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11 ways to celebrate Memorial Day weekend in Boston

While not actually summer yet, the weekend brings a chance to enjoy classic New England activities, food, and culture.

An order of ribs by M&M BBQ in Boston.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

Welcome, Boston, to that Official Unofficial Start of Summer: Memorial Day Weekend. Insert sunglasses emoji here. From pickleball and rock concerts to ice cream and fried clams, summer starts... now.


Volunteers helped place American flags on Boston Common for Memorial Day 2022.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Keep the holiday’s meaning in mind: For the first time since 2016, Somerville hosts a Memorial Day Parade May 28, stepping off at noon from Davis Square, and ending at the Veterans Cemetery, according to the city’s website. Meanwhile, the annual Boston Common Memorial Day Flag Garden, May 25-May 29 at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, commemorates Massachusetts service members who lost their lives in the line of duty.



Fans cheer as singer Khalid Robinson performs at the Boston Calling music festival in 2018. Keith Bedford/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

It’s like Boston’s Coachella but you don’t have to dress up in tragically hip outfits for Instagram. Hit up Dunks, then grab your crew: It’s time to rock the Harvard Athletic Complex. Some 50 bands take to four stages in the three-day Boston Calling, May 26-28.

Friday’s lineup includes incendiary guitarist Celisse, the Foo Fighters debuting a new drummer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, the National, and Boston’s own bilingual fight-song-singer Alisa Amador.

Isn’t it ironic that Alanis Morissette headlines Saturday, along with the Lumineers, the Flaming Lips, and Boston’s Q-Tip Bandits? Sunday’s highlights include super-talent Maren Morris, Paramore, Queens of the Stone Age, the Walkmen, and King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

Plus, a ferris wheel and, oh! the food: Find anything from plant-based ice cream to wood-fired pizza, Greek gyros, Polish pierogis… We’re not drooling, you’re drooling.


Jahzara Mackey is coached by her father James Mackey while playing a game of cornhole on The Lawn on D in South Boston in 2021.Erin Clark/Globe Staff

Everyone’s favorite sport arrives this season at the Lawn on D. New pickleball courts are free and available whenever the Lawn is open to the public. If you plan to play, book now via “Please take note of the calendar for open play times (first come, first serve),” they note online. “[W]e rely on an honor-system reservation system.”


Whether you’re playing or cheering, the Lawn on D will be jamming: the fun starts May 25 with a DJ, lawn games, concessions and bar. Similar vibes for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The actual holiday is a day to chillax on the open lawn (7 a.m.-11 p.m.) 420 D St.


Installation view of “Simone Leigh” at the Institute of Contemporary Art.TIMOTHY SCHENCK

The ICA offers bookend free-admission days: Kick the weekend off with free Thursday admission (5-9 p.m., tickets available starting at 10 a.m. Thursday.) Or explore on free-admission Monday (10 a.m.-5 p.m.; tickets are required; you can reserve them starting on Sunday at 10 am) and get hands-on with Art Lab activities 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Go either day, but go: don’t miss your chance to see the Simone Leigh exhibition. Leigh rose to superstardom representing the US at the 2022 Venice Biennale, and works from that landmark presentation make their US premiere here and now.

Meanwhile, the ICA’s Watershed opens for the season May 25 with Guadalupe Maravilla: Mariposa Relámpago, one of Globe art critic Murray Whyte’s picks for must-see summer exhibits. 25 Harbor Shore Drive. 617-478-3100.


The “Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence” exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts runs through July 16.Ann and Graham Gund Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts also offers free admission on Memorial Day for Massachusetts residents, along with some fun events: Make your own paper embedded with native wildflower and meadow seeds (10 a.m.–3 p.m.) and explore the Art Fair with Mission Hill Main Streets (10 a.m.–4 p.m.)


Then explore the museum: Current exhibits include “Hokusai: Inspiration and Influence,” “Hear Me Now: The Black Potters of Old Edgefield, South Carolina,” “Touching Roots: Black Ancestral Legacies in the Americas,” and “The Provincetown Printmakers.” 465 Huntington Ave., 617-267-9300.


Kimball Farm is one of the great options to get an ice cream treat.Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff

Ditch the freezer-burned carton — ‘tis the season for outdoor licks and scoops. In 2021, Globe readers dished on their own favorites, including:


If the kiddos are itching for a day at the zoo, you’re just in time for Butterfly Hollow: Franklin Park Zoo’s immersive seasonal habitat opens for the season May 27. The tented, outdoor exhibit features native flowers, a pond, “soothing music, and whimsical fairy houses,” according to the zoo’s description. Plus find a Baikal teal, and meet Eve — a 50-year-old common cooter turtle. 1 Franklin Park Road, 617-541-LION,


It’s all the summer vibes at once: beer, wine, food trucks, fest atmosphere. Bring the kids, your dog, your cousins. It’s SoWa Sunday, baby. The SoWa (South of Washington) district, packed with artists’ studios, galleries and shops, hosts their Sunday open markets now through October. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. 500 Harrison Ave. Details at


The Globe Magazine recently rounded up “24 Perfect Foods Worth A Road Trip This Summer.” Welp, it’s go time, foodies. A few spots within an hour of Boston:


  • Dorchester Brewing Co.’s M&M BBQ (no, not those M&Ms) pairs brews with pulled pork, half-racks of pork ribs, barbecue chicken, mac and cheese, collard greens, coleslaw, candied yams, and corn bread. 1250 Massachusetts Ave., Boston, 617-514-0900,; M&M BBQ, 617-307-7674,
  • Del’s Lemonade, with various locations, is simply a sugary lemony summer staple.
  • Woodman’s of Essex is an old-school counter-service spot for fried seafood. For Memorial Day weekend, they suggest dining outside under the Salt Marsh Tent overlooking the Essex River. 119 Main St., Essex; 978-768-6451,
  • For lobster rolls, stuffies and clamcakes, take a drive to Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown, R.I. Pillowy clam cakes are battered and fried to golden perfection. Pair with chowder and draft beer. 4 Wave Ave., Middletown, Rhode Island; 401-847-8141,


Nothing says summer nights like a drive-in movie. Bring your crew to Mendon Twin (up to 6 people, $33 a carload) for outdoor screenings of summer blockbusters. Memorial Day Weekend movies include the new live-action “The Little Mermaid,” “Fast X,” and two Chris Pratt flicks: “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” There’s an on-site beer garden, ice cream, and snack shack for pizza, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, fried dough, and the like — and of course popcorn and candy, according to website. 35 Milford St., Mendon.


Keep the party rolling into Tuesday: The Colonnade Hotel’s rooftop pool opens to the public May 30. With a birds-eye view of Boston, the pool is open to the public Mondays through Thursdays, and Sundays after 2 p.m. ($50.) 120 Huntington Ave. 617-424-7000.

Lauren Daley can be reached at She tweets @laurendaley1.