Check the Boston Event Calendar for May 2016 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 Duckling Day Parade, Mother's Day, free concerts, art walks, and the Boston Theatre Marathon.
More big events during May 2016 include Lilac Sunday, special Harbor cruises, Greenway Open Markets, the Return of the Swans, 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, catch a Red Sox game at Fenway, 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!
Please note: Most events on this page are for last year, but 2016 events should be similar. Updates will be made closer to May when details become available.
When: Monday, May 30 - Memorial Day 2016
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, and smaller crowds.
Memorial Day events in Boston range from somber ceremonies of remembrance and the Garden of Flags on Boston Common to fun activities embracing summer weather, the city's waterfront location, and of course, the Red Sox, home again and playing at Fenway Park throughout Memorial Day weekend.
Half-Price Tickets - Shows, Concerts, Sports, Cruises, & Tours during May
Why pay full price? Check Goldstar's listings for half-price Boston tickets for May - it's an easy way to save!
- Boston Cupcake Crawl in Back
Bay, South End, Boston Common
- Comic Con at DCU Center in Worcester - Comp & discount tickets
- Laugh Fest: Summer Kick Off Party - Davis Square Theatre, Somerville
- Trapped in a Room with a Zombie @ Room Escape Adventures, Somerville
- Boston Duck Tours from Museum of Science
- Back Bay Chocolate Walking Tour
- Odyssey Cruises Lunch, Brunch, & Dinner Cruises - Boston Harbor
- Live Music @ Scullers Jazz Club in Boston
- Sh*t-Faced Shakespeare @ Davis Square Theatre
- Boston Breakers Women's Professional Soccer (Comp tickets) @ Soldiers Field Stadium at Harvard
- Blue Man Group @ Charles Playhouse - Ongoing
- Shear Madness at the Charles Playhouse
Red Sox Ticket Bonus - 2015
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.
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.
Get your GoBoston discount card now - and choose your exciting bonus when you get a 3, 5, or 7 day card
Fun Sightseeing Tours of Boston
Harbor & River Cruises - Discount & Half-Price Tickets for May 2015
The best way to tour Boston! Save with Goldstar's listings for discount and half-price Boston Harbor & Charles River cruises - why pay more?
- Boston Harbor Lighthouse Brunch Cruise
- 2-hour Harbor Island Cruise - Boston Harbor
- Tall Ship Adirondack III - Day sail around Boston Harbor
- Charles River & Locks Cruise
- Odyssey Cruises Lunch, Brunch, & Dinner Cruises - Boston Harbor
- Provincetown Fast Ferry
- Sunset Harbor Cruise
- Boston Harbor Islands Picnic Sail on Tall Ship Adirondack III
- Boston Harbor Cruise - enjoy views of USS Constitution, Bunker Hill, more
- Boston Duck Tours from Museum of Science
- Summer Party Cruise on the MV Provincetown II
- Romantic Sunset Sail on the Adirondack III
- Boston City Lights Boston Harbor Sail on a classic schooner; passes by USS Constitution
Most of these cruises are available through early fall, and may have black-out dates around Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day. Some (especially those involving food) require advance reservations, so check details carefully.
Boston Calling, the 3-day music festival that attracts sell-out crowds, returns to City Hall Plaza (dates for 2016 to be confirmed)
Several national headliners join approximately 20 additional groups to bring non-stop live performances to the heart of Boston from 6pm-11pm on Friday, and noon-11pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Look for 2 stages, 2 beer gardens, lots of food trucks, and loads of fun! This is a family-friendly event with all ages welcome; kids under 10 attend free. September can be hot and sunny - so bring a sunscreen, comfortable shoes, hat, and sealed plastic water bottles (no glass).
Boston Calling also takes place in early fall - check the September events calendar for details.
Nearest T Stations: Orange Line/Haymarket or State; Green Line: Haymarket; Blue Line: State; Red Line/Park
MFA: Memorial Day Open House - Free Admission
When: Monday, May 25 - Memorial Day Weekend 2015
MFA will celebrate Latin American culture in its "Season of Color in the Americas" festivities this year with special exhibitions and free admission on Memorial Day.
This fun family event takes place in the Shapiro Family Courtyard where you can make art, make music, watch a film, and join tours and discussions in the art galleries.
Duckling Day Parade - 2016
When: Mother's Day Sunday, May 8 - parade begins at 12 noon (time to be confirmed)
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 a small duckie toy for each child
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. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh will be there to welcome your young ducklings - and massage therapists will be on hand to offer free mini-massages to honor the moms.
For a special Mother's Day weekend, stay in a hotel overlooking the Public Garden. Here are 4 with spectacular views to consider:
Hotels with Public Garden & Boston Common ViewsFind out more about these spectacular hotels
Boston Concerts & Shows - Tickets
- 2Cellos - Berklee Performance Center - May 1
- Of Monsters & Men - Orpheum - May 8
- The Pops Play the Beatles - Boston Symphony Hall - May 13, 14
- Crosby, Stills, & Nash - Wang Theatre - May 19
- Boston Calling Music Festival - Single Tickets or 3-Day Pass - Boston City Hall Plaza - May 22-24
- The Script - House of Blues - May 26
- Get the Led Out Tribute Band - Wilbur Theatre - May 30
- Ray Lamontagne - Blue Hills Bank Pavilion - May 31
Tickets:TicketLiquidator | AceTicket | Goldstar - Half-Price Tickets
May Red Sox Schedule for Fenway Park
- Friday, May 1 vs Yankees - 7:10pm
- Saturday, May 2 vs Yankees - TBD
- Sunday, May 3 vs Yankees - TBD
- Monday, May 4 vs Rays - 7:10pm
- Tuesday, May 5 vs Rays - 7:10pm
- Wednesday, May 6 vs Rays - 7:10pm
- Tuesday, May 19 vs Rangers - 7:10pm
- Wednesday, May 20 vs Rangers - 7:10pm
- Thursday, May 21 vs Rangers - 7:10pm
- Friday, May 22 vs Angels - 7:10pm
- Saturday, May 23 vs Angels - 7:10pm
- Sunday, May 24 vs Angels - TBD
Hotels near Red Sox Games in Fenway ParkFind more hotels near Fenway Park
Mother's Day Events in Boston
Mother's Day 2016 is on Sunday, May 8. Quick links to top Mother's Day events:
- Duckling Day Parade
- Lilac Sunday
- Where to Go for Mother's Day Brunch
- SoWa Open Market
- Fort Point Art Walk
- Waltham Symphony Orchestra Mother's Day Concert
- Theatre and Shows
May at the Boston Museum of Science
Three exciting temporary exhibits make May a great time to visit Boston's Museum of Science.
Take in the colorful Photography of Modern Cuisine to see food in a new way. Animals without Passports lets you follow humpback whales as they migrate from Massachusetts to the Caribbean. And Colossal Fossil: Triceratops Cliff gives you a close-up view of a 65 million year old fossil from the Dakota Badlands, discovered only in 2004.
Get free admission to the Museum of Science with your Go Boston Card - and get free admission to 50 other top attractions as well. With a 3, 5, or 7 day pass, choose a free bonus - a Boston Red Sox Ticket, a Gray Line Boston Tour, a Duck Tour, or an exciting Whale Watch.
Mother's Day Brunch & Dinner Cruises
Show your mom your love and a good time by treating her to a special Mother's Day Brunch or Dinner Cruise on the luxurious Odyssey.
Enjoy the gourmet cuisine, feel pampered by the attentive service, and try out the great dance floor. Or just relax on the deck, enjoying the best views of Boston.
More about Mother's Day cruises: http://www.odysseycruises.com/Boston/mothers-day
Odyssey cruise discount tickets from Goldstar (not on Mother's Day - but you could take your mom on a different day)
Revere Beach Kite Festival
Celebrate spring by heading to Revere Beach, America's oldest public beach, on Sunday, May 17 at 11am for the annual kite festival. The first 300 kids under the age of 12 to arrive can build their own kite.
If you don't want to get up that early or don't qualify for a free kite based on your age, bring your own. You'll see plenty of 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.
Street Performers Audition at Faneuil Marketplace
Do you love watching the street performers entertain crowds at Faneuil Marketplace on Boston's Freedom Trail?
On Sunday, May 3 from 11am to 3pm at the West End and South Market buildings, you can get a sneak preview of the new season's best acts.
Come watch top mimes, acrobats, contortionists, and musicians as they compete for a spot on the Street Performer's roster ... and you may even have the chance to perform with them at this free and fun May event.
Greenway Open Market - 2015
When: Opening day: Saturday, May 2, 11am - 5pm; held every Saturday through October 10, 2015; 11am-5pm May, June, Aug, Sept, and Oct; 11am-6pm July
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
Greenway Open Market, sister market to SoWa Open Market (held Sundays in the South End), brings an eclectic mix of crafts, 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.
Where to Go for Mother's Day Brunch in Boston - May 8, 2016
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.
- Brasserie Jo - Look for Mother's Day Specials on the a la carte menu. 120 Huntington Ave at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston's Back Bay
- 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. $39/person; 25 Charles Street; 617-723-7575
- Pastoral - Chef/Owner Todd Winer offers a 3-course Mother's Day brunch starring a mouth-watering lobster and prosciutto cotto pizza starting at 11:30am. $41/person; a la carte options also available; 345 Congress Street, Boston's Fort Point neighborhood; 617-345-0005; stay nearby at the Seaport Residence Inn at 370 Congress Street
- 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
- L'Espalier - Enjoy the fabulous 3 course brunch in this top French restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. $85/person. 774 Boylston St, Back Bay; 617-262-3023
- Top of the Hub - Choose from a special brunch (11am - 3pm) or dinner (3:30pm - 9pm) and enjoy the spectacular 52nd floor views. $68/person; $29 for children 3-11; complimentary for children under 3. 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). A la carte or 3-course prix-fixe $42/person; $12/children 7-12; complimentary for children 6 and under. 26 North Street at the Millennium Bostonian Hotel; 617-557-3640
Forgot to make reservations? Go for Dim Sum in Boston's Chinatown - but pretend that's what you were planning all along
Not sure where to find all these Boston restaurants? Our Boston sightseeing map will help orient you:
Need a more details? Here are our favorite free and low-cost Boston maps.
Boston Theater Marathon XVII
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 9 (free warm-up laps featuring 3 staged readings) and May 10, noon-10pm (ticket needed)
Where: Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts at 527 Tremont Street in Boston's South End neighborhood
Cost: Tickets required for May 10; $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: 617-353-5443
Boston Theater & Shows for May
Don Giovanni - Boston Lyric Opera
Shubert Theatre - May 1-10
Love can be difficult. Come see Don Giovanni for a night of comedy, seduction, jealousy, and death, while listening to some of the best music composed one of the best musicians of all time.
More Shows in Boston in May 2015
- Dirty Dancing - Colonial Theatre - Through May 10
- Sesame Street Live: Make a New Friend - Orpheum Theatre - May 2-3
- Nashville Live in Concert - Wang Center - May 2
- Sufjan Stevens - Wang Center - May 4
- Faith No More - Orpheum Theatre - May 22
- In the Mood - Colonial Theatre - May 12-24
- Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet - Shubert Theatre - May 15-17
- Crosby, Stills & Nash - Wang Center - May 19
- Commonwealth Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet - Strand Theatre, Dorchester - May 21-30 - Ticket information: http://commshakes.org
Boston Theatre District Hotels
SoWa First Fridays - 2016
On May 6 as well as on other SoWa First Fridays in Boston's art-filled South End, over 60 galleries south of Washington Street and at the Artist's Guild at 450 Harrison Ave, and nearby businesses and restaurants open their doors from 5pm to 9pm to give you a chance to experience the vibrant South End arts community.
Start at 450 Harrison, and just follow the gallery lights and signs as you stroll around the neighborhood. Wrap up your evening at one of the South End's renowned restaurants.
Taste of the North End
Taste of the North End on May 1, 7pm-11pm gives you a great chance to sample special dishes from 40 North End restaurants and bakeries in this annual tasting event.
This is also the North End's biggest fundraiser - proceeds benefit the North End Community Health Center, schools, and recreation centers providing services to neighborhood children and seniors.
The list of participating restaurants is too long to name . . . but just to whet your appetite, look for treats from Fiore, Mamma Maria, Bricco, Taranta, Artu, Lucca, Massimino, Neptune Oyster, and Modern Pastry, as well as liquid refreshments from a number of neighborhood wine importers.
With panoramic waterfront views to enjoy from the Steriti Rink, this is sure to be a spectacular evening.
Where: Steriti Memorial Ice Rink, 561 Commercial Street, North End, Boston
Tickets: $79 (plus service fee)
Nearest T: Orange and Green Lines/North Station
More info: Taste of the North End Website
Boston Discount Cards for Attractions, Tours, Cruises
Best way to save in Boston. Save 50% or more when you take a Boston Harbor cruise or Duck Boat tour, visit Plimouth Plantation, the New England Aquarium, Museum of Science, Prudential Skywalk Observatory, Museum of Fine Arts, Fenway Park Tour, and more. Compare to find out which one is best for you.
SoWa Open Market Opening Day - 2016
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 South End Farmers Market, food trucks, and South End Arts Market (at the end of Thayer Street), 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.
More information: What to shop for at SoWa Open Markets
When: Sunday, May 1, 10am - 4pm, and then every Sunday afternoon until the end of October (can't make it on Sunday? head over to the Greenway Open Market on Saturdays)
Where: 460 Harrison Ave, Boston's South End
Closest T station: Orange Line/Back Bay, or Silverline bus
Parking: Look for signs to free parking
Wampanoag Dance, Song, Stories at Peabody Museum
Want to learn more about Boston's inhabitants when the Puritans arrived in 1620?
Harvard's Peabody Museum's special "Wampanoag Dance, Song, and Stories" event on May 16 (date to be confirmed for 2015), noon - 4pm, features Annawon Weeden, member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Nation and traditional dance, music, and storytelling.
Kids even get to make "action figures" out of corn husks.
Free with Peabody Museum admission. More information: 617-495-3216
Fort Point Open Studios - 2015
Twice a year, 75 Fort Point artists open their studios to the public in this former warehouse district now housing one of New England's largest art communities. During the Spring Art Walk and Open Studios, you'll see paintings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, jewelry, ceramics, and more. Talk with the artists, admire the art, and purchase something wonderful for your home or office directly from the artist. Or come on Sunday, Mother's Day, with your mom and buy her a unique Mother's Day gift.
When: Friday, May 15, 4pm-7pm; Saturday and Sunday, May 16 and 17, 12 noon - 5pm
Where: Fort Point area of South Boston Waterfront, across Fort Point Channel from South Station in Downtown Boston
Nearest T: Red Line/South Station; walk across Fort Point Channel over the Summer Street or Congress Street Bridge
Parking: Free (for event only) in large lot across from 249 A Street (enter on Binford Street)
Next Fort Point ArtWalk: October
Opening Day for Boston Harbor Islands
When: Saturday, May 9
Where: Long Wharf - North (ferry location)
Closest T station: Blue Line/Aquarium
Cost (round trip): $15 adults, $9 children (ages 3-11), $11 seniors 65+, children under 3 free, family (2 adults, 2 children) $43 - 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: Mid-May - Mid-June, with dance and music performances by the Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers on Monday, June 1
Where: Boston Common, near Charles Street and the baseball field
Excavations of Boston Common and Back Bay for the construction of the subway's Green Line almost 100 years ago uncovered ancient fishweirs.
Native people built the fishweirs about 5,300 years ago to catch alewife, herring, smelt, and salmon in the tidal flats then covering the area. Over 65,000 wooden stakes were used for the 4-foot high fence-like structures.
Each year, members of the local Wampanoag and Massachusetts Nations collaborate with Boston school children to build a 150 foot fishweir sculpture on the edge of Boston Common.
Even though the fishweir resides on the Common for only a couple of months each year, it is Central Boston's only historical monument focused exclusively on the Native people who lived here for 12,000 years before the arrival of the Puritans, and maintained fishweirs similar to the one that you'll see on the Common for 1,500 years. Remnants of these still exist, buried in layers of clay 28-35 feet under the city's streets.
Photo courtesy of Ancient Fishweir Project
SoWa Art Walk in the South End
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.
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: Sunday, May 1, 11am-6pm (time to be confirmed for 2016)
Where: Start on Harrison Ave in Boston's South End, with more studios on Wareham, Waltham, Plympton, Thayer, and Washington Streets
Closest T station: Orange Line/Back Bay; or Silver Line bus to E. Berkeley Street or Union Park
Parking: 500 Harrison Street, 38 Wareham, and 500 Albany
Hidden Gardens of Beacon Hill Special Tour - 2016
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 19, 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: $35 advance reservations (see website for deadline), $45 day of the event (costs to be confirmed for 2016)
More information: website
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 be sure to bring a tasty brunch or lunch and perhaps a blanket for sitting.
When: May 8, 2016; activities and refreshments from 10am - 4pm; 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; don't count on finding any available on Lilac Sunday
More information: 617-524-1718; Arnold Arboretum website
Big Apple Circus through May 13
Noon Concerts at King's Chapel on the Freedom Trail
First Fridays at Museum of Fine Arts