Memorial Day in Boston

Memorial Day Activities for Boston Visitors - 2020

Ceremonies & Fun Things to Do on Memorial Day Weekend in Boston

Memorial Day falls on May 25 in 2020 and marks the unofficial beginning of summer in Boston.

Patio dining at local restaurants, warm weather, and lots to do make Memorial Day Weekend a perfect time to visit.

Many Boston locals head to Cape Cod, the Vineyard, or the New Hampshire mountains for the long weekend.

So for Boston tourists, that means attractive hotel rates, restaurant reservations, show and cruise tickets, and even Red Sox tickets will be easier to get than usual.

You'll also find lots of fun activities, holiday sales, and free events. 

Here are 12 suggestions for Memorial Day ceremonies, events, plus fun things to do in Boston during this first long summer weekend.

Top photo: Garden of Flags on Boston Common on Memorial Day Weekend

Find out about other things to do in Boston in May

12 Top Memorial Day Weekend Activities

1.  Massachusetts Military Heroes Garden of Flags, Memorial Day Services, Concerts

Garden of Flags on Boston Common on Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day honors those who died in wars defending our country and our freedom.

Every year, the Massachusetts Military Heroes organization plants a Garden of Flags - 37,000 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 Revolutionary War.

Flags will be put in place on Wednesday, May 22 starting at 1pm and will remain through sundown on Monday, May 27.  A name-reading ceremony to honor Massachusetts service members killed since 9/11/2001 will be held in front of the flag display on the Common on Thursday, May 23 at 10:30am.  (dates/times to be confirmed)

2020 also marks the 74th Annual Memorial Day services to be held on Saturday, May 23, 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 tranquil 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.  (dates/times to be confirmed)

More Boston War Memorials for you to visit

2.  Boston Calling Music Festival 2020

Boston Calling Music Festival performance
Boston Calling Music Festival performance - Photo credit John Eckman

Boston Calling, the popular 3-day indie and pop rock music festival that takes place over Memorial Day Weekend, returns to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston.

Headliners include Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Rage Against the Machine. Other well-known acts and local groups will be announced soon - but look for a total of about 60.

You can expect three music stages, a comedy stage, and more music than ever, plus over 30 food vendors, a wide selection of beer and wine, sponsor exhibits, and surprise attractions.

Tickets typically go fast, and prices rise as the dates draw closer.  In addition for single-day passes, you'll see options for 3-day passes plus a tiered array of VIP tickets; the most expensive tiers typically sell out the fastest.

Boston Calling 2020 Tickets

3.  Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park & More Memorial Day Weekend Entertainment

Top Memorial Day Weekend events in Boston

With the Boston Red Sox playing the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park, the Celtics (maybe) in the NBA finals at TD Garden, the popular 3-day Boston Calling Music Festival underway at Harvard Stadium, Slayer at Xfinity Center plus more concerts at Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion and House of Blues, and Blue Man Group making everyone laugh, there are plenty of events going on over Memorial Day weekend to keep you entertained!   

Plan your weekend and get your tickets now!

TicketLiquidator Discount Code - Enter TLSPRING to get $10 off orders of $250+
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

Friday, May 22

Saturday, May 23

Sunday, May 24

Monday (Memorial Day), May 25

Tuesday, May 26

Fun Hotels near Fenway Park

If you're coming to a Red Sox game, spend the night or the weekend at one of the nearby hotels, such as the hip Verb Hotel, directly across the street from Fenway Park:

Verb Hotel, top choice near Boston's Fenway Park

More top hotels near Fenway Park:

Check out more hotels near Fenway Park

4.  Shop the Memorial Day Sales

Newbury St Boutiques - Boston shopping destinations

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 you want to pick just one spot among all Boston shopping areas and malls, focus on Back Bay, where you'll find lots of different options - 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 even bigger adventure (and possibly bigger savings), Wrentham Village discount outlets and Assembly Row Outlets (5 minutes from downtown on the T) can't be beat! 

Find More Popular Boston Activities 

5.  Free Admission at Museum of Fine Arts & ICA Boston on Memorial Day

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts - Fenway Entrance

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts offers you free admission on Memorial Day (Monday) from 10am - 4:45.

Lots of special family activities will be on display, as well as plenty of special exhibits, including a quilt display, the last few days of a popular Impressionism exhibition, and an exciting display of 60 contemporary Latin American works.

You can also get free admission on Monday at ICA Boston - the perfect excuse, in case you need one, to visit the sizzling South Boston Waterfront.

If you decide to visit on another day, remember that you can get free admission when you have either a GoBoston or a Boston CityPASS discount card.

6.  Explore Boston - Take a Walking Tour

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-$20. 

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.

Another option - try this self-guided Memorial Day walking tour from Boston Common to Fenway Park to Faneuil Markeplace and the Waterfront, or try our self-guided Greenway walking tour and stop for refreshments at Trillium Beer Garden by the High Street intersection across from the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Or, walk over to City Hall Plaza (across Congress Street from Faneuil Marketplace) and explore the nine new seasonal "patios" where you'll find Wachusett Brewing's Brew Yard, Honeycomb Creamery Ice Cream, miniature golf, and more.

Popular Boston Tours & Day Trips 

7.  Go to a Show

Boston's Theatre District

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. 

For free entertainment, head to Faneuil Hall Marketplace, where Street Performers will be out in force from Saturday through Monday.  Mimes, jugglers, puppeteers, musicians, magicians, and comedians will mesmerize you with their talents.

Schedules & Tickets:

TicketLiquidator Discount Code - Enter TLSPRING to get $10 off orders of $250+
TicketNetwork Discount Code - Enter TNTIX to get $10 off orders of $300+

More shows for May

More Boston Theater District Shows

Where to have dinner in Boston's Theatre District

Top Hotels near Boston's Theatre District

Enjoy your Boston performance or show experience to the fullest when you stay in one of the nearby Theatre District hotels, such as the hip and glamorous Revere Hotel:

Revere Boston Hotel, top choice near Boston's Theatre District

More top Theatre District hotels:

Check out more hotels in Boston's Theatre District

8.  Explore the City by Bike

With so many Bostonians (in other words, crazy Boston drivers) out of town, Memorial Day weekend presents a great opportunity to explore Boston by bike safely.  Join a group tour - offerings typically include tours of the Freedom Trail, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay. 

More about Boston bike tours, rentals, and paths

9. Head to the Beach  . . . In or Near the City

Revere Beach near Boston
Flying kites on Revere Beach

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. 

So throw your swimsuit and towel into a bag, slather on some sunscreen, and check out beaches in Boston and local favorite, Castle Island.  

But if you're committed to going to the Cape, avoid the traffic by taking the ferry to Provincetown from Boston.

10.  Cruise out to the Harbor Islands . . .

Boston Harbor Island cruise boat

You'll have to go offshore to find Boston's largest park:  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. 

Cruise out on the Northern Lights

More about Boston Harbor Islands

11.  . . . Or, Cruise Around Boston Harbor

Boston sailing and yacht cruises

Tour Boston by boat - the best way to see the city!  

Check out these fun sightseeing, music, and entertainment Boston Harbor cruises on the Yacht Northern Lights and Schooner Adirondack III:

More Ways to See Boston by Water

Northern Lights Cruises:

  • Brunch Cruise - Savor a delicious 3-course brunch on this relaxing sightseeing cruise around Boston Harbor
  • Champagne City Lights Cruise - Raise your glass of bubbly to the glittering city lights as you relax to soft classical music
  • Sunday Evening Jazz Cruise - End your weekend on the perfect note by grooving to live jazz as you watch the ever-changing sunset colors as the sun sets behind Boston's city skyline
  • Winter City Lights Cruise - Unwind on this 1-hour cruise with soothing classical music in the background, perhaps a tasty drink in your hand, and city lights sparking all around you
  • Winter Sunset Cruise - Grab a cocktail and apps from the bar and then relax as you watch the sun set on this sail around the Harbor, just in time to catch the USS Constitution fire its cannons as the sun dips down past the horizon
  • Live Irish Music Cruise - Get ready for fun on this rockin' Celtic cruise with a live Irish band playing classic Boston Irish songs, traditional Irish tunes, top hits, and your requests

Adirondack III Sailing Cruises:

  • Beginning soon!

Whale Watching Cruise Tickets

Whale watching cruise

Join one of the exciting 3-hour Whale Watching Cruises departing from the convenient Downtown Boston Waterfront, and experience the thrill of spotting whales off the coast of Boston. 

You'll see these magnificent creatures close-up from the deck of your ship, probably spot Humpback and Finback whales, and see White Sided Dolphins frolicking in the waters.

These cruises sell out quickly, especially during the most popular months, but booking online is easy through GetYourGuide.  Don't miss this iconic Boston experience!

12.  Visit America's First Garden Cemetery

Magnolias blooming in Mt Auburn Cemetery in May

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.

More To See & Do in Boston

More Articles about Things to Do in Boston in May

How to Save on Boston Hotels

Check out all our tips on how to find discounts, deals, and promo codes for Boston hotels.  Whether you're looking for bargain accommodations or want to pay less for luxury, we'll show you How to Save on Hotels in Boston.

More about how to save on Boston hotels