10 Can’t-Miss Festivals in Boston

Festivals in Boston attract people from all over the world to come together and celebrate the art, food, culture, and music that make the city so special. Whether you want to spend a day indulging in authentic Italian cuisine, jam out at a music festival, or watch some epic fireworks for the Fourth of July, Boston has a festival to get anyone excited.

A huge red and white firework explodes over the Boston skyline on the Fourth of July, one of the most fun Festivals in Boston
Boston will find any excuse for fireworks! Photo credit: Matthew Landers

Read on for 10 can’t-miss festivals in Boston so that you don’t miss out on this city worth celebrating!

First Night

First Night is Boston’s New Years Eve celebration. The City comes together to celebrate the New Year through music, art, and great food. First Night is a Boston tradition dating back to its debut in 1975, but we swear each year is better than the last.

The celebration features ice sculptures on display in Copley Square, unforgettable firework displays throughout the night, and an array of music performances all over the city.

First Night is arguably one of the liveliest nights in Boston, every bit of the city is buzzing! But, be sure to bundle up with your scarf and thick socks because even though the celebration is hot, the weather is chilly.

St. Anthony’s Feast

St. Anthony’s Feast is the North End’s biggest celebration of Italian food, art, and music! For over 100 years, the city has gathered for this authentic Italian street festival to celebrate the Italian-American community that is so special to Boston.

Saint Anthony is honored through the yearly celebration of St. Anthony’s Feast which is the largest Italian street festival in New England. National Geographic called St. Anthony’s Feast the “Feast of all Feasts!”

This one-of-a-kind festival features parades, religious and cultural services, Italian foods, and entertainment throughout the charming North End neighborhood. The tradition takes place on the weekend of the last Sunday of August. It’s the perfect way to end a wonderful New England summer!

A crowded street in Boston's North End during St. Anthony's feast
As with any Italian celebration, there’s going to be lots of food! Especially at St. Anthony’s Feast in Boston’s North End. Todd Van Hoosear

Boston Calling Music Festival

There is so much to explore and experience at the Boston Calling Music Festival. This festival features over 50 performances across four outdoor stages paired with some of the best food in Boston. Not to mention the massive Ferris wheel, art exhibits, and interactive games.

Boston Calling is a celebration of music that brings together artists from a variety of genres. Artists joining in 2023 include Weezer, Glass Animals, The Backseat Lovers, Avril Lavigne, and more. Past noteworthy headliners include Tyler the Creator, The Killers, Eminem, and Twenty-One Pilots.

VIP tickets are available as well as 3-day and 1-day options. The festival takes place on Memorial Weekend each year. Make sure to mark your calendar and secure your tickets to kick off summer in Boston in the best way possible!

Close up of musical artists Lizzo and Andy Moran standing on stage performing at Boston Calling Music Festival
See all your favorite artists at Boston Calling Music Festival. Photo credit: digboston

Harborfest & Boston Pops

Harborfest is a city-wide Fourth of July tradition that has something for everyone. It’s also one of the largest celebrations of Independence Day in the nation. Festivities take place throughout the entire week and conclude exactly how any Fourth of July celebration should–with fireworks! Other events include historical reenactments, Freedom Trail walks, boat tours, live entertainment, great food, and much more.

The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular was inspired by the Boston Pops themselves, a famous orchestra in Boston. This festival was created to bridge the gap between Boston locals and the orchestra. Today, the celebration features a public orchestra performance along with incredible fireworks displays.

Locals and tourists alike gather along the Charles River Esplanade to listen to world-class music and watch fireworks light up the sky in an array of colors. The Fourth of July in Boston is truly something special and an experience you won’t soon forget!

A huge crowd is gathered on the lawn facing the Boston Pops performance dome on the Fourth of July
Fourth of July celebrations in Boston are a big deal, especially Boston Pops. Photo credit: Jason Kong

Greenfest

Boston’s Greenfest is an environmentally conscious festival put together by local nonprofits to celebrate the earth! The mission of the festival is to inspire the community to care for the planet and each other. Greenfest seeks to educate and excite attendees through music, dance, sustainable products, electric vehicles, activities, food, and more.

Greenfest is one of the most feel-good festivals in Boston. If you find yourself in the city during the summer season, keep your eye out for this wholesome and inspiring celebration of innovation and the natural world.

Chinatown August Moon Festival

Chinatown’s August Moon Festival is a celebration of the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival. This celebration features cultural performances as well as Chinese calligraphy and art, and incredible vendors of authentic Chinese food. This August festival revolves around appreciation for the moon.

The festival attracts people from all walks of life to Boston’s Chinatown to celebrate an important Chinese holiday while highlighting the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association of New England and Chinatown’s endless offerings. This celebration also works to educate people on Chinese culture through lion dancing, Chinese opera, and martial arts.

No August Moon Festival is complete without a Mooncake! Mooncakes are Chinese desserts typically filled with lotus bean paste and egg yolk which represents the moon. These decadent desserts are shared between family and friends as part of the celebration and to honor the unity of family.

Close up of a mooncake, a traditional sweet eaten during the Chinese Autumn Moon Festival
Be sure to grab a mooncake if you’re in Boston’s Chinatown for August Moon Festival. Photo credit: Chee Kweng Teoh

Boston Local Food Festival

The Local Food Festival is a delicious celebration of local food and community. Supporting local farmers and small businesses has never been more important. The festival is located on the historic Boston waterfront, along Fort Point Channel.

This Boston festival showcases locally harvested produce and seafood from farmers and fishermen, specialty and artisan foods, competitions between chefs, local and cultural music, hand-crafted wines and locally crafted beer, entertainment activities for kids, arts and crafts, and interactive workshops. There is something for everyone at the Boston Local Food Festival!

Dozens of tents at the Boston Local Food Festival with tall buildings rising up in the background
Support local farmers and taste delicious local foods at the Boston Local Food Festival. Photo credit: Peter E

Boston Seafood Festival

The Boston Seafood Festival–located on Boston’s historic Fish Pier–is one of the most beloved festivals in Boston.

Located right on the Atlantic, Boston has some of the best seafood in the nation. Each August, people gather for a celebration of seafood that consists of chef demonstrations, oyster shucking contests, traditional lobster bakes, live music, children’s activities, and more. If you visit, keep your eye out for pirates!

Fisherman’s Feast

Fisherman’s Feast is the oldest continuous Italian festival in the North End. This annual event began in Boston in 1910, and is based on a tradition that goes back to the 16th century in Sciacca, Sicily. When the fishermen immigrated to America in the early 1900s, they brought their traditions with them.

Today’s Feast is very similar to how it was over 100 years ago. Festival lights brighten the streets at night and the smell of authentic Italian food fills the air. This vibrant celebration is organized by the descendants of immigrants and transports you right to Italy.

Close up of a tray of ziti with people serving up plates of pasta in the background. Fisherman's Feast is the oldest continuous Italian festival in Boston's North End.
Eat all the Italian food you possibly can at Fisherman’s Feast, the oldest continuous Italian festival. Photo credit: Yi-Chien Chang

St. Patrick’s Day

The Irish-American population of Boston takes it to the next level with one of the biggest celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day in the country. The St. Patrick’s Day parade is massive as people dressed in green flood the streets. Festivities usually last several days as traditional restaurants dish out their best corned beef and cabbage, and Irish bars party until the sun comes up. There’s no better place in the U.S. to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day than Boston.

A bright green float in the street during a St. Patrick's Day Parade
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston’s “Southie” neighborhood is truly iconic. Photo credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

There is always some form of celebration happening in Boston, especially during the warmer months! There is no better way to feel connected to a city than to embrace its most beloved traditions, and there is no shortage of opportunities for that with so many festivals in Boston. Keep up to date on the best events in Boston with the official Boston events calendar, so you’ll know exactly where to be during your visit.