10 free family-friendly events happening this June

These activities are excellently easy on the wallet.

The Boston Dragon Boat Festival.
The Boston Dragon Boat Festival. Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism / Flickr

For an essential guide to the city, sign up for How to Boston,’s weekly culture and lifestyle newsletter.

If you’re looking to take the family out for some fun in the city during the month of June, you don’t have to spend a lot. In fact, you don’t have to spend anything at all.

Watch a movie under the stars

Bust out the blankets and lawn chairs — it’s time for family outdoor movie night. On Saturday, June 1 on the Boston Common, you can watch “Ferdinand” at 7:30 p.m., courtesy of Boston Pride and in celebration of the launch of Pride Week in the city. On Thursday, June 7, head over to the Lawn on D for a showing of “Jurassic Park”at 8 p.m. as part of the outdoor interactive space’s “Movies at the Lawn” series. And on Friday, June 22, attend the Hatch Shell’s first “Free Friday Flicks” event of the summer and watch “Despicable Me 3” at 8 p.m. along the Esplanade. (Various times; various places; free; all ages) 

Strum a music maker

You won’t find any animals at this petting zoo. The Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston‘s annual family concert and petting zoo on Saturday, June 2 will let kids get up-close-and-personal with orchestral instruments. That’s right: Your tiny musicians can touch, blow, pluck, and strike instruments under the guidance of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble of Boston. Before that, families can listen to the ensemble play Beethoven, Manuel de Falla, Joan Tower, and more during a free family concert called “Songs in Brilliant Hues.” It’s all taking place in the Hyde Park branch of the Boston Public Library’s outdoor children’s garden. (Saturday, June 2 at 2 p.m.; Hyde Park branch of Boston Public Library, Boston; all ages)

View art in alleyways

Here’s you chance to step into the private gardens, alleyways, and courtyards of Beacon Hill residents, which will be turned into mini art galleries during the 29th annual Beacon Hill Art Walk on Sunday, June 3. Residents will welcome visitors to see and buy original, handmade artwork — created by many local painters, sculptors, photographers, and pottery makers — displayed on their properties. Volunteer musicians, which in the past have included fiddle and folk groups and string quartets, will also play in various gardens throughout the day. Starting points for the walk are 135 1/2 Charles St. and the corner of Cambridge Street and West Cedar Street. (Sunday, June 3 from noon to 6 p.m.; Beacon Hill, Boston; all ages)

See dragon boats race

Dozens of dragon boats will race along the Charles River during the 2018 Boston Dragon Boat Festival. Watch the race trials on Saturday, June 9 from the MIT Pierce Boathouse. The next day, watch the race finals and attend the festival, which will feature traditional Chinese music and dance, an arts and crafts tent, and plenty of Asian food along the Charles on the Cambridge side. (Saturday, June 9 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.; MIT Pierce Boathouse, Cambridge; Sunday, June 10, races from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and festival from noon to 5 p.m.; Weeks Footbridge near Harvard University, Cambridge for the races, Charles River near Harvard University, Cambridge for the festival; all ages)


Bunker Hill Day Parade

Participants march in the Bunker Hill Day Parade in 2017.

Take in the Bunker Hill Day Parade

Head to Charlestown on Sunday, June 10 to see floats and live music in the annual Bunker Hill Day Parade. The parade commemorates the Battle of Bunker Hill, the first major battle of the American Revolution, fought on Breed’s Hill in Charlestown on June 17, 1775. Mayor Marty Walsh will participate in the parade, along with local marching bands and musicians, military personnel, fire trucks, police motorcycles, and floats sponsored by local businesses. (Sunday, June 10 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.; Main Street, Charlestown; all ages)

Sing sea shanteys

The USS Constitution Museum hosts a choral event every third Sunday of the month at which visitors join together to sing sea chanteys, so spend Father’s Day chiming in. While there, climb aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the United States Navy, the USS Constitution, and learn what life was like for sailors aboard “Old Ironsides.” Hands-on exhibits teach kids about life on the ship, such as how to scrub the deck and furl the sails. Activities at the museum are free, but donations are accepted. (Sunday, June 17 from 2 to 5 p.m.; USS Constitution Museum, Charlestown; all ages)

Dance on the sidewalks

Take to the streets during the fifth annual Make Music Boston Festival on Thursday, June 21. More than 100 live performances, from jazz to classical, hip-hop to punk rock, will occur in Boston’s outdoor spaces and music venues: on sidewalks and porches and in streets and gardens across the city. (Thursday, June 21; various places, Boston; all ages)


The Big Dog Show

A previous installation of The Big Dog Show in Beverly.

Take photos with enormous (steel) pups

Snap a selfie with the family and an 8-foot-high steel dog at The Big Dog Show, a large-scale traveling public art exhibit debuting in Shipyard Park in the Charlestown Navy Yard on Thursday, June 21. The exhibit, which will feature 20 8-foot-high dogs, was created by Massachusetts sculptor Dale Rogers. “I created this traveling exhibit in 2009 because I strongly believe that public exposure to art is a critical component to the health of our communities,” Rogers wrote on his website. (Thursday, June 21 through Sept. 10; Charlestown Navy Yard, Charlestown; all ages)

Explore several museums

You can spend the day soaking up knowledge gratis during the Highland Street Foundation’s annual Free Fun Fridays event on June 29. It’s the first day of the summer-long event — happening every Friday between June 29 and Aug. 31 — during which admission will be waived at 100 different museums and attractions across the state. On the 29th, you can get in free at the following destinations: The Lyric Stage Company of Boston in Boston, MIT Museum in Cambridge, Berkshire Theatre Group in Stockbridge, the Nantucket Whaling Museum on Nantucket, The Mount: Edith Wharton’s Home in Lenox, the Concord Museum in Concord, the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, the Children’s Museum in Easton, and the Edward Gorey House in Yarmouth Port. (Friday, June 29; various places; all ages)

See the sky light up in fireworks

Watch fireworks over the Boston Harbor on Saturday, June 30 as part of Harborfest, a Fourth of July celebration slated for June 28-July 4. Throughout the weekend, there will be more than 100 activities and attractions, including historical reenactments, an oyster festival, and an art show. The June 30 fireworks will take place in the inner harbor and will be viewable from any shoreline from Charlestown to the Seaport and East Boston. (Saturday, June 30 at 9 p.m.; along the shoreline from Charlestown to the Seaport and East Boston; all ages)