Patriot's Day, April
Independent Film Festival of Boston, April
Boston Calling, May
Independence Day, July
Haunted Happenings, October
January represents the deepest, darkest part of winter. Expect cold temperatures and plenty of snow. The weather is often fantastic for sledding, skating and other winter sports.
Chinese New Year
In January or February, Chinatown lights up with a colorful parade, firecrackers, fireworks and lots of food. The highlight is the traditional lion dances, which fill the streets following the parade.
The weather is still cold, but the days are getting longer. Tourists are few and far between, so prices are cheap.
Since 1952, local college hockey teams face off in the hotly contested Beanpot Tournament. Games take place at TD Garden on the first two Mondays in February.
By March, Boston is officially sick of winter. On March 17 the city celebrates Evacuation Day, when the British pulled out of Boston Harbor in 1776.
St Patrick's Day
The large and vocal South Boston Irish community hosts a parade (www.southbostonparade.org) on West Broadway, complete with participation by gay and lesbian groups (who were famously banned for 20-plus years).
Dine Out Boston
For the first full week of March, scores of restaurants offer prix-fixe menus: $15 to $25 for lunch, $28 to $38 for dinner (www.dineoutboston.com). The menus are usually excellent value. This event repeats in August.
Emerging crocuses and blooming forsythias signal the arrival of spring, and baseball fans await opening day at Fenway Park. Temperatures range from 40°F to 55°F, although the occasional snowstorm can also occur.
On the third Monday in April, history buffs commemorate the start of the American Revolution with a reenactment of the battle on Lexington Green (11 miles west of Boston) and a commemoration ceremony at the North Bridge in Concord (17 miles west of Boston).
The world’s oldest marathon attracts tens of thousands of ambitious runners to pound the pavement for 26.2 miles. Held on Patriots’ Day (the third Monday in April).
Independent Film Festival of Boston
During the last week in April, venues around the city host screenings of independent films (www.iffboston.org), including shorts, documentaries and drama produced locally and nationally.
In May – one of Boston’s most beautiful months – the sun comes out on a semipermanent basis and the magnolia trees bloom all along Newbury St and Commonwealth Ave. Memorial Day, on the last Monday in May, officially kicks off the summer season.
When the sun comes out, so do folks in Harvard Sq, for Mayfair (www.harvardsquare.com). On the first or second Sunday in May, artists, merchants and restaurants set up booths on the streets, while children’s events and live entertainment take place on stages around the square.
On the second Sunday in May, the Arnold Arboretum celebrates the arrival of spring on Lilac Sunday (www.arboretum.harvard.edu), when more than 400 varieties of fragrant lilac are in bloom.
Twice a year, independent-music-lovers take over Harvard Stadium for three days of all-out, rock-out music. The festival occurs during the last weekend in May.
June brings temperatures ranging from 55°F to 70°F, and lots of rain. Student calendars are packed with end-of-academic-year events and graduation ceremonies. Then students depart the city, causing a noticeable decline in traffic and noise.
Boston Pride Festival
The week-long LGBTQ+ festival kicks off with the raising of a rainbow flag on City Hall Plaza. Events occur throughout the week, culminating in the Pride Parade and Festival on the second Saturday in June.
Bunker Hill Day
Charlestown historians remember the crucial Battle of Bunker Hill (www.facebook.com/bunkerhilldayparade) on the second or third Sunday in June. The city celebrates with a road race and a parade.
By July the city has emptied, as students vacate for summer and Bostonians head to their summer houses. It’s also Boston’s hottest month, with temperatures ranging from 70°F to 85°F, and there’s always a week or two when the mercury shoots to the high 90s.
The week-long Independence Day festival (www.bostonharborfest.com) starts on the last weekend in June. It includes events such as fireworks, an art market and Chowderfest, where you can sample dozens of chowders prepared by Boston’s top chefs.
On July 4, Boston hosts a free concert (www.bostonpopsjuly4th.org) that culminates with the Boston Pops playing the 1812 Overture, complete with brass cannon and synchronized fireworks. Half a million people descend on the Esplanade to watch it live.
Summer in the city continues in August, with hot, humid temperatures and plenty of tourists. Only at the end of the month will you begin to feel fall coming.
On the last weekend in August, Boston’s Caribbean community recreates a Trinidad-style Carnival (www.bostoncarnival.org), complete with spectacular costumes, sultry music and spicy cooking. The festival takes place in Franklin Park.
By September the humidity disappears, leaving slightly cooler temperatures and a crispness in the air. The students return and the streets are filled with U-Hauls during the first week. The first Monday in September is Labor Day, the official end of the summer season.
Boston Comedy Festival
The second week in September is dedicated to the funny guys and gals, who cut up at venues all around town as a part of the Boston Comedy Festival (www.bostoncomedyfest.com).
Boston Film Festival
For four days in mid-September, Bostonians become film critics. The Boston Film Festival (www.bostonfilmfestival.org) screens some 30 different films at theaters around the city.
Beantown Jazz Festival
The Berklee College of Music sponsors this free festival (www.beantownjazz.org) in the South End on the last Saturday in September. Three stages feature performances by jazz greats as well as local artists and Berklee students.
Hub on Wheels
On the third Sunday in September, the citywide bicycle ride, Hub on Wheels, starts at City Hall Plaza and offers two different scenic routes (12 or 40 miles).
October is Boston’s best month. The academic year is rolling, the weather is crisp and cool, and the trees take on shades of red, gold and amber.
On the first or second Sunday in October, Harvard Sq artisans and entertainers take to the streets. The street fair (www.harvardsquare.com) coincides with the crazy-fun Honk! parade (www.honkfest.org).
Head of the Charles Regatta
Spectators line the banks of the Charles River on a weekend in mid-October to watch the world's largest rowing event, the Head of the Charles.
Salem (16 miles north of Boston) goes all out for Halloween (www.hauntedhappenings.org). The city celebrates for much of October, with parades, concerts, pumpkin carvings, costume parties and trick-or-treating.
In November, you can feel winter in the air. You may even see snow flurries. Thanksgiving Day – the third Thursday in November – kicks off the holiday season.
America's Hometown Thanksgiving Celebration
Plymouth (40 miles south of Boston) is the birthplace of Thanksgiving (www.usathanksgiving.com), so it's appropriate that the town celebrates this heritage with a parade, concerts, crafts and – of course – food, the weekend before the holiday.
In early December, the huge Christmas trees at the Prudential Center and the Boston Common are lit, lending the city a festive air that remains throughout the month. There is usually at least one good snow storm.
Boston Tea Party Reenactment
On the Sunday before December 16, costumed actors march from Old South Meeting House to the waterfront and toss crates of tea into the harbor. Nowadays, the ticketed event takes place on the newly rebuilt Griffin's Wharf, where the Tea Party Ships are docked.
New Year celebrations begin early and continue past midnight, culminating in fireworks over the harbor. The fun continues on New Year's Day, with more activities and exhibitions.