Where to find free outdoor music in Boston this summer




Things to Do

Enjoy free, live performances June through August.

The Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park concert series in Franklin Park. Courtesy of the Franklin Park Coalition

With summer in Boston comes a few glorious months of soaking up the warmer weather before it cools down again. While the city has no shortage of ways to spend time outdoors during the warm months, one of the easiest (and cheapest) ways is by finding free outdoor concerts — and there are plenty.

Below, read up on some of the best ways to listen to free live music this summer, from orchestral music at the Hatch Shell to jazz on the Greenway to the Boston Harbor Hotel’s Summer in the City Series.

June 5 — August 30

The Boston Public Library’s central location brings Concerts in the Courtyard back this summer, kicking off on June 5 and running through August 30. The series features local musicians performing a range of genres in the library’s central courtyard on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. and Fridays at 12:30 p.m. (except for June 19 and July 3). 

June 6 — August 29

Summer in the City returns to Boston Harbor Hotel this summer, beginning June 6. The series features live music performed from a floating stage and al fresco diners at the Rowes Wharf Sea Grille have front row seats to the program. Guests can enjoy a different style of music on the waterfront weekly Tuesday through Friday, including jazz, soul, country, and R&B.

June 15 — August 21

The Boston Landmarks Orchestra brings back its free concerts this summer, kicking off with a Juneteenth celebration on June 15. The rest of the season features orchestra shows at the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade, including “Gershwin & Williams” on the evening of Wednesday, July 24, and Mozart on the evening of Wednesday, August 14.

June 20 — August 15

Cambridge Crossing brings back its CX Summer Nights on the third Thursday of the month in June, July, and August. The evenings run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and feature live music (two bands each night) along with food trucks, lawn games, and local brews. Furthermore, each night raises funds for a different Cambridge nonprofit.

July 8 — August 7

The Boston Parks and Rec Department brings back its series of free concerts in parks around town this summer, presented by Bank of America. The series kicks off July 8 at McConnell Park in Dorchester, finishes August 7 at Lee Playground in Southie, and also includes free concerts in Allston/Brighton, the South End, West Roxbury, Roslindale, and Mattapan.

July 9 — August 13

Every Tuesday night from July 9 through August 13, the Franklin Park Coalition hosts its Elma Lewis Playhouse in the Park concert series in Franklin Park. Each concert starts at 6 p.m. and features a different style of music along with Lady Emcee. Guests can expect food and craft vendors and are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets. If any of the performances are rained out, the rain date is August 20.

July 11 — August 8

The North End Music & Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC) brings back its Jazz in the Park series this summer on Thursdays from July 11 through August 8. Shows take place on the Greenway near the Canopy by Hilton from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and each concert features a different artist.

August 30 — 31

The 14th annual Boston Jazz Fest returns this August, bringing live jazz music to Maritime Park in the Seaport on Friday, August 30 from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, August 31 from noon to 10 p.m. The festival is donation based, features a musically diverse array of jazz artists, and is presented by Boss-Ten Productions and Larry J’s BBQ.

Looking for even more free live music? Then check out one (or several) of the many porchfests happening across Massachusetts this summer.





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