When Boston Calling returns to the Harvard Athletic Complex in Allston this weekend, some things will look a little different, but most will be delightfully familiar. Whether it’s your first festival or your first big social gathering since the pandemic (you’re really the go-big-or-go-home-type, aren’t you?), there’s a lot to consider before you tackle a day and night on the lawn. Here’s our advice for keeping cool, staying safe, and having an awesome 72 hours.
How do I prepare?
First things first: Figure out transit. Boston Calling lays out several options on its website (bostoncalling.com/general-info), including the MBTA, from which the Red Line (Harvard Square), Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail (Boston Landing), and the 66 and 86 buses (Harvard Stadium) are your best bets. Bluebikes stations are at Riverside Road and Magazine Street in Cambridgeport and various spots along Western Avenue, but check their availability online as there are limited slots. You’ll then stroll down North Harvard Street to the Harvard Athletic Complex front gates for check-in. The festival is cashless, so organizers suggest you preregister your wristband (bostoncalling.com/register) with a form of payment, but credit and debit cards work fine, too.
What do/can I bring?
This year, the festival will offer a few complimentary essentials on site: Masks will be at the info booth, sanitizer and water stations are available throughout the grounds, and a Sunscreen Squad will be handing out free SPF, sponsored by the RACE Cancer Foundation. (Note: the festival is not requiring masks or proof of vaccination.) You can bring a sealed, non-glass water bottle, up to 1 gallon, or an empty hydration pack, if that’s your kind of thing. Portable chargers can be purchased at the Electric Standard booth and EMS tents have Band-Aids and other first aid amenities. You cannot bring blankets, portable seating, and bags larger than 12-by-12 inches — so wear layers and comfortable shoes, and leave that giant backpack at home. That said, you can rent a locker (lock included), inside or outside the festival, starting at $10.
What do I do with my kids?
Bring them, duh. (Children under 10 can accompany ticket holders for free.) When they’re not getting their crowd-surfing experience in, they’ll find that the festival is full of kid-friendly moments to keep little minds busy — including colorful lawn games and art, super satisfying but still sharable bites like Buenas’ empanadas and Top Shelf Cookies, and the 100-foot Ferris wheel (near the Blue Stage) that twinkles once the sun goes down. Privacy stations for nursing are available via the info booth, and shaded, seated communal areas and activations will offer some respite across the festival grounds. If you and your kiddos need an all-out break, Riverbend Park, the grassy area that follows the Charles River along Memorial Drive, is just a five-minute walk toward Harvard, and if you’re up for it, Christian A. Herter Park (which includes the Artesani Playground) is about a 20-minute walk away. Simple, fast, kid-pleasing to-go options include Pinocchio’s Pizza for Sicilian slices and cannolis from Mike’s Pastry, up the road in Harvard Square. (And if you’re in a scrape, CVS is there, too.)
I’m here. What should I do?
Beyond soaking in the three-day music lineup? Eat, drink, and get on TikTok. Boston Calling’s culinary prowess continues to run the gamut in this iteration, with 30 local restaurants and vendors bringing their goods to the grounds. Think: Sushi nachos from By Love Art, mix-and-match pierogies from Jaju’s, and naughty waffles from the Farmacy Café. (If you missed your opportunity to indulge in that giant BBQ meat cone from the Smoke Shop that made Instagram rounds a few years back, now is your chance.) General admission will also give 21+ attendees access to the craft beer garden and options from Sam Adams, the Millers — lite and High Life — 90+ Cellars, and Truly. Each day is action-packed, with several overlapping set times and stages on every end of the athletic complex, so if you want to make the most of the event, we recommend saving the image or a screenshot of the map to your phone (available at bostoncalling.com/general-info) and scheduling your day ahead of time.
I want to leave! What should I do?
The festival will have designated pickup and drop-off points for rideshare apps — but leaving as you came works, too. If you want to keep the party going, the Sinclair in Harvard Square has after parties slated for Friday with Ripe (doors at 10 p.m.) and Earthgang on Saturday (doors at 11 p.m.), with a portion of ticket sales going toward youth arts programming collective The Shout Syndicate.