy, check the City of Somerville's website for any updates, as well as a list of street closures near the route.
Getting there on the T: Red Line/Davis Square
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Harpoon Brewery (306 Northern Ave, South Boston Waterfront) celebrates spring, local music, and local beer with a 2-day beer festival at their brewery featuring a large selection of Harpoon and UFO beers, a brewry tour, handmade brewery pretzels and food from Lucky's Lounge and the Sausage Guyfor purchase, and live music from local bands throughout the weekend.
Dates: Friday, May 18, 5:30 - 11pm (doors close 9:30pm) and Saturday, May 19, 1pm - 7pm (doors close 5:30pm) - rain or shine! (In case of rain, though, don't worry - they have huge tents covering most of their space.)
Cost: $25 cover, paid at door - Includes festival entrance, souvenir pint glass, and first beer. Designated Drivers who register at the Customer Service booth when they arrive get free non-alcoholic beverages.
Getting there: Take the free shuttle from South Station (look for signs on Summer Street) Important to know: Tickets are not sold in advance, and capacity is limited - so arrive early! Age: 21+ More information:Harpoon Brewery website
Revere Beach Kite Festival
Celebrate spring by heading to Revere Beach, America's oldest public beach, on Sunday, May 19 at 11am for the annual kite festival.
Bring your own kite, and watch it soar. You'll see people of all ages flying kites, having a great time, and enjoying this lovely 2-mile long expanse of sun and water.
Don't forget that across from the pavilion, you can get fabulous fried clams or a lobster roll at Kelly's Roast Beef, just a short walk from the Blue Line's Wonderland Station.
Lawn on D, a playground for adults as well as kids located behind the Convention Center in the South Boston Waterfront, is the site of beanbag and other games plus art installations throughout the summer, along with a rotating series of food trucks. Opening Day is May 1st this year.
But even when no special events are underway, the Lawn gives you a perfect place to just chill under the summer sun.
Featured New Hotel for May: Four Season's Hotel One Dalton
One Dalton Street, Boston's Back Bay neighborhood
The opening this month of Four Season Hotel One Dalton Street in Boston's third tallest building brings another 5-star luxury hotel to chic Back Bay. You'll enjoy the excellent location near renowned Newbury Street, top cultural attractions, and Fenway Park - plus the onsite spa, restaurant, and bar, and superb service.
Even though the Boston Theater Marathon, produced by the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, stretches across a weekend filled with full-length play reading, the heart of this part-festival, part-race takes place from noon until 10pm on one special day when 50 New England theater actors, directors, and technicians present 50 new 10-minute plays (out of 400 submissions) produced by 50 New England theaters.
To call this event "lively" is an understatement! In one short 10-hour period, you'll see the wide diversity of Boston theater in this showcase for the local and New England theater community.
When: May 19, noon-10pm (ticket needed), followed by a party Where: Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts at 527 Tremont Street in Boston's South End neighborhood Tickets: $25 in advance, $35 on day of marathon; all net proceeds benefit the non-profit Theatre Community Benevolent Fund to provide financial help for actors in dire need More information: www.bu.edu/bpt/performances/boston-theater-marathon-xvi
SoWa Open Market Opening Day & Sunday Markets
A sea of white, blue, and even a few red tents await you at SoWa, Boston's biggest outdoor art and indie market showcasing artists, artisans, and designers in Boston's South End.
Add in musicians, the SoWa Vintage Market (downstairs at 450 Harrison Ave) Sundays, 10am-4pm all year), and onsite food trucks, and you have the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
Vendors are carefully chosen to avoid duplication - plus the mix of vendors is different every week, so you never know what you'll find.
When: Every Sunday from May 5 through October 26, 10am - 4pm Where: 530 Harrison Ave, Boston's South End Closest T station: Orange Line/Back Bay, or Red Line/Broadway
Free Art and Architecture Tour at BPL
Join one of the Boston Public Library's free tours offered once a day almost every day. You'll see highlights of the library's magnificent Renaissance Revival architecture by Charles Follen McKim and late 20th century building by Philip Johnson. You'll also get to view some of the many works by famous artists throughout the building. Tours last about an hour, and are conducted by trained volunteer guides.
When: Every day in May - and almost every day throughout the year; times vary Where: Meet at Dartmouth Entrance (McKim Building), 700 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Boston Cost: Free Closest T station: Green Line/Copley More information: 617-536-5400; BPL website - click "Central Library/Art & Architecture Tours" on the top menu to get dates and times
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Greenway Open Market
Greenway Open Market, sister market to SoWa Open Market (held Sundays in the South End), brings an eclectic mix of hand-made art, music, and locally produced products to Boston. Look for the sea of white vendor tents - and get ready for some fun shopping, plus good eating at the gourmet food trucks. With a different mix of vendors present each week, you never know what treasures you'll find! It's a quintessential Boston event.
When: Every Saturday and 1st and 3rd Sunday from May through October,
11am - 5pm May, June, Sept, Oct, and 11am-6pm July and August
Where: Rose Kennedy Greenway, near Rings Fountain along the Wharf District parks (look for the Carousel and the vendors' white tents) Nearest T station: Blue Line/Aquarium, or Orange and Green Lines/Haymarket Cost: Free (but of course you'll probably be tempted to buy things
Opening Day for Boston Harbor Islands
When: Saturday, May 16 Where: Long Wharf - North (ferry location) Closest T station: Blue Line/Aquarium Cost: Check Boston Harbor Islands for current ticket costs. You can buy your tickets at Long Wharf ticket booth More information: Park Rangers: 617-223-8666; Harbor Island Express: 617-222-6999
Hop on a ferry at Boston's Long Wharf (near the
Boston Marriott Long Wharf) for a 15 minute cruise to Georges or Spectacle Island. Join a free tour led by the Park Rangers, or enjoy a day of exploring historic sites, photographing birds, enjoying a picnic, hiking, swimming, wading in tidal pools, or simply enjoying the scenery.
Ancient Fishweir Project on Boston Common
When: May 5 through June, with dance and music performances by the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers on Monday, June 1 during school hours Where: Boston Common Cost: Free
Each year, members of the local Wampanoag and Massachusetts Nations collaborate with about 1,000 Boston public school students to build a 150 foot fishweir sculpture on the Common to commemorate those built by local Native people about 5,000 years ago to catch alewife, herring, smelt, and salmon in the tidal flats then covering the area. Remnants of these still exist, buried in layers of clay 28-35 feet under the city's streets.
This temporary fishweir is Boston's only centrally-located historical monument focused exclusively on the Native people who lived here for 12,000 years before the arrival of the Puritans.
If you want to take a look at this temporary memorial, you'll easily find it close to the path running from Charles Street to the baseball field.
The annual spring SoWa Art Walk in Boston's South End gives you the perfect destination for enjoying a Sunday afternoon in May while viewing the creations of emerging and established artists in 200+ working artists studios.
Explore the fascinating artists' studios, and admire the paintings, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics, photography, and more in the South End's SoWa (South of Washington) neighborhood, home to the largest concentration of artists in the city.
When: Saturday May 4, and Sunday, May 5pm, 11am-5pm Where: Participating locations include 450 and 460 Harrison Ave in Boston's South End Closest T station: Orange Line/Back Bay; or Red Line/Broadway Parking: Look for signs Cost: Free
Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Special Tour
Once a year on the third Thursday in May, a dozen or so Beacon Hill Garden Club members open their gardens to the public for a special Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill self-guided tour. Celebrate spring by spending a day exploring Boston's secret gardens.
When: Thursday, May 16, 9am - 5pm, rain or shine Where: Beacon Hill; hostess booths will be at the corners of Charles and Mt. Vernon, and Charles and Chestnut Streets Closest T stations: Green and Red Lines/Park Cost: $50 advance reservations (see website for deadline), $60 day of the event More information: website
Where to Go for Mother's Day Brunch in Boston - May 10, 2020
Show your appreciation for all those tasty meals your mom cooked for you, and take her out for Mother's Day Brunch at one of these Boston restaurants offering a special menu for the occasion.
Make hotel reservations for Mothers Day weekend for a memorable celebration.
- Beacon Hill Bistro - Enjoy a special 3-course prix fixe brunch from 10am-4pm in this award-winning Beacon Hill restaurant at the Beacon Hill Hotel. 25 Charles Street; 617-723-7575
- Scampo - Try famed Chef Lydia Shire's special Mother's Day a la carte creations on the lunch and dinner menu at this wonderful Italian restaurant in the Liberty Hotel. 215 Charles Street, Boston's West End; 617-536-2100
- Top of the Hub - Choose from a special brunch (11am - 3pm) or dinner (3:30pm - 9pm) and enjoy the spectacular 52nd floor views. 800 Boylston Street, Back Bay, 617-536-1775; adjacent to Hilton Back Bay and Sheraton Boston
- North 26 - Special Mother's Day Brunch menu (12 noon-3:30pm). 26 North Street at the Bostonian Boston Hotel; 617-557-3640
Forgot to make reservations? Take your mom for Dim Sum in Boston's Chinatown - but pretend that's what you were planning all along.
Duckling Day Parade
When: Mother's Day Sunday, May 10 - parade begins at 12 noon Where: Boston Common and the Public Garden - Preregister at 10am on Boston Common at the Parkman Bandstand; enjoy entertainment until the parade starts
Cost: $35 ($40 on day of event) donation per family, which includes snacks, entertainment, and special goodie bag for each child More info
For the perfect Mother's Day celebration, join Boston's annual Duckling Day Parade with your young children - and be sure to bring your camera!
You'll retrace the path taken by Mr. and Mrs. Mallard and their own flock of 8 young ducklings in Robert McCloskey's beloved children's book, Make Way for Ducklings. To really get into the spirit, dress your offspring in yellow to resemble their favorite Ducklings characters, and decorate your stroller or even a wagon. (Need cute duckling outfits? Here's our favorite selection on Amazon.)
Show your mom your love and a good time by treating her to a special Mother's Day Brunch, Lunch, or Dinner Cruise on the luxurious Odyssey or Spirit of Boston.
Enjoy the gourmet cuisine, feel pampered by the attentive service, and try out the great dance floor if you chose a dinner cruise.
Or just relax on the deck, enjoying the best views of Boston.
Lunch, Brunch, & Dinner Cruises:
Lilac Sunday - Mother's Day Event
The Arnold Arboretum's large lilac collection bursts into glorious bloom in May, putting on an exuberant show of color and intoxicating fragrance just in time for Mother's Day. Visit on Lilac Sunday to enjoy family-oriented activities in honor of Mother's Day - or come any time during early-to-mid-May to experience the unforgettable scent of these gorgeous lilacs.
Lilac Sunday is the only day of the year when the Arboretum allows picnics - so take advantage by bringing a tasty brunch or lunch and perhaps a blanket for sitting.
When: May 10; lilac tours and family activities from 10am - 3pm; Arboretum open from dawn to dusk Where: Arnold Arboretum, 125 Arborway, Jamaica Way, Boston Closest T station: Orange Line/Forest Hills; follow the signs to the Arboretum, about a 10 minute walk Parking: Street-side parking spaces are always quite limited so don't count on finding any available on Lilac Sunday - take public transportation! Cost: Free More information: 617-524-1718; Arnold Arboretum website
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