Garden of Flags on Boston Common on Memorial Day
Are you visiting Boston on Memorial Day, 2013? Even though summer may not "officially" start until later in June, Memorial Day Weekend feels like the beginning of a more relaxed time of year when warm weather, longer days, and patio dining lure everyone outdoors.
Most Boston locals head to Cape Cod, the Vineyard, or the New Hampshire mountains for the long weekend.
For Boston tourists, that means restaurant reservations, show tickets, and even Red Sox tickets will be easier to get than usual.
You should also be able to find attractive Boston hotel rates for your Memorial Day weekend vacation.
This special May holiday, always observed on the last Monday in May, falls on May 27th in 2013.
Memorial Day honors those who died in wars defending our country. If you're planning a Boston visit on this weekend, you'll find several ceremonies commemorating those who fought for freedom.
You'll also find lots of fun tourist activities, holiday sales, and free events.
In Boston, Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer. Here are 10 suggestions for ceremonies and events, plus fun things to do in Boston during this first long summer weekend.
Every year, the Massachusetts Military Heroes organization plants a Garden of Flags - 33,000 of them - in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Boston Common to commemorate each of the Massachusetts service members who have given their lives to defend the United States and our freedom since the Civil War.
Flags will be in place from Wednesday, May 22 through sundown on Monday, May 27. A ceremony to honor Massachusetts service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will be held on the Common on Thursday, May 23rd at 10am.
2013 also marks the 67th Annual Memorial Day services to be held on Saturday, May 25, 11am at the Veterans Memorial Park in the Back Bay Fens in Boston's Fenway neighborhood. Veterans Memorial Park (sometimes called the Sergeant Charles Andrew MacGillivary Memorial to honor a local hero), a tranquill green area with monuments commemorating those who fought in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, can be found near the Kelleher Rose Gardens.
Additionally, Remembrance: A Musical Tribute to Our Heroes will be held at 6:30pm on Monday, May 27 on the Boston Waterfront at Christopher Columbus Park and will feature the Boston City Singers and the Metropolitan Wind Symphony Orchestra. The concert is free.
More Boston war memorials to visit:
You'll feel like summer has really arrived when you attend a game at Fenway Park.
You'll smell the Fenway Franks sizzling on grills as you approach the stadium, you'll hear the roar of the crowds every time the Sox hit the ball - and you may even get to see them win!
And with many Boston locals out of town this weekend, Memorial Day Weekend presents a rare opportunity to enjoy less ticket competition and often below-face-value tickets. Don't miss it! Here's the schedule
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If you love to shop, don't miss Boston's Memorial Day Weekend deals - you can easily save enough to pay for your weekend in a nice hotel. Because Boston's hot weather really only lasts for about 2 months, summer things get put on deep discount sale early - yes, by this weekend!
Best places to look? If I had to pick just one spot among all Boston shopping areas and malls, I'd focus on Back Bay - Prudential Center for upscale stores, Copley Place for international designer boutiques, and Newbury Street/Boylston Street for more designer boutiques, unique local stores, and Nike and the other big athletic gear stores.
For an even bigger adventure (and possibly bigger savings), Wrentham Village discount outlets can't be beat!
Although Boston's Museum of Fine Arts normally offers free admission on Memorial Day (Monday), this year will be extra-special.
You can enter free from Saturday through Monday for MFA's special "Boston I Love" weekend to honor the city and the Marathon bombing victims.
Lots of special exhibitions will be on display - but especially exciting will be 3 magnificent paintings offered by New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art in a gesture of solidarity with Boston: "Northeaster" by Winslow Homer, "The Monet Family in Their Garden at Argenteuil" by Edouard Manet, and "Lachrymae" by Frederic, Lord Leighton.
Another special exhibit, "To Boston with Love," will display hundreds of quilt squares sent from around the world strung like Tibetan prayer flags across the Shapiro Family Courtyard.
You can even make your own pictures for part of a collage being created in the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.
Boston by Foot, a non-profit organization, features a knowledgeable and enthusiastic group of 200+ volunteer guides who offer some of the most interesting walking tours in town at very reasonable prices - tickets generally run about $8-$15. Tours on Memorial Day typically include walks around the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, the Victorian Back Bay neighborhood, and along the Freedom Trail. No reservations necessary; pay your guide in cash when you arrive at the meet-up point. Check out times and other details on the Boston By Foot Website.
Most Boston theaters are closed on Mondays - but if you're coming to Boston for Memorial Day weekend, you'll find plenty of shows and performances on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. (After all, you'll be at the Red Sox game on Monday, right?) Check Boston theatre listings.
For free entertainment, head to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where Street Performers Festivities will be going on from Saturday through Monday. Mimes, jugglers, puppeteers, musicians, magicians, and comedians will mesmerize you with their talents.
With so many Bostonians (also known as lunatic drivers, although of course I'm not referring to myself) out of town, Memorial Day weekend presents a great opportunity to explore Boston by bike safely. Join a group tour - offerings on Monday range from UrbanAdventours include tours of the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay - or rent a Hubway bike for an hour or two and explore on your own. More about Boston bike tours, rentals, and paths
Although Boston itself is on a harbor, real beaches - yes, with sand and places to lie in the sun or buy a hot dog and slush - are closer than you might think.
True, these beaches aren't quite as magnificent as the Cape, but you can get to them on public transportation without being stuck for hours in traffic.
But if you're committed to going to the Cape, avoid the traffic by taking the ferry to Provincetown from Boston.
Boston's largest park is actually offshore: the Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area. Although the park includes 32 island and 2 peninsulas, only a few of the islands are open to the public and accessible by ferry - but they provide plenty of recreation, places to picnic, and spectacular scenery. Best of all, you can get to the closest one in only 15 minutes, and it's like being in a different world. More about Boston Harbor Islands
Although Memorial Day started as a remembrance of those who died in military service, it is also an occasion for remembering others who have departed, and one of the most beautiful spots in the Boston area for doing this is Mount Auburn Cemetery.
Flowering trees and flowers, exquisite statuary and sculptures, and a gently rolling landscape complete with ponds and resident ducks fill the 175 beautifully landscaped acres.
Directions to Mount Auburn Cemetery (580 Mount Auburn Street, Cambridge) by public transportation: From Boston, take the Red Line to Harvard Square. At the station, take either the Watertown Square or Waverley Square trolley (#71 or #73). Get off on Mount Auburn Street at Aberdeen Avenue. Mount Auburn is across the street - you'll see the entrance gate. Cross Mount Auburn at the light. Free admission.
Don't forget that with so many people out of town, restaurant reservations will be easier than usual to get. Use our guide to Boston restaurants to choose where to go.
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