Boston’s Best Free Summer Music Events

May 23, 2013 6:00 AM

Faneuil Hall and the surrounding marketplace (credit: Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Free is where it’s at with these summer music events. These are the sort of fresh air concerts that don’t stress out the wallet, leaving only good times and fond memories to be made on a warm, welcoming summer night. Here are five of the Boston area’s best bets for free music events this summer.

Related: Best Summer Music Festivals And Tours

(Credit: Cambridge River Festival)

(Credit: Cambridge River Festival)

Cambridge River Festival
Bank of the Charles River
Memorial Drive between JFK St. and Western Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02139

Date: May 31 through June 1

Running strong as a 34-year tradition, the Cambridge River Festival is an arts and music lover’s dream, bringing together the best in Latin, roots and traditional world music with a wealth of arts and family friendly activities to keep visitors of all ages busy and happy throughout the weekend. In addition to musical performances, the 2013 edition of the Cambridge River Festival will feature magic shows, wall climbing, dog tricks, face painting, science experiments and cooking demonstrations, all designed to create a weekend of fun memories for young and old.

Related: Boston’s Best Family Friendly Breakfast & Brunch Spots

(Photo Credit: Lowell Folk Festival)

(Photo Credit: Lowell Folk Festival)

Lowell Folk Festival
Downtown Lowell (Gorham St.)
Lowell, MA 01850

Date: July 26-28

The Lowell Folk Festival is kind of a big deal. Most of downtown Lowell will be closed off to car traffic during the (hopefully) warm weekend of July 26th through the 28th, as some of folk music’s best and biggest names descend upon the city to treat its folkie fanatics to three days of passionate songwriting, melodic musicianship and inspired lyricism. There will be multiple stages set up throughout the downtown area, including a kids stage, to accommodate folks fans from all walks life and taste. Speaking of taste, a wide variety of ethnic and traditional food booths will be lining downtown streets and shops, all celebrating a green weekend of fun, friends and folk.

AMP Birthday Bash
Boston City Hall Plaza

Date: June 30, 2 p.m.

Boston’s newest hit music station is celebrating their first birthday with a free concert on City Hall Plaza. Chart-topping artists scheduled to perform at the Birthday Bash include Jason Derulo and Boston’s own Sammy Adams as well as special performances by Selena Gomez and Ariana Grande. The entire 103.3 AMP Radio line-up of personalities will be on had to host.

salem Bostons Best Free Summer Music Events

Salem Jazz And Soul Festival
Salem Willows
167 Fort Ave.
Salem, MA 01970

Date: Aug. 17-18

Shifting musical gears a bit, the city of Salem decides to cool things down a bit for its summer concert series, offering up a weekend of super chill jazz and soul from both local and regional acts. Acts scheduled to appear for this August weekend event include the Brooklyn-based funk act Turkuaz, the Salem High School Jazz Band and the North Shore Jazz Project All Stars, all of whom share one common denominator: the desire to represent some cool musical chops while simultaneously setting off some smooth soul for some of Salem’s most in-the-know cats. This event comes heartily recommended for a summer evening’s change of pace.

Related: Best Tattoo Parlors South of Boston

Faneuil Hall and the surrounding marketplace (credit: Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Faneuil Hall and the surrounding marketplace (credit: Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau)

Arts On The Arcade
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
1 Faneuil Hall Square
Boston, MA 02109
(617) 723-9109

Date: Weekly from July 3 through Aug. 28 

Arts on the Arcade is something of a weekly Wednesday tradition in the city of Boston, a joyous celebration of artistic and cultural diversity throughout the neighborhoods, where visitors can spend an afternoon (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) enjoying music, food and other visual/performing arts while strolling through the historic Faneuil and City Hall areas of the city. While entertainment and performers differ on an ever-rotating schedule of availability, the free-form nature of Arts on the Arcade is something that keeps both locals and visitors coming back every week to see what’s new.

Caliente: A Celebration Of Latin Music
City Hall Plaza
1 City Hall Square
Boston, MA 02201
(617) 635-4000

Date: July 18

There’s nothing like a free night of smokin’ Latin tunes to make the hot summer nights seem even more sweltering. The city of Boston knows just the sort of party to throw in order to truly get the musical blood boiling ’round City Hall. Caliente is a yearly celebration of Latin music and culture, which has seen some big time headliners hitting the City Plaza stage in the past, including Willie Colon and Jerry Rivera. This year’s festivities promise even more hot-blooded Latin music goodness for the city’s ardent music lovers, keeping in line with an established tradition of fun, good times and great music.

George Pacheco has been writing professionally about arts and entertainment for over a decade. A graduate of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, George currently resides in a humble New England home with his wife, cat and massive music and film collection. His work can be found at