Summer is just about here and there’s no better time to get outside with the kids than right now. Whether you’re headed to the beach or going on a hike, outdoor fun abounds during this season. And one of the best ways to soak it up is at Boston’s many summertime festivals. The 10 listed here are all super kid-friendly and will make for a memorable summer day.
1. Topsfield Strawberry Festival—Topsfield
One of the first of many free strawberry festivals in the region promises fresh-picked strawberries, shortcakes, and cream; as well as craft vendors, kids' games, and live music throughout the day.
2. World Oceans Day Festival—Boston
Families can participate in free outdoor activities as the Aquarium celebrates World Oceans Day. The day includes hands-on activities for kids, seafood cooking demonstrations, and lots to learn about ocean animals.
Kids love to pick out their favorite designs at Boston's Dragon Boat Festival. Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Tourism
3. Dragon Boat Festival—Boston
Watch more than 50 teams race their dramatic looking dragon boats on the Charles all weekend, starting at 7am each day. There are also arts and crafts, delicious Asian food, and lots of cultural performances to keep kids entertained each day.
4. Summer Solstice Celebration—Cambridge
This free event features live music, dance, and activities for all ages—as well as admission to Harvard Semitic Museum, Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, Peabody Museum of Archeology & Ethnology and Harvard Museum of Natural History.
There will be a whole bunch of Yankee Doodle Dandies at Harborfest. Photo courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
June 28-July 4
One of Boston’s most patriotic festivals, Harborfest, takes place over four days in early July to celebrate our country’s independence. Events are spread out throughout the city and many are family friendly. Top picks with kids include harbor cruises, noontime colonist reenactments at Washington and Summer Streets over the weekend, and music and fireworks on Saturday night.
Somerville has a ton of festivals throughout the year, but one of the best—and most kid-friendly—is ArtBeat. The fun kicks off Friday night with live music in Seven Hills Park in Davis Square. Bring a picnic or buy food from one of the many vendors and make an evening of it. The main festival takes place on Saturday when Davis Square gets shut down to cars and opens to pedestrians. There’s more live music, food, kids’ activities, and of course, art.
Kids can get inspired at the Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival. Photo courtesy of Joe Siciliano
7. Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival—Revere
The Revere Beach Sand Sculpting Festival is the largest such event on the East Coast, drawing 500,000 spectators. Every summer, artists work with nothing but sand and water to create works of art on the beach that are quite a sight. In addition to the sand masterpieces, the festival includes a Kid’s Zone and Learning Center, plus food trucks, amusement rides and fireworks.
8. Lowell Folk Festival—Lowell
Take in sounds from around the world, including music from Ireland, Africa, Portugal, Greece and many other locales, at the Lowell Folk Festival. In addition to the lively tunes, there’s a craft fair, food vendors and street performers like jugglers and international dance troupes. This kid-friendly festival even has a Family Activity Area with crafts and games like bean bag and ring toss.
The Cambridge Carnival features a lively parade with colorful costumes and music. Photo by Michael C. Smith
If you're looking for the perfect end-of-summer family fest, Riverfest has it all. From live music to a sidewalk sale to dedicated children's activities, there is something for every family member (for free!). Be sure to stay for the epic fireworks display at sunset.
10. Cambridge Carnival—Cambridge
Cambridge Carnival, a celebration rooted in African traditions, is the city’s largest festival. One of the highlights of this colorful, diverse fest is a lively parade with unique music and costumes. The carnival also features a KidsFest that includes stilt walking demos, storytelling, face painting, balloon art and much more.
Original piece posted in 2016; updated in 2017, 2018