Kids’ Weekend in the Berkshires

BOSTON SUMMER 2018: Open Air Performances in and around Boston

4th of July  “officially” starts a busy summer of concerts and performances within 1-2 hour drive from Boston.  Here is my best of summer Open Air Events in and around Boston (many are free to the public).

1.  Harborwalk Sounds  series brings the city’s most talented young musicians and dancers to Boston waterfront for Institute of Contemporary Art’s  (ICA) Free Thursday Nights: all July and August (in partnership with Berklee School of Music).  The concerts start at 6:30pm and you can check the summer line-up here.  This is a great way to spend a summer night in the city, especially if combined with a free ICU entrance (5-9pm every Thursday)!  We have not had a chance to visit the event, but hoping to do so this summer.

2. Berklee Summer in the City Concert Series

Numerous free musical performances  are offered throughout the Greater Boston area from May through September as part of the Summer in the City concert series.  Here is a listing of all events .  Enjoy world-class performances while visiting favorite Boston destinations, including Atlantic Wharf, Boston Harbor Islands and Boston Common Park.

Boston waterfront

3. Shakespeare in the Park

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company continues its Boston summer tradition of Free Shakespeare On The Common (in its 23rd season this year) with “Richard III at Parkman Bandstand in Boston Common.

FREE fully-staged productions are Tuesday-Saturday at 8pm, Sundays at 7pm; July 18-August 5th. More information about this program here.

Another outdoor Shakespeare summer production – Love’s Labor’s Lost – is happening this summer July 10-August 18 at the Mount (writer Edith Wharton’s estate in the Berkshires).  This family friendly event is staged by Shakespeare and Company Theater of Lenox, MA (tickets are $10-15, more info here).

Our 2015 Year of Weekend Celebrations in Pictures
Gardens of the Mount, Estate of Writer Edith Wharton

4. WaterFires in Providence, RI

You have to cross the border into Rhode Island (Providence) for this one and it is a different type of performance– but it is well worth it.  The lighting occurs shortly after sunset and the braziers remain lit until half past midnight. Here is summer 2018  SCHEDULE of full and partial lightings.  FULL installations light up 80+ braziers from Waterplace Park to Memorial/South Main Street Park – and the next full show is on July 14.  Note that fire marshal’s regulations do not permit folding chairs to be set up on any of the river walks (for safe passage of all the visitors) – so prepare to stroll.

WaterFire Providence

5.  Tanglewood Music Festival in the Berkshires

Our family’s summer is not complete without attending a concert at Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox (Massachusetts Berkshires).  Tanglewood is summer home of Boston Symphony and Boston Pops Orchestras, as well as  numerous guest performers of various musical genres.  Read our post about Tanglewood for families here highlighting special family experiences throughout the summer.   Tanglewood is approximately a 2-hour drive of Boston, so day trips are possible.  Lawn tickets start at $10 (free for kids under 17).  HERE is a link to a full summer 2018 program.

Family Summer Fun around Boston
Vi and friend Sasha at a Tanglewood concert last summer

6. Free Summer Dance Performances at Jacobs Pillow (Becket, MA)

If you are planning your visit to the Berkshires for longer than a day, be sure to visit Jacobs Pillow – national historical landmark and a site of America’s longest-running international dance festival.   The festival not only brings world’s leading dance companies to the Berkshires every summer, but offers free  outdoor performances via its Inside/Out Series  on Wednesdays-Saturdays during the Festival.  Be sure to check out the grounds tours and pre-show talks.


7 Ways to Enjoy Summer in Massachusetts and Rhode Island off the beach
Inside/Out Performance at Jacobs Pillow a couple of summers ago

7. Family Beach Concerts at Easton Beach, Newport, RI

There is nothing wrong with spending your summer at the beach, but it is even more fun when you could enjoy a family concert at the end of your day in the sun.  One of my favorite beaches within a driving distance from Boston, Newport‘s Easton Beach offers Family Night Concert Series on Tuesdays at 6 and Thursday night Children’s programming. Check out this summer’s schedule HERE.  (Free carousel rides are a big draw during these special family programs.)

Easton Beach  is located at the end of the world famous cliff walk with its beautiful ocean vistas and access to historical Newport Mansions.

8.  Thursday Concert Series at Crane Estate in Ipswich, MA

The Crane Estate (in the care of the Trustees of Reservations) is celebrating 22 years of Picnic Concerts this summer. They invite you to bring a picnic supper, explore the grounds, dance on the lawn, and experience some of the region’s best bands.  The season begins on July 5 with Jambalaya Horns—New Orleans Street Jazz.  Here is the entire concert schedule (and ticket prices) for summer 2018.

Crane Estate, Ipswich
Crane Estate, Ipswich

More Events:

Newport Music Festival celebrates its 50th Anniversary Season from July 4 through July 22, 2018 with 42 concerts and events showcasing Grammy winners and nominees, acclaimed international artists, and beloved resident artists.

Attending a Museum on a Friday- for FREENumerous Massachusetts Museums open their doors for FREE on each Friday in the summer (a project by Highland Street Foundation) June 29-August 29.

What is your favorite summer outdoor event in and around Boston?




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