Your Guide to Memorial Day Weekend in Boston

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Free museum days, Boston Calling Music Festival, baseball, and more

Memorial Day weekend is an opportunity to commemorate the sacrifices made by veterans and the men and women serving in the armed services. It’s also a great time to kick off the unofficial start of summer with family and friends. For those staying local, Boston offers a wealth of events honoring those who have died serving their country, as well as a three-day music festival, free admission to some of the city’s best art museums, and a Red Sox home game. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best events below.

Commemorating America’s Veterans

Flag Garden at the Boston Common

Stop by the annual Flag Garden at Boston Common this weekend to honor the 37,000-plus Massachusetts veterans who died while serving their country. The base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument is transformed into a sea of red, white, and blue each Memorial Day, thanks to volunteers from the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, who plant a flag for each veteran who lost their life, dating back to the Revolutionary War.

The Flag Garden, atop Flagstaff Hill on the Boston Common, is on display through Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. Take any MBTA Green Line trolley to Arlington, Boylston, or Park Street.

Flag Garden

The annual Flag Garden at Boston Common includes more than 37,000 flags planted at the base of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on the Boston Common, commemorating Massachusetts veterans who died defending their country. Photo by @michaelblanchard

Eight Bells for Memorial Day at USS Constitution Museum

In keeping with tradition, the USS Constitution Museum, devoted to the War of 1812, commemorates America’s soldiers—past and present—with special programming. On Memorial Day, museum guests can take part in a Navy tradition: in the event of a sailor’s death, eight bells are rung in their memory. This year, the museum invites visitors to honor the deaths of the 250-plus men who died on the USS Constitution during the War of 1812, by writing their names on a paper bell to be displayed in the museum. While you’re at the museum, be sure to visit the USS Constitution—the oldest commissioned warship in the world—just across the pier. The warship recently underwent a spectacular two-year, $15 million restoration. Note: the museum and ship operate separately and have different hours.

The USS Constitution Museum, in the Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown, is open from 9 am to 6 pm daily; phone: 617-426-1812. Suggested donation is $5 to $10 for adults, $3 to $5 for children, and $20 to $25 for families. Admission is free for all active duty, retired, and reserve military personnel. Honoring Our Heroes events and activities are Saturday, May 26, through Monday, May 28.

The USS Constitution is inside Boston National Historical Park, next to the USS Constitution Museum, and is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm, closed most Mondays, but is open Memorial Day. Admission to the ship is free for all visitors, first come, first served. Visitors 18 and over must provide a valid state or federal-issued ID or passport. Take an MBTA Green Line trolley to North Station and walk over the Charlestown Bridge, following signs for the Freedom Trail.

The USS Constitution

This Memorial Day, May 27, the USS Constitution Museum will honor the 250-plus men who died on the warship, by inviting visitors to write their names on a paper bell to be displayed in the museum. Photo by @USSConstitution

Cambridge Memorial Day Parade and Observance

Cambridge’s annual Memorial Day Parade and Observance, organized by the Cambridge Veterans’ Organization and Cambridge Veterans’ Services, is Monday, May 27. A cannon salute marks the beginning of the parade on the Cambridge Common at 9:30 am. Veterans, elected officials, bands, youth organizations, and police and fire personnel march through Harvard Square, up Mount Auburn Street to Coolidge Avenue, ending at the Cambridge Cemetery. At 11 am, visitors will gather for a Memorial Day Observance, which will include musical performances and a rifle salute. Afterward, the Women’s Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars will hold a brief memorial ceremony at the nearby John W. Weeks Bridge in honor of the Cambridge servicemen and women lost at sea.

The Cambridge Memorial Day Parade and Observance is Monday, May 27, at 9:30 am, at the Cambridge Common, and is expected to arrive at the Cambridge Cemetery, 76 Coolidge Ave., at 11 am. Take an MBTA Red Line train to Harvard Square.

Memorial on the Mystic Concert and Fireworks Tribute

Enjoy a free musical tribute to America’s fallen heroes at this Memorial Day concert which will include performances by the Metropolitan Wind Symphony, N’Harmony, and the Somerville High School chorus, at Sylvester Baxter State Riverfront Park at Assembly Row starting at 7:30 pm, followed by a dazzling fireworks display.

Memorial on the Mystic concert and fireworks display is Monday, May 27, at Sylvester Baxter State Riverfront Park, Assembly Row and Great River Road, Somerville. Take an MBTA Orange Line trolley to Assembly Square. Lawn chairs and blankets are recommended.

Other Memorial Day Weekend Events

Boston Calling Music Festival

As summer returns, so does Boston Calling, the popular three-day music festival that kicks off this year on Friday, May 24, and runs through Sunday, May 26, at the Harvard University Athletic Complex in Allston. Twenty One Pilots headlines Friday’s lineup, followed by Tame Impala on Saturday, and Travis Scott on Sunday. Other notable performers among the 50+ acts appearing include Greta Van Fleet, Hozier, Logic, and the artist behind the country rap hit “Old Town Road,” Lil Nas X (who will be accompanied by a special guest). Find the complete lineup here.

Be sure to check out the separate lineup of comedy acts and other performances, like Lamont Price, Jenny Slate, and Boston Ballet, performing at the Boston Calling Arena. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. And plan to come hungry. There will be numerous food vendors on hand throughout the weekend, including Roxy’s Grilled Cheese, Bon Me, Sweet Cheeks Q, and Tasty Burger.

The Boston Calling Music Festival is at the Harvard University Athletic Complex, 65 North Harvard St., Allston, Friday, May 24, through Sunday, May 26. Purchase three-day passes, weekend passes, and single-day tickets here. Gates open Friday at 2:30 pm and music ends at 11 pm. On Saturday and Sunday, gates open at noon and the final performance ends at 11 pm. Large bags and backpacks are prohibited. Find directions here.

Memorial Day Open House at the Museum of Fine Arts

To commemorate Memorial Day, the Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission on Monday with live music performances, tours, and interactive activities, many inspired by the MFA’s special current exhibit Frida Kahlo and Arte Popular, which explores Kahlo’s fascination with Mexican folk art (arte popular) and how her collection of decorated ceramics, embroidered textiles, and devotional retablo paintings inspired and shaped her work. Guests can take part in art-making activities, bilingual storytelling, and more. Guided tours offer overviews of some of the museum’s most popular collections, including art of the Americas, art of the ancient world, and the contemporary collection. At 1:30 and 3:30 pm, classical guitarist Zaira Meneses will take the stage with her band Son Jarocho in the Remis Auditorium for a musical celebration of Mexican culture. Another performance, Los Colores de Frida, combines storytelling, music, visual arts, and puppets presented in collaboration with Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción.

This year’s open house marks the start of the MFA’s expansion of accessibility to military families, including year-round free admission and discounted memberships.

The Museum of Fine Arts Memorial Day Open House is Monday, May 27, from 10 am to 5 pm, 465 Huntington Ave. Admission is free and performance tickets are first come, first served and available 30 minutes before each show at the venue. Find directions here.

Frida Kahlo Painting

The Museum of Fine Arts offers free admission on Memorial Day, with art-making activities and live musical performances inspired by their current special exhibit, Frida Kahlo and Arte Popular. Photo courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts

Free Admission at the Institute of Contemporary Art

Another one of Boston’s premier museums, the Institute of Contemporary Art, is also offering free admission on Memorial Day. Guests can view the ICA’s permanent collection as well as several temporary exhibits featuring work by Karachi artist Huma Bhabha, Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, and American artist Nina Chanel Abney. In addition, the ICA is hosting a Sci-Fi Shorts film screening, curated by the Boston Underground Film Festival, from 11 am to 4 pm. Visitors can take part in art-making activities, including a chance to create your own multimedia collage, as well.

The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston’s Memorial Day Open House is Monday, May 27, from 10 am to 5 pm, 100 Northern Ave. Find directions here.

The Patios at City Hall Plaza

Back by popular demand, the Patios returns to City Hall Plaza after a successful inaugural season last summer. Featuring nine custom patio areas, a main pavilion structure, Wachusett Brew Yard, a pop-up snack shop, and mini-golf stations, the Patios is a terrific place to enjoy a late spring day with friends and family. On Sunday, four electric grills will be available for free on a first-come, first-served basis for those who want to do their own cooking. There will also be a variety of food options with rotating food trucks Monday through Saturday from 5 to 8 pm and a midday food truck program running daily from 11 am to 3 pm. Weekly pop-ups will include “Wag Wednesdays,” which brings puppies from Dedham-based dog rescue Shultz’s Guest House to the plaza from noon to 2 pm weekly.

The Patios at One City Hall Plaza are open every day through August. Take an MBTA Green or Blue Line train to Government Center, or an Orange Line train to State St. or Haymarket.


New England Revolution vs. DC United at Gillette Stadium

Soccer fans, here’s a chance to cheer on the local team. Head over to Gillette Stadium and watch Boston’s Major League Soccer team, the New England Revolution, take on DC United at 7:30 pm on Saturday. Make a day of it by exploring Patriot Place (adjacent to the stadium), which, in addition to housing the New England Patriots Hall of Fame, also includes 1.3 million square feet of restaurants, stores, and other attractions.

The New England Revolution host DC United at Gillette Stadium, 1 Patriot Place, Foxborough, at 7:30 pm on Saturday, May 25. Purchase tickets online. Take any MBTA Green Line train to Copley Station, and walk five minutes on Dartmouth Street to Back Bay Station. Round-trip tickets to Gillette Stadium are $20 and can be purchased online or from the ticket offices at South Station, North Station, or Back Bay. Take the Franklin Line commuter rail train from Back Bay station to Norfolk station. Finally, take the Tri-Town Connector bus from Norfolk station to Patriot Place.

New England Revolution

The New England Revolution play against DC United at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough Saturday, May 25. Photo by @nerevolution

Red Sox vs. Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park

With a 25-23 record so far this season, the Red Sox appear to be in the middle of a World Series hangover. That said, a trip to Fenway Park is always a treat. Cheer the team on as they host the Cleveland Indians on Monday in the first of three consecutive home games.

The Boston Red Sox host the Cleveland Indians at Fenway Park, 4 Yawkey Way, Boston, on Monday, May 27, at 4:05 pm, Tuesday, May 28, at 7:10 pm, and Wednesday, May 29, at 7:10 pm. Purchase tickets online.

Abigail Freeman (COM’19) can be reached at [email protected].