Mild autumn weather makes Boston a joy in June, and it’s also a time of year when a huge number of events take place in and around the city.
Whether it’s exploring the city on foot, or ducking into one of its wide array of cultural and entertainment venues, you’re never far from a top-class event in Boston during June. If you’re planning to visit the famous Massachusetts capital next month and would like to pencil in some great things to do during your stay, here are 12 of the city’s best events due to take place.
Boston Dragon Boat Festival
Since its inaugural edition in 1979 as the first dragon boat festival in North America, this event has gone on to inspire multiple cities across the continent to host their own version. Today the original Boston event has grown to become the largest Asian cultural festival in New England. After a two year hiatus, it returns to the Charles River in 2022, where revellers can once again come and engage in a day of cultural sharing through fun and free activities for all ages. As well as the friendly boat racing on the river, there’s cultural performances such as Dragon and Lion dancing and Taiko drumming, plus arts and crafts stalls, and food vendors serving up delicious Asian cuisine.
Riverbend Park / 11-12 June 2022
‘Napoleon Jones-Henderson: I Am As I Am—A Man’ exhibition
For over 50 years, Napoleon Jones-Henderson has created works that strive to celebrate and empower the communities where he lives. A founding member of the influential African Commune of Bad Relevant Artists (AfriCOBRA), his work translates the collective’s aesthetic principles – to create images inspired by the lived experience and cultures of people of the African diaspora in an accessible graphic style with shining Kool-Aid colours – into woven tapestries, mosaic tile works, shrine-like sculptures, and varied works on paper. Made in close collaboration with the artist, this exhibition draws together a suite of his works in various media down the years, centred around his magisterial woven textiles.
Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston / Through 24 July 2022
ParkARTS Watercolor Painting Workshops
This hugely popular summer series returns in June at a grand total of eight Boston locations, where young visitors can join a local artist for a morning of watercolour painting. Free of charge to take part, the hands-on workshops for budding artists aged 9 and up enable participants to create their own greenspace-inspired masterpieces. Local art instructors welcome artists of all skill levels to join them and capture Boston’s historic parks in bloom. All materials and supplies are provided.
Parks across Boston / Throughout June 2022
With their visions of the future, cult German electropop band Kraftwek are widely credited with having created the soundtrack for the digital age of the 21st century. This June the group come to Boston to perform their acclaimed 3-D concert in front of a packed crown for one night only at the Boch Center Wang Theatre. Bringing together music and performance art, the multi-media show sees them return full circle to their origins within the Düsseldorf art scene of the late Sixties.
Boch Center Wang Theatre / 11 June 2022
Embrace Ideas Festival
A multi-day event spread out across numerous venues throughout the city, this is a yearly celebration of ideas grounded in arts, culture and public scholarship. This year’s event places a special focus on racial equity, healing, wellbeing, and joy, and will bring together local, state and national leaders for keynote talks, panels, and live music, all designed to shine a light on matters of racial justice along with wider democratic values.
The Boston Foundation / 13-17 June 2022
‘Designing Motherhood’ exhibition
Exploring the arc of human reproduction through the lens of art and design, this exhibition demonstrates the evolution of rights and societal norms pertaining to con(tra)ception, pregnancy, birth, and postpartum experiences over the last 150 years, highlighting that birth – and the material culture that surrounds it – impacts every living person. It brings together a constellation of contemporary artists and designers whose work helps us ponder the political, economic, and social implications of how we all relate to reproduction, juxtaposing photography with product design, portraiture with maternity fashion, and more.
MassArt Art Museum / 11 June – 18 December 2022
Annual Boston Harborfest
A summer tradition celebrating Boston’s maritime and revolutionary history, this event takes place over Independence Day week and features hundreds of family-friendly activities. Among them are historical re-enactments, Freedom Trail walks, boat tours led by 18th-century costumed guides, and live music performances. One of the most important parts of the festival each year is a flag-raising ceremony on City Hall Plaza followed by a parade to the Granary Burial Ground, where wreaths are laid on the graves of patriots.
Venues across Boston / 30 June – 4 July 2022
‘All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812’ exhibition
Offering a chance to connect with history, this exhibition is based on decades of research pouring over census records, memoirs, diaries, journals, letters, newspapers, and pension records, chronicling the previously unknown stories of the 1,243 sailors and officers who served aboard USS Constitution during the War of 1812. Visitors are invited to embark on a voyage of discovery, scrubbing the decks, scrambling aloft to furl a sail, eating a meal of salted meat and ship’s biscuit, crawling into a hammock, and meeting your fellow crew – both young and old – who lived aboard the vessel during that historic battle.
USS Constitution Museum / Through 31 December 2022
Jimmy Fund Scooper Bowl
Boston’s enduringly popular ice cream and cancer research fundraising event returns for its 38th edition this June. One of the time-honoured favourite activities for kids in Boston, and equally loved by adults too, visitors flock to City Hall Plaza in the Government Center area of the city to enjoy lavish scoops or indulge in the all-you-can-eat pass. There’s also live music from Boston-based DJs and bands, games, and plenty more, all with the purpose of raising money for an extremely worthy cause.
City Hall Plaza / 18 June 2022
‘Touching Roots: Black Ancestral Legacies in the Americas’ exhibition
For many Black artists working in the Americas, Africa is at once a point of origin and a myriad of associations—real and imagined. In the 20th century, some artists self-consciously responded to writer and philosopher Alain LeRoy Locke’s call to engage with “those ancestral arts”, while others continued to practice African artistic traditions passed down through generations. This exhibition traces narratives of Blackness across the Atlantic world by bringing together work from artists who absorbed and reinterpreted African artistic practices, sacred customs, and cultural expressions. The artworks honour ancestral spirits and Black legacies through painting, sculpture, textiles, and dance.
Museum of Fine Arts / May 2022 – May 2023
Paul McCartney ‘The Got Back’ Tour
The illustrious setting of Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox and one of America’s most beloved ballparks, will play host to iconic singer-songwriter Paul McCartney for two nights this June. Performing his The Got Back Tour, as part of the Plainridge Park Casino Fenway Concert Series, presented by Wasabi, the events will see the former Beatle delight audiences with a wide assortment of songs, including stints on acoustic and electric guitar, piano, ukulele and mandolin.
Fenway Park / 7-8 June 2022
Fire and Water: An Exploration of the Great Fire of Boston
On 9 November 1872, a fire was first noticed in the commercial district of Boston. The blaze that ensued would come to be remembered as “The Great Fire of Boston,” a devastating conflagration that wiped out 776 buildings and resulted in many ruined lives. Featuring high-resolution photos showing the aftermath of the Great Fire, plus various historic artefacts and interactive elements, this exhibition examines how both the Boston Fire Department and Water System struggled to keep up with explosive population growth in 19th-century Boston, showing how each evolved both before and after the fire, and why the infamous event was such a crucial turning point in their development.
Metropolitan Waterworks Museum / 2 June – 1 December 2022
By Paul Joseph