If you’re visiting Boston this August and want to know what’s going on in the city during your stay, be prepared to be spoilt for choice.
The Massachusetts capital is brimming with great things to see and do throughout the year, but is arguably at its most vibrant and bustling during the summer months. From exhibitions and concerts to food festivals and immersive cultural celebrations, there’s something happening in Boston to satisfy every predilection. To help you plan your trip, we’ve picked out 10 of the best Boston events running through August 2023.
Boston Jazz Fest
Now in its 13th year, the annual Boston Jazz Festival returns to Maritime Park this August, once again featuring diverse performances by some of the best Jazz musicians in the business. Paying special homage to the genre’s African American roots, the event draws together many of the most innovative contemporary jazz artists from around the globe in a weekend of musical brotherhood. Notable names on the line-up this year include award-winning singer Pat Braxton, whose repertoire includes a tribute to the great Billie Holiday. Festival-goers are also encouraged to bring CDS and memorabilia to be signed by some of the performing artists during a special autograph session.
Maritime Park, Boston’s Seaport District / 25-26 August 2023
Dating all the way back to 1910, this hugely popular annual Italian festival is held throughout the streets of Boston’s North End district to celebrate the devotion of immigrant Sicilian fishermen to the Madonna del Soccorso di Sciacca (Our Lady of Help). This year will see the usual enticing selection of entertainment, food and traditional parades, including a religious procession through the district’s narrow streets carrying a statue of the Madonna, street vendors, and the not-to-be missed, hotly-contested Sorrento Cheese tower building competition. The festival is free to enter for all-comers.
Throughout Boston’s North End / 17-20 August 2023
Shakespeare on the Boston Common
Outdoor festivals featuring productions of William Shakespeare plays have gained great popularity in recent years – and Boston’s contribution to this cultural trend returns this July and August. Organised by the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Shakespeare on the Boston Common is expected to see upwards of 50,000 people flock to the urban park across several magical evenings of Macbeth plays, performed on stage above a grassy slope. Bring a blanket or low-folding chair and get ready to be entertained, to have your thinking challenged, and to listen to the thrilling language of Shakespeare, as meaningful today as when he wrote his plays four centuries ago.
Boston Common / Through August 2023
African Festival of Boston
Featuring the sights and sounds of Africa, the African Festival of Boston was set up 13 years ago with the purpose of strengthening the voice of the African Diaspora residing in New England. Taking place in the heart of Boston City Hall Plaza, the event provides a platform for purveyors of African music, food, art, and fashion, with live performances and a huge assortment of vendors showcasing their wares. Other highlights include African-style face painting, health and wellness, children’s activities, and plenty more. Entrance to the festival is free of charge.
Boston Common Park / 19-20 August 2023
‘In Search of Thoreau’s Flowers: An Exploration of Change and Loss’ exhibition
Influential American naturalist Henry David Thoreau was prolific in his practice of collecting and preserving botanical samples. Long preserved in the Harvard University Herbaria, 648 specimens serve as the foundation of this immersive multidisciplinary exhibition at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, which marries art and science through a modern artistic interpretation of Thoreau’s well-maintained plants. In doing so, it invites visitors to experience emotionally resonant connections to the profound loss of natural diversity that many believe has been caused by human-induced climate change.
The Harvard Museum of Natural History / Through November 2023
Boston Annual Ukrainian Festival
It continues to be an incredibly traumatic time for Ukrainian nationals across the world as war ravages their home country. This festival, which celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Ukraine, will provide some much-needed cheer for Boston’s Ukrainian community, featuring a wide range of performances, exhibitions, crafts, vendors and events. Drawing over 3,000 visitors each year, the programme includes a number of authentic cultural performances, including classical and folk music, traditional Ukrainian folk dances, and more. The festival will also serve as a platform to support fundraising efforts for Ukraine’s ongoing struggle for freedom and democracy.
BU Beach, Boston University / 26 August 2023
‘Matthew Wong: The Realm of Appearances’ exhibition
Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts plays host to a huge number of permanent and temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Running through August and into next winter, this exhibition showcases works by the late Canadian artist Matthew Wong, who achieved critical acclaim during his short career, which spanned just six years, between 2013 and his death in 2019 at the age of just 35. In that time, he created a visual language uniquely his own, becoming known for vibrant and psychologically charged landscape paintings in a wide range of styles. From rarely seen early works to iconic later paintings, the artist’s incredible talent is on full display in what is the first museum retrospective devoted to the artist.
Museum of Fine Arts / Through 18 February 2023
Boston Green Fest
Created with a mission of educating and empowering people to create a more sustainable, healthier world, this long-running environmental music festival has been a staple of Boston’s summer season for over 15 years now. As well as featuring a packed programme of live musical performances, there are also a wide range of businesses, non-profits, neighbourhood associations, and academic institutions on hand showcasing a variety of sustainable products, foods, fashions, and design and architectural innovations.
Boston City Hall Plaza, Sam Adams Park & Faneuil Hall / 11-13 August 2023
August Moon Festival
Boston’s Chinatown district is busy preparing for the 2023 edition of the August Moon Festival – a day-long event packed full of cultural performances including lion dancing, Chinese music and singing, traditional folk dance, and martial arts, as well as Chinese calligraphy, arts and crafts, and vendors selling traditional Chinese delicacies and dishes such as Mooncakes, a round dessert typically filled with lotus paste and an egg yolk. Now in its 53rd year, the festival not only celebrates an important Chinese holiday (also known as the Harvest Festival, a time of thanks for the harvest and good crops) but also serves to educate people on Chinese culture.
Coddington Street, Quincy Center / 20 August 2023
‘Natalie Jeremijenko: The Declaration of Independence’ exhibition
With its fabric scrim serving as an outdoor canvas, The Anne H. Fitzpatrick Façade at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum has been dedicated to rotating newly-commissioned works for over a decade. Running through October 2023, and part of the museum’s Artist-in-Residence program featuring works by contemporary artists who practice with living plant material, this exhibition focusses on Australian environmentalist and artist Natalie Jeremijenko, who uses her public platform to advocate for environmental health, biodiversity, and the role of the natural world in human neurological development. As part of the exhibition, an eye-catching installation presents flowering nasturtiums within a wider web of interspecies interdependencies found in the urban ecology surrounding the museum.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum / Through 10 October 2023
By Paul Joseph