Things to do

Ideas for fun things to do around Boston this fall

Your calendar of events, music, theater, and more for the season.

10/19/2014 CAMBRIDGE, MA Michigan competed in the Women's Championship Eights during the 2014 Head of the Charles Regatta (cq). (Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe)
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe/File
The Head of the Charles Regatta returns in October.


Cambridge Carnival / September 10

The 1¼-mile parade by revelers in kaleidoscopic costumes and headdresses is the centerpiece of this Caribbean-style festival, in its 25th year. Head to Central Square for the procession, and stay for music and international foods and crafts. The KidsFest activity zone offers face painting, storytelling, craft activities, and more. Free.

Somerville Dog Festival / September 10

Head to Trum Field in Somerville to sniff out a variety of dog- and family-friendly activities, including a kibble maze and “come when called” classes, as well as food trucks (for humans) and other vendors. The Somerville Foundation for Animals’ annual event benefits the Somerville Pet Food Bank and the Massachusetts Vest-a-Dog Program. Free; donations requested for some activities.

The Big E / September 15-October 1

New England comes to West Springfield for the Big E. The supersized fair celebrating the six-state region includes — among many, many other things — live entertainment, carnival food of all descriptions, and agricultural and livestock exhibitions and competitions. $15, children 6-12 $10, under 5 free; passes available. 413-205-5115;

FreshGrass Festival / September 15-17


The biggest names in bluegrass and roots head to Mass MoCA in North Adams for three family-friendly days of music. The rain-or-shine extravaganza abounds with performances, workshops, competitions, a kids’ program, and more. Passes start at $46. 413-662-2111;

Boston Local Food Festival / September 17

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Coinciding with the fall harvest, the eighth annual festival showcases sustainably produced food in cooking demonstrations, family activities, exhibitions, and what organizers bill as the largest one-day farmers market in New England. All that, plus food vendors and live music. On the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway from Mercantile Street to High Street. Free.

Boston Comedy Festival / September 20-24

In its 18th year, the festival brings comedians from all over the world to the Boston area, with most venues in and around Somerville’s Davis Square. Events include shows by national headliners and promising locals, a stand-up contest, short films, and a benefit for the Lenny Bruce Foundation and Right Turn hosted by Tony V. Ticket prices vary; passes available. 844-424-2420;

Neil deGrasse Tyson: An Astrophysicist Reads the Newspaper / September 28

A true Renaissance man — award-winning astrophysicist, author, and director of the Hayden Planetarium — Neil deGrasse Tyson takes the stage at Worcester’s Hanover Theatre for an evening of conversation about science, exploration, and current events. From $49. 877-571-7469;

The BSO and the Boston Pops in Franklin Park / October 1

The Boston Symphony Orchestra’s first performance at Franklin Park is also the first time the BSO and the Boston Pops will perform on the same stage in a free outdoor public venue. The crowd-pleasing program features work by John Williams, Shostakovich, Mahler, and African-American musical pioneer William Grant Still. The pre-concert festival will include musical demonstrations, family activities, and more. Free. 617-266-1492;

HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands / October 6-8


International brass bands and the people who love them pour into Davis Square to celebrate music, community, and activism. Events at the 12th annual festival include a lantern parade, a music and dance party, and a Day of Action, when activism takes center stage. Free.

Junior League of Boston Designer Show House / October 7-November 5

The centerpiece of this year’s high-profile redecoration project — executed by 22 local designers and firms — is the 1853 William Flagg Homer House in Belmont. Proceeds benefit community programs for women and at-risk girls in the Boston area. On opening weekend, local vendors will be on-site selling home furnishings, apparel, and more. $40, $35 in advance.

Opening Our Doors / October 9

The Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, Mary Baker Eddy Library, and more Fenway Cultural District venues hold open houses and showcase music and dance performances, lectures, interactive workshops, walking tours, and more. New this year: Students from area colleges perform at Northeastern University. Free.

CatVideoFest / October 15

It’s all right there in the name. Will Braden, creator of the Henri, le Chat Noir videos, curated this 75-minute collection of irresistible cat videos. What’s more, CatVideoFest raises money for local cat charities, animal welfare organizations, and shelters. What’s not to love? Berklee Performance Center. $15, $12 in advance.

Boston International Fine Art Show / October 19-22

The 21st annual show and sale, at the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts in the South End, attracts dozens of US and European galleries as well as collectors and art lovers. The schedule includes talks and special exhibitions plus a preview gala. $15, children under 12 free; gala tickets from $125. 617-363-0405;

Head of the Charles Regatta / October 21-22


The international rowing community floods both banks of the Charles River for the 53d Head of the Charles Regatta. Competitors of all ages and tens of thousands of spectators make the race one of New England’s most anticipated traditions. Free. 617-868-6200;

Boston Veg Food Fest / October 21-22

Whether you’re committed to eating lower on the food chain or just curious and hungry, the Reggie Lewis Athletic Center is the place to be. Vendors, exhibitors, speakers, cooking demonstrations, and activities — plus free samples — showcase veganism and vegetarianism. Bring questions, an open mind, and an appetite. Free.

Boston Book Festival / October 28

Join M.T. Anderson, Maureen Dowd, Adam Gopnik, Lemony Snicket, Jacqueline Woodson, and dozens of other authors at the 2017 Boston Book Festival in and around Copley Square. The square fills with exhibitors and food vendors while readings, panel discussions, workshops, and kid-friendly events and activities take place in nearby buildings, including Trinity Church. Free. 857-259-6999;



Apocalyptica / September 12

Finnish cello metal band Apocalyptica, touring to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its transformative debut album Plays Metallica by Four Cellos, appears at The Wilbur. $35-$40. 617-248-9700;

Alison Moyet / September 13

The acclaimed British singer-songwriter Alison Moyet draws from her catalog — she was half of the 1980s synth-pop duo Yaz — and new material from her 2017 album, Other, at the Royale. $39, $35 in advance. 617-338-7699;

The Aghan Whigs and Har Mar Superstar / September 14

Opening for indie-rock darlings The Afghan Whigs, Har Mar Superstar, the fun-loving beats-based music pioneer, brings his mad celebration of joy to the Paradise Rock Club. $35, $33 in advance.

J Balvin / September 15

Colombian superstar J Balvin brings his Energia tour to the Wang Theatre, riding a wave of danceable reggaeton favorites, including “Safari” and the global crossover hit “Mi Gente.” From $49.

Boston Symphony Orchestra Opening Night / September 22

The BSO celebrates the centennial of Leonard Bernstein’s birth (in Lawrence) with music by the groundbreaking composer and conductor. Mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade, a legend in her own right, hosts and performs. From $95. 617-266-1492;

Seu Jorge Presents: The Life Aquatic, a Tribute to David Bowie / September 24

Brazilian singer-songwriter Seu Jorge played a safety expert who sings David Bowie songs in Portuguese in Wes Anderson’s 2004 film The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. He mounts a tribute to Bowie, who died last year, at Symphony Hall. From $52. 617-266-1492;

Herbie Hancock / October 5

The jazz pioneer brings his wide-ranging repertoire to the Orpheum Theatre. The winner of 14 Grammy Awards — including album of the year in 2008 for River: The Joni Letters — turned 77 in April and doesn’t seem to be slowing down. From $43.50.

Boston unCommon Music Festival / October 7

Local bands, including Colbis the Creature, I Was Awake, and Audible Crayons, perform original music at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common. Free.

King Crimson / November 6

One of the most influential progressive rock bands of all time, King Crimson originally came together in 1968 and set the tone for the hard rock of the 1970s. Guitarist Robert Fripp returns to the Orpheum Theatre with longtime associates Tony Levin (bass) and Mel Collins (saxophone). From $38.


Boston Film Festival  / September 21-24

The 33d annual festival features independent films from around the world, including documentary and narrative features and shorts as well as animated and experimental efforts. At the AMC Loews Boston Common and other area venues. Adults $14, students $8, children and seniors $6; passes available.

Boston Latino International Film Festival / September 28-October 1

Now in its 15th year, the festival showcases documentary, feature-length, and short films that realistically represent the international Latino community. Films are in English and in Spanish with English subtitles. Venues — on college campuses in Boston and Cambridge — and prices vary.

Boston Asian American Film Festival / October 19-22

New England’s largest Asian-American film festival, in its ninth year, spotlights independent work examining the Asian-American experience. Filmgoers are invited to talk with filmmakers and actors after each screening. At Emerson College’s Paramount Center and other venues; prices vary. 617-545-4694;

Boston Palestine Film Festival / October 20-29

The 11th annual festival presents documentaries, features, rare early works, video art pieces, and new films by emerging artists and youth, offering views of Palestine and its history, culture, and geographically dispersed society. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and other venues; prices vary.

Arlington International Film Festival / October 26-29

This celebration of international and multicultural film not only includes narrative and documentary features and shorts but also provides a showcase for short submissions by local and international high school students. At the Capitol Theatre in Arlington. Single film $11, seniors and students $9; passes available.

Boston Jewish Film Festival / November 8-20

Founded in 1989, this festival has expanded over the years to include music, dance, and even podcasting, but the centerpiece remains contemporary film. Look for features, shorts, documentaries, and conversations with visiting artists. Multiple venues; prices vary. Passes available. 617-244-9899;


Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood Live: King for a Day / October 7

Daniel Tiger busts out of the number-one PBS Kids series to visit the Hanover Theatre in Worcester. Accompanied by his TV friends and plenty of singing, Daniel learns a lesson about being a responsible royal. $29-$75. 877-571-7469;

PJ Masks Live! Time to Be a Hero / October 7-8

The animated series about 6-year-old superheroes comes to life onstage at the Wang Theatre, where Catboy, Owlette, and Gekko must keep villains Romeo, Night Ninja, and Luna Girl from wreaking havoc. $25-$135.

Boston International Kids Film Festival / November 2-5

International documentary, feature, and short films made by and for kids are the centerpiece of the festival, with a block dedicated to films by students from middle school through graduate school. Filmmaking and critical media workshops are also featured. Multiple venues. Single feature or block of shorts $15, $12 in advance; passes available.


Let’s Dance Boston / September 13-17

Brush up on — or learn — swing, mambo, disco, salsa, and Yiddish folk dance moves in Dewey Square on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. Professional instructors offer free lessons before dancing sessions powered by live bands. Free.

Dance UP / September 22-23

Six rising-star choreographers from around New England stage performances of hip-hop, tap, and contemporary dance at the Institute of Contemporary Art. $32. 617-478-3100;

Pilobolus / October 27-29

The Connecticut-based modern dance company visits the Shubert Theatre. In addition to its signature acrobatic numbers, the troupe has worked with Israeli filmmaker Shira Geffen and Israeli writer Etgar Keret to create a piece called The Inconsistent Pedaler. From $35.

Obsidian Tear / November 3-12

The North American premiere of Obsidian Tear, Royal Ballet choreographer Wayne McGregor’s 2016 piece for nine male dancers, precedes the world premiere of a work by Boston Ballet choreographer Jorma Elo, 5th Symphony of Jean Sibelius. At the Opera House. From $35. 617-695-6955;

Anna Myer and Dancers / November 10-11

The latest work by iconoclastic Boston choreographer Anna Myer — accompanied by both a DJ and a violist — makes its world premiere at the Institute of Contemporary Art. $36. 617-478-3100;


The Phantom of the Opera / September 13-October 1

The new touring production of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s record-setting musical stops at the Opera House. Cameron Mackintosh’s production boasts new special effects, scenic and lighting designs, staging, and choreography. $40-$110. 866-523-7469;

Home / September 27-October 1

The construction of a house on the stage of the Emerson Paramount Center is the framework of lead artist and performer Geoff Sobelle’s new interactive work. With an audience-participation component, magic, dance, live music, and more, Home explores what we mean by “home.” $10-$80. 617-824-8400;

Fun Home / October 17-29

The 2015 Tony Award winner for best musical, on its first national tour, plays the Opera House. Based on Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir, the coming-of-age story centers on Bechdel’s coming out as a lesbian and her relationship with her gay father. From $40. 866-523-7469;

Black Odyssey / October 30

The story of an African-American Gulf War veteran’s experiences as he tries to return home to his wife, Marcus Gardley’s musical interprets American folklore through Greek mythology. At the Central Square Theater in Cambridge. Free, RSVP required. 617-576 9278;

Tartuffe / November 10- December 10

Three and a half centuries after Moliere offended Louis XIV with his satire, the Huntington Theatre Company tackles the classic farce about a pious trickster determined to scheme his way into a fortune. Artistic director Peter DuBois is at the helm. $20-$105. 617-266-0800;



Mark Rothko: Reflection / Opening September 24

This high-profile Museum of Fine Arts exhibition kicks off by contrasting Mark Rothko with Rembrandt and explores his career through 11 large-scale works on loan from the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. $25, $23 seniors and students, $10 youth 7-17, members and children under 6 free. 617-267-9300;

Liz Glynn: The Archaeology of Another Possible Future / Opening October 7

Boston-born, Los Angeles-based artist Liz Glynn takes over Mass MoCA’s Building 5 with a multimedia installation. The sprawling North Adams space incorporates catwalks, digital printers, sensory chambers constructed from shipping pallets, and more in an exploration of time and space. $20, $18 seniors and veterans, $12 students with ID, $8 children 6 to 16, children under 6 and members free. 413-662-2111;

XYZT: A Journey in 4 Dimensions / Opening October 14

Three dimensions plus time add up to an immersive sensory experience at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem. Visitors interact with 10 “virtual environments” created by Adrien Mondot and Claire Bardainne, visionaries whose work blends art and technology. $20, $18 seniors, $12 students with ID, children 16 and under and Salem residents free. 978-745-9500;

The Impressionist Line: From Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec / Opening November 5

The focus of this exhibition at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown is late-19th-century Impressionist drawings and prints, often overshadowed by paintings and sculptures but equally deserving of attention. It includes work by Monet, Gauguin, Manet, Degas, and Toulouse-Lautrec. $20; under 18 and students free. 413-458-2303; 

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