Boston Calling Spring Music Festival — What You Need to Know

The crowd rocked out to Matt & Kim on the main stage at the Boston Calling Music Festival on City Hall Plaza, May 25, 2013. (Mattthew J. Lee/Globe staff)
The crowd rocked out to Matt & Kim on the main stage at the Boston Calling Music Festival on City Hall Plaza, May 25, 2013. (Mattthew J. Lee/Globe staff) –The Boston Globe

Boston Calling is coming — and we’re ready.

Last fall a chunk of the staff spent a weekend traversing the brick pavers (and steps) of City Hall Plaza for the second installment of the music festival, so we know it like the back of our hands. Lucky for you, we’re willing to spread the knowledge.

For you Boston Calling veterans, there are a few changes worth noting (like the ever inconvenient shuttering of the Government Center T stop). We’ve got y’all covered, too.


Since this year’s spring festival is three days, gate and box office times are a little different. On Friday, the box office will open at 5 p.m., the gates will open at 6 p.m., and the music will end at 11 p.m. On Saturday and Sunday, the box office opens at 11 a.m., the gates open at 12 p.m., and the music ends at 11 p.m.


Check out the full lineup and showtimes below.


The main entrance is on Congress Street. Once you’re in, Boston Calling encompasses the entirety of City Hall Plaza, including the piazza-like area at the top of the City Hall ramp that will be turned into the VIP section for the weekend. VIP ticketholders will have an elevated view of the entire festival from this space, where they can much food and sip beverages (more on that below).

Two stages (red and blue) are set up perpendicular to each other, red running paralel to Cambridge Street, with alternating musical acts throughout the festival. When one act is setting up on the blue stage, another is playing on the red stage and vice versa, giving the crowd a chance to migrate without missing any of the action. Portable bathrooms are in several sections and typically have relatively small lines.


According to the Boston Calling website there are still a number of 1-day Friday ($50), 1-day Saturday VIP ($185), and 1-day Sunday VIP ($185) tickets available.


It’s the weekend, so street parking won’t be entirely inaccessible — but remember, the meters have a two-hour maximum. If you opt for the MBTA or parking in a garage, read on below.


MBTA: Boston Calling strongly suggests taking public transportation. Since Government Center is a no-go, take the T to State Street (Blue or Orange line) or Haymarket (Orange or Green), or one of the many buses servicing Government Center, Downtown Crossing, and Haymarket, and walk down to City Hall Plaza.

Garage: If you’re going to drive in, there are plenty of garages in the vicinity. Bonus: you can pre-order your parking at the Government Center Garage (50 New Sudbury Street) at a discounted rate of $15, courtesy of some negotiating by the Boston Calling folks. Other area garages include the Center Plaza Garage (99 Somerset St.), Pi Alley Garage (275 Washington St.), One Beacon Street (1 Beacon St.). Check for rates and availability at these and other surrounding garages.


The Boston Calling food lines were pretty deep last year, so if you’re planning to snag a bite while you’re there, plan ahead. We’ve got the list of dishes (keep reading) so that you can make up your mind ahead of time — before the hankering sinks in.

VIP-ers get access to catering from Boston’s Hard Rock Cafe and a selection of beer and wine. General admission ticketholders will have a slew of vendors to choose from around the perimeter of the fenced-in grounds. Most of the food tents are propped up alonge the Cambridge Street corner.

Bon Me: Variety of Bon Me sandwiches, deviled tea eggs

Roxy’s Grilled Cheese: Green Muenster melt, three cheese melt

Tasty Burger: Hamburger, cheeseburger, bacon cheeseburger, veggie burger, plain dog


American Flatbread: Flatbread pizza, gluten-free pizza, organic brownies

Chicken & Rice Guys: Chicken, lamb, combo plates

Chipotle: Tacos (barbacoa, carnitas, veggie, sofritas vegan tofu)


Sam Adams is celebrating 30 years of tasty taps and will offer three beer varieties alongside Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple hard cider.

On draft: Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Summer Ale, Samuel Adams Rebel IPA, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple

In cans: Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Samuel Adams Summer Ale, Samuel Adams Porch Rocker, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple


There’s a chance it will be a wet weekend (albeit little) which means you should dress accordingly. If you don’t want soggy sneakers, opt for a sandal. If you hate wet hair, bring a hat. If you don’t want to get soaked, bring a poncho. Oh, and don’t wear white.

For more festival fashion tips, head to BDCwire.

More info

The Boston Calling website has a TON more tips for you to consult before you head out the door, so make sure to scan the list of categories like prohibited items — for real. You don’t want your squirt guns to get confiscated, right?

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